Blog – Season begins for Billy Oliver


The day had finally come and the first time trial of the season was about to start for Billy Oliver in the cold and rain

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Blog – Season begins for Billy Oliver

Billy writes … It seemed to have come around so fast and it was a mad rush to get a bike sorted for me to race,I hadn’t touched a TT bike since the last race of last year so I was considering just bashing down the course on my road bike.

Luckily for me, I didn’t have to as Andy sorted me out with the loan of the very impressive Boardman 9.4 . As it was just a run out, we didn’t change much on the bike and made do with pretty much the set up we had apart from a few adjustments to the bars. I wanted to try my new wheels so it meant I was running without a power meter as I’m running with just my training powertap and we went with the standard 53t chainring and 172.5mm cranks.

We managed to get a position I was comfortable with but nothing as strong as I would normally have for racing in but it would get me out there and that was the aim. Race day weather had been looking terrible all week but there was an outside chance it would not come in till later in the day but this wasn’t to be.

I got to the HQ early as I always do and it was freezing cold but looked to be staying dry. The wind was fairly light so it was a case of getting cold but I was happy to live with that as long as the storm stayed back.

I got my skinsuit on and the number in my NoPinz speed pocket without the usual hassle of pinning myself to death and covering my number in double sided tape and I was ready to go.

Warming up, it was very calm and a day that had the chance of being awful was starting to look up so I warmed up feeling very confident watching a few riders on there last mile looking fast in the conditions.

I rolled up to the start and started taking off the extra kit I had on for warm up and a few spots of rain started to drop, still hopeful I carried on getting ready as my minute man went out.
It was almost like someone flicked a switch, everything went dark and I could see the pusher offer desperately hoping my start time would come faster so they could all run for cover. The strong wind seemed to hold back the rain slightly, starting with a few bursts and nothing more. I just kept telling myself an hour and you’ll be back in the car nice and warm.

I went out trying to keep it steady. Not having a power meter, I knew it would of been very easy to smash the first few miles and pay for it later.

The course was part of the A38 with two loops off it and back. I caught my minute man just before coming on to the first loop but knowing it was a sharp turn and very greasy on the road I thought I would wait till the turn was done before getting past.

Little did I know he would go into it at full speed in the drops and then have to do a emergency skid and somehow manage to keep it up right (great save ). I shouted I was going on his outside and off I went, the next corner was a fast but tight corner and as I approached, I could see a ambulance on the corner,lights flashing but I convinced myself it was for someone living in the few houses on the corner.

I later found out it was a great little rider with a ton of bad luck but luckily he was ok, get well soon mate.

I had already decided with the temp just getting above 1 at 11am, there was no way I was taking the back loop like a mad man. A , I was on a bike that wasn’t mine and there was no way I was risking dumping it on a minor race in February and B, after being ill for a week, there was no way I was risking crashing as well.

I took the first few corners very steady getting up off the drops and scrubbing off speed just to be safe. The rain was getting heavier and the wind really picking up now and I was only just finishing my first loop. I got to where the course re joined the A38 and had the moment of thinking shall I just turn right and get back to the hq before it got too bad.

I’ve rode the course before and my avg speed wasn’t too bad even though I was taking any kink in the road very steady so I cracked on hoping it wouldn’t get any worse.

As I got onto my second loop, rider traffic was building up as conditions got worse and I came to a hard part of the course where I came up on a selection of two other riders all trying to navigate themselves around the complex parts of the course.

About half way through the second loop is when the storm really kicked in. The wind was really driving and the sections that were more open were really fighting against you. With the rain smashing down, the potholes that seem to be multiplying on a crazy scale on that course were becoming very hard to spot and I hit one hard just before coming to the end of the second loop.

I skidded to a halt on the side of the road as I was sure something had gone ping , a quick look and all seemed ok so off it was onto the last section which was about 8 miles to the finish. The calm conditions were a distance memory and this was just a case of holding on now and getting back.

I looked at my avarage speed and it was dropping and with a very tough last 6 miles coming into a block headwind, it wasn’t going to get better. I was hoping that I could pull something back on the run to the turn and just bury it back but I only gained a very small bit to the turn.

The return leg was going to be horrible. I know the road well as I train on it loads and the wind on the way back is sometimes like trying to ride through treacle. Add driving rain and just under 2 degrees and it’s enough to make you cry .

I found a tad of motivation to get home as I past a guy who had gone out a long time before me and knowing I would be back before him at least made me feel as if someone had it worse than me at least.

Heart rate was climbing fast trying to push on through, the flo 90 was doing all it could , you could feel the wind really pushing against it but it felt stable and controlled and just drifted you slightly giving you the chance to correct your line (well that’s how it felt anyway – I was probably all over the road like someone had just pushed a wheel along and it was wobbling away on its own down the road ).

My position was all over the place. I stayed in the extensions but my head was up like a meerkat desperately trying to spot potholes and just generally see where I was going. I spent the last 3 miles in the middle of my lane ,teeth gritted. I think cars were to scared to beep at me for being out so far as I looked like I might chew through their bumper.
I crossed the line shaking my head wondering what the F had just happened ,body shaking as I was so cold and wet just rolling back to the hq.

I got back and luckily Andy had dropped by and took the bike from me giving me chance to bundle some clothes out of the car and rush inside to try and get dry. I spent the next 30 mins shivering under a heater in the hq wondering how far down the list I had finished.

I knew it was going to be bad news as I was over 3 mins slower than when I rode the course last year. I had somehow scraped 2nd, well beaten but just happy to be back. The Garmin file told a good story. HR was good and even but the speed drop off was crazy. It was great to be back on a bike and racing again.

I think if I’m truly honest, it done me good. Gave me a real battering on the bike and was a tough way to get back into it. I think if I had rocked up, perfect set up and on great form and won the race it would of not motivated me as much as having a mare did.

I feel now I’ve got something to fight for and prove. My race calendar doesn’t hit the important races until August and as much as I would like to hit every race on great form, it’s just not going to happen if I want to train to be better for the big races.

It’s a hard one to grasp for me as I want to go out and destroy every race and show what I can do but it’s great to have Matt holding me back and keeping me focused on the bigger picture. People always used to say to me be a hero in February / March and you will die off when the big races come.

I understand that now and see if your training and building racing takes a back seat and you have to use it as a test bed for those future targets.

I’m going to race more locally this year which is good as it’s not taking a whole day out with travelling and planning the days eating etc etc. I can get up, go out, race and get back and recover for the following sessions training.

The R10/22a is next on the 8th and a pretty straight forward course. Fingers crossed the TTE will be ready and I’ll be back in a set up I’m very happy with.
Huge thanks to bike science this week for getting me out there racing in a week when all the customer boardman tte bikes came in so it was really manic but they made time to get me sorted .

So onwards and upwards I think I’m pretty much over the illness now as well so can really focus on getting the training back to normal after having to drop some key sessions .

Billy’s Blog Here

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