Time trialling bucks the trend in escalating race costs and you can enter an event for just £8.50: there's no memento but, instead, you trade in your number at the end for a hot cup of tea to enjoy as you make excuses for the day's performance with fellow competitors.
The PB-chasing means that many of the most popular races are held on flat, straight pieces of road and the presence of traffic is considered, by many, a bonus. In my 5 year absence, the slower courses have become so unpopular that it has become hard to find an event in our local area than doesn't take in a dual carriageway, and, this morning, I found myself preparing to race along the A40 Witney bypass. Waiting in a lay-by on a piece of carbon fibre as trucks rumbled past at 70 mph, I noticed an alarming difference in 33-year old me: I was utterly terrified.
"Is this worth it?" I thought, as the timer counted back from 10. A car surged past, much too close for comfort, as he reached 5.
"Go careful!", yelled lovely boyfriend, waiting to start a few minutes behind me.
3... 2... 1... Go!
Fifteen pedals strokes in, I was safely on my aerobars, breathing deeply and listening carefully for approaching traffic behind me.
I returned to the race HQ to find my ride had secured some unexpected silverware. In the interests of full disclosure, there were 3 women in the race: a podium place was guaranteed from the start, even if survival wasn't.
Of more interest to me than this, however, was that the winner was at least 15 years older than me and fear was most certainly not standing in her way. There is definitely hope for me yet.
I don't think I'll be making a habit of riding along a dual carriageway every week. That doesn't mean I'm growing up though. I mean, seriously, how many real grown-ups get to dress up as a bicycle-riding robot on a Sunday morning?