Blog: Patrick Salt

A wet and bedraggled Patrick Salt talks Time Trialing and Time Warps and gets controversial with the TT Champs

As I hoped, I managed to get a look at the time trial championship last Sunday. It’s a strange event, hybrid sort of thing between BC and CTT, and you can see who is really in charge!

At the HQ, when I arrived, I saw commisaires and a BC board members gathered around a strange rig, where they were checking bikes. A look at the programme (hard to get!!) revealed that the categories outside masters had to have UCI rules bikes. All to do with where the saddle is and length of the bars, so far as I could see. Why the older groups are excluded, and still get a BC champion jersey, isn’t obvious.

That said, it’s clear that this is really a CTT time trial with a BC championship tacked on.

Well enough organised, big community centre HQ, very good – and cheap – catering, lots of old boys in shorts nattering about “times”. They really are almost a different breed to the people around the road and track races, let alone cycle speedway, MTB, and BMX! It’s almost a time warp.

So, having filled up, off to the course, a start literally in the middle of nowhere, a very twisty road out to the circuit with horrible surface, two or three laps of the circuit depending on category, and another run to the finish, through villages with parked cars and into a tiny lane. The only way to find the finish was a car with a chequered flag spread on the back containing the timekeepers. I think being grumpy is a requirement for them from an overheard conversation.

Now, the race was, as I said, well enough run, good marshalling, so technically reasonable. But it was organised, not promoted. Publicity – nil, banners saying British Time Trial Championship – nil, location – fine if it’s a little club event. The old “hide away in case someone sees us” attitude in CTT dies hard, yet these same people have races on massive major roads. I don’t get it. Without criticising the organiser who did a fine job of running a TT, here’s some thoughts.

Why did the course start and finish miles from anywhere, why not in Sawtry, engaging with the local community, get the mayor or a councillor out to present the awards? The run from start to the circuit was great if it was on closed roads, as it was, with the blind bends there was an incident waiting to happen. OK the road was very quiet, but surely a safer route could be found?

Why does BC not take the thing on themselves? There must be some way to do this better. For instance, have the best 30 in each category of seniors, juniors, women, under 23, and put them on a challenging course with all the support that comes at a Premier race.

That way the riders could start at 2 minute gaps and have a following car (it’s crazy to think that a race could be lost due to a mechanical at this level, when there is no support). Why not run the masters on a separate day, or make a weekend of it with one event on the Saturday and one on Sunday?

Get a speaker at the start (which should be very close to the finish and be on the circuit, so plenty of riders pass through. Have an intermediate time check out on the course so the speaker can get info from timekeepers all the time, and keep the supporters and audience informed.

All this is not too hard, surely, for an organisation that managed to put on a Premier race themselves, the excellent Twinings GP, just a week or two ago?

BC, it’s time to separate from CTT, you work in a different era.

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