Midlands-based Richard ‘Dicky’ Bussell rides for RST/AeroCoach. In his first season of time trialling, he’s taken the gold cap and striped jersey of the national champion.
I caught up with Richard the weekend before the race, for a chat about his ongoing season.
The season did not start well. Rich suffered a ruptured spleen in a road racing accident in the run up to the Little Mountain TT, taking him off the bike for a long time.
‘I had basically 8 weeks sitting around not able to do anything, and I just wanted to get back on my bike. I think the rest did me good in the end, though. Downtime’s important. I don’t think you really need to worry about losing your fitness – it comes back much quicker.’
Richard is a postman, normally commuting to work on a fixed-gear Condor: ‘I used to do my deliveries on the bike. I’d challenge myself to get the big heavy 3-speed postie’s bike up the hills. They’ve gotten rid of the bikes and I drive a van now, but that gives me more time to ride when I get home.’
‘I get my best results after work. It’s like a lot of people are just turning up from a day at the office, but I’ve already warmed up by doing my round.’ He revealed that he’d only been riding seriously for around 4 years. ‘I was always a bit of a chubby teen. I bought a cheap bike to ride and lose a bit of weight.’
While he hasn’t been competitive in time trials before, he does have some history with them, riding to local club events on his road bike and using them as a training session. ‘I didn’t really have a lot of interest in opens because I didn’t have the kit. I used to like going along and trying to beat people on my road bike.’
That’s where AeroCoach came in, providing a TT bike for Richard to use. ‘A lot of people say you don’t go any faster your first time on a TT bike, because you’re not used to it, but as soon as I got on it, I wanted to go fast. It feels fast!’
Richard has been enjoying what most people enjoy when they get on a TT bike – a season of PBs. However, he’s more interested in competing: ‘I want to race people, and try to beat people that would do a similar time as me, or even win!’ Fortunately for him, he’s been doing that too.
‘In road racing, I get nervous because you don’t know what’s going to happen’ he said, when asked about how it compares to time trialling, ‘you could get caught behind a crash, or crash yourself. It was really nice to do well on a TT bike, and I don’t really get nervous the same way. It’s much more consistent because it’s just you and the bike, and you just try to hang on until the end!’
He prefers a course with hills, because they’re a bit more interesting, but not so much ones with too many corners ‘I haven’t ridden the bike a lot’, he said, ‘the brakes are a bit sketchy, so I don’t really go out training too much on it! On a hilly course, your times might be slower, but I think I’m pretty strong on hills.’
When it comes to time trialling, his pacing strategy has been quite basic so far: ‘I normally try and keep it over 30 until the turn. If I can manage that, I’m usually alright until the end. Anything I can get on top of that is a bonus!’ His speed on the TT bike came as something of a surprise. Starting with a head fairing, he spent his early winnings on a helmet after realising how fast he’d be going.
With a week to go before the 10, he was looking to find more time with AeroCoach: ‘I normally tend to just ride. I mean, I feel pretty aero on the bike, but it’ll be interesting to see if Xav can help me squeeze out some more time with some testing.’
It seems like he did. Richard came first in the National 10 with a time of 19 minutes and 36 seconds.