As a past holder I gave up my plans to compete to help ensure the race day gets off to a good start. If you are unfamiliar with the holding role it requires positioning yourself behind the cyclist, straddling the rear wheel while you hold them upright at the start. The cyclist will then clip in both feet in the pedals and prepare themselves for the countdown. They are "literally" in your hands.
The key is to hold the rider steady while compensating for their movements as they get comfortable in the saddle. Depending upon the size of the cyclist and size of the bike it can be somewhat challenging. I tend to hold the bike by the back of the seat rails and some saddles facilitate this better than others - often the low profile racing saddles leave little room for hand placement. I have no choice but to cup either side of the saddle with my fingers.
Wind also becomes a factor. Since you want to hold the bike straight without any lean(which is a weird unnatural feeling for the racer) any cross winds can make this difficult.For many this is intimidating especially when you have competitors on expensive ITT bikes depending upon you to keep them upright.
Once warned of the impending start the rider settles in and then gets the five finger countdown. As the holder your attention is on the countdown as well and when the official says "go" you wait to feel the initial surge as the rider applies force to the pedals then release your grip.Its all about timing.
Checked out Atlantic Chip and we have 48 pre- registered racers and with the weather looking prime for Sunday I expect to see additional morning registrations. Once the racers all depart I will take up a good vantage point with the camera and snap some pictures.
Under sunny but very windy conditions the 2011 ITT championship was held upon the old Windsor road. A rolling hills course it offered something for everyone; some flat, rollers and hills.The swirling winds made it even more difficult for the competitors. It was a hard day on the bike.
As holder my day was OK - I was concerned about the gusts but managed to keep everybody somewhat steady while awaiting the countdown. There were some challenges.The racer who was trackstanding the start - I ended up holding his saddle whether he wanted me too or not?Give credit where credit is due as trackstanding was not an easy thing to do considering the wind.
The handful of guys who approached the line but did not unclip expecting(?) me to swing in behind them on the fly? I have never witnessed that particular starting technique but was prepared for it after the first guy(I watched their feet as they approached the line and if they did not initiate unclipping I jumped into action).
There was the racer who tried six times to clip in his second foot while trying to get in the saddle. I was doing my best to hold him steady throughout the ordeal but he finally leaned to far to the right to watch himself attempt yet another clip in, shifted his weight and toppled. Not a hard fall and I kept the bike upright. He then did a standing start but still struggled with the clip in once he was moving. Dude! Time to invest in new pedals.
A fellow club mate approached the line late after doing a couple slow circles and with time counting down back pedaled to get his cranks in the starting position but dropped the chain. A dismount and manual rechaining meant he started late which really sucks in an ITT.Tough luck but he finished strong regardless of the miscue.
Overall it was a good day despite the windy conditions.Thanks to Breakaway Cycling for hosting the event again this year and to the officials. Without officials and the other volunteers the race season would be non existent.Well done as always!
The turnout was a big improvement over last year and I noticed we had some triathletes join in the fun.I sure hope they enjoyed their crossover to the road cycling genre. That said some racers were employing the rear wheel disk today which must have been challenging considering the gusty, swirling winds. The disks sure make for an unique sound though......there is nothing like it.
Pics compliments of B Steinman and S Fougere