The summer of 2014 might seem a few long, cold rides away, but behind the scenes an accomplished time trial rider has been pouring her efforts into launching a new women’s series.
The South East Women’s Time Trial Series (SEWTTS) will be the new path to follow for women who want to test themselves against the clock in the typically solo event often called ‘the race of truth’.
Time trials are typically ridden solo, with riders setting off at one-minute intervals to race 10, 25, 50 or 100 miles. The task is simple: ride the distance in the shortest time to win. But it's not the winning that pushes hundreds of people to compete, often riders just want to improve upon their own records.
The brainchild of Wandsworth based Rebecca Slack, the SEWTTS will consist of 11 events spread throughout the season, designed to encourage competition over a range of courses.
Rebecca is a well known figure in UK time trialling, having won the National Time Trial series, the National 100 twice, as well as boasting podium finishes in the National 10, 25, 50 and the National hill climb.
Having discovered cycling at the age of 40, Rebecca is keen to encourage new starters, and the series has been designed to create a friendly and unintimidating environment for women of all abilities.
How the SEWTTS will work
To make joining and entering cycling Time Trials easy and accessible for everyone, administrator Rebecca has even set up a free to join “Newcomers Cycling Club," meaning that riders not already affiliated to a club are able to participate.
Members will race in categories based upon their best times, ranging from sub 55mins for 25miles for Elites, to the Novice category for first timers who don’t yet have a Personal Best (PB).
The categories mean women can compete against others in the same band at each event, so that results are based on performances on the same courses, not fast times alone. Rebecca explained:
Having categories means a 4th cat rider [4th cat riders will be those riding 10miles in 26 minutes or more and 25miles in 65minutes upwards] can then compare their performance against other 4th cat riders on the day and compete to be the best 4th cat rider at the end of the season.
I’m trying to change the mindset that exists in TTing today - there is far more to domestic TTing than PBs.
Time trialling is a sport which is largely dominated by men, and many races see comparatively much smaller women’s fields. The women’s CTT (amateur) National Time Trials saw 49 women compete in the 25 mile TT and 57 at the 10 mile TT, compared to 131 men at the 25 and 123 at the 10.
Rebecca wants to see this change, adding: “I hope the league will result in improved participation, and that improved competition among women will result as a by-product of that."
An already successful Midlands Women’s TT series has been running since 2007, offering prizes to the Best Improved, Fastest and Best Veteran females. One of the series races, the Di Cooke Memorial 10 organised by Coventry CC, comfortably attracts 40+ women implying organised racing associations such as this do a lot to promote participation.
Rebecca explained: “I’ve tried to build on the successful series model that already exists in the Midlands. The main point of difference is that I will be adding category prizes to the prize list meaning that ANY woman who enters the league, irrespective of their ability, will be able to win a prize."
Time trialling is unique because really anybody with a roadworthy bike who is over 12 years-old and competent riding with traffic safely can have a go, and SEWTTS will actively seek to attract new riders.
Rebecca said: “For me it's about bringing lots of women together to make for better competition, a friendly environment where we can all have a good chat down at the start or in HQ over a cuppa afterwards."
“We want to create an easy platform for newcomers to give TTing a go surrounded by lots of other women. The average TT attracts a handful of women at best and it can be very intimidating for newcomers to make their debut in those types of events."
Rebecca, who dabbles in triathlon but spends 60% of her weekly 10-12 winter training hours on the bike, wants to share the enjoyment that she’s found in time trialling with others and added:
I’d advise anyone interested to just come along and have a go! Seriously I can hardly believe what I've managed to achieve in the last 5 years from a standing start. I showed no athletic ability in my first 40 years and I’m sure there are way more able riders out there than me who’ve never had a go at time trialling.
Joining the SEWTTS ranks will only set you back £10, and from then you will be able to compete by entering the Cycling Time Trials (CTT) which are added to the calendar of events. To find out more about getting involved log on to www.sewtts.co.uk.
For more info on riding your first time trial, visit the CTT website advice page.