"If you place last in a time trial you can still experience a personal victory... and placing first can still feel like a loss"
Olympic and world champion, Katie Archibald got into cycling after winning handicap races on a Highland Games grass track. She writes a column for Cycling Weekly each week.
You know what people love about riding their local 10-mile time trial? The fact that even if you come last there’s still a chance you can beat your past self.
It’s the same reason people love power meters; the results sheet might say one thing but your Garmin says how you really did. Whether a TT is on the road or the track there’s always scope for pleasure that’s completely removed from whether or not you win or lose.
What doesn’t get acknowledged is that there’s just as much scope for misery. Current individual pursuit world record holder and world champion Chloe Dygert (USA) won the event this year in a time of three minutes 20 seconds.
She made a catch on the silver medal rider (Annemiek van Vleuten of the Netherlands) in the final, such was her margin on the rest of the world. But she wanted to ride a 3:18.
“Everyone was making such a big deal that I broke the world record again,” she said.
“I had to fake a little excitement. I was expecting a better time, and I only went .012 faster.”
I read this from an interview with Dygert afterwards. Just as if you place last in a time trial you can still experience a personal victory, so too placing first can still feel like a loss.
It’s not, as you might have guessed, a reaction to becoming world champion that garners a lot of sympathy. I’m thinking about it because I’ve just been told off for moaning about my season on Twitter.
Called on my nonsense because this year I became world and Commonwealth champion but I’m walking about with a pout on because I’ve had a couple months messed around with minor injury.
The fact I need to get over myself was an obvious conclusion, but seemingly not one I was able to draw on my own.
I won’t be riding the British national road race or TT, and that’s OK. Does that sound sincere? I’m not sure I’ve fully convinced myself of it, but you’ve got to fake it till you make it.
Until then I’m just to repeat “the world isn’t ending, the world isn’t ending…” over and over in my head.