Thursday, June 09, 2011

First TT of the Season

For quite a few years, since 2004 in fact, Cathy and I have been regulars at the Charlie Baker Time Trial, a local Wednesday night training time-trail race that is held in Concord, MA and is promoted and run by our club, NEBC. In fact, it was the CBTT that got us into NEBC in the first place. Actually, come to think of it, that is also what got us into road racing which got us firmly hooked into cyclocross racing and eventually got us back into MTB racing. Cyclical, isn't it?

This year we have a spiffy sponsor for the TT series, Armand from Speed Merchant Aero but unfortunately, the Wednesday weather in conjunction with road work that is being done on parts of the course has resulted in an unusually large number of cancellations of the event and as it has worked out, neither Cathy nor I had been able to participate at all this season. Early last week it looked like the road work was finally at a point where the event could proceed with caution. Alas, tornadoes and severe weather forced yet another misfire.

Yesterday however, the stars aligned and things all looked good. The weather was sunny and hot as sin, something that we in the northeast have seen almost zero of to date this season. I tried to take it easy on Tuesday and not overdo it on my solo road ride, in order to save some legs for the TT as well as to minimize the damage I did this week overall, after a super hard effort at the Rumpus Sunday.

As usual, my plan was flawed and in typical form I found myself hammering out to Harvard and then meeting up with the Tuesday hill ride. I'd been going hard but trying not to tax my legs or dig too deep. I figured maybe I'd hang back and do a few hills at a social pace. So, as we hit Oak Hill for the first interval of the night and Johnny Mo is pushing steady tempo doing over 20 mph constantly I'm not seeing a problem. It felt really comfortable in fact. As we approached the final kick-up I could no longer resist the urge to go to the front and set pace. I laid in a steady hard seated power. I'd guess it was about 600 watts average for about a minute, which for me is pretty hard. The legs loaded up and I could feel the damage being done. This was a bad idea; reason said I needed to stop the madness, now. So I called it quits after one hill with 30 miles in and started the uneventful, rolling ride home. The legs never felt the same after that effort though, I must admit.

Back to the TT, the actual subject matter here, we got dressed and donned our new Garneau golfball-esque TT helmets and rode over to registration in Concord. This is a good warm-up ride though once we got there we proceeded to sit/stand around and chat with folks for a half hour before the rider's meeting. The re-warmup consisted of the ride from the parking lot to the start, which is about a mile. Spinning on a trainer for 1/2 hours would have been much better but I just hate to drive and burn dinosaurs to get to a local bicycle race. It just seems wrong.

My TT bike in current configuration with new bars, tires and a 60mm front vs the 100mm I had

The start was harried as I arrived a bit late, just as I was on deck. Off the line I put in a hard effort and didn't really look at the computer, which has a 4 line display. I typically pay attention only to the average MPH. This lets me know how I'm going as I know where I need to be at given checkpoints for a given time at the finish. I'm usually good for a 1/2 - 1 mph loss between the first and second half of the ride. This is mostly due to course variation with the 2nd half significantly more rolling and also containing the only real climb. I hit the mid section with a good average speed, just under 28mph, which would be a PR. I felt really good and had gotten through cleanly. The ride that started ahead of me Tom, who sets very similar times, was just up ahead and a forced slowdown for traffic put me in for the catch and release.

Unfortunately, this was not one of the hardest sections of the course, a false flat on RT225. I couldn't hold him off and he passed me back. Not wanting to cheat myself, I settled back out of his draft and paced. While this felt nice I actually tailed off in terms of effort. The old trap of settling for a perceived level of suffering when you really should be suffering just a little extra. Another exchange occurred shortly after on River Road as I went up and over the town line roller but Tom took it back again just before the horse farm. Once again I dropped back out of the slip and paced as he was moving well and I know, can go downhill really well.

On the Punkatassett Hill climb I managed to motor by and made it up and over, though it hurt a very, very large amount. A slight brake check on the downhill for a turning car but clean otherwise. I expected to see Tom pass me again but hit the turn at Liberty Road first and kept drilling it over the line. Time on the line was 21:38 for the 9.75 mile course, which is well off my PR but a good start and within a few seconds of the best time that I turned in all of last year. I can live with that. I'd also avoided a number of minor aero advantages like a skinsuit as I needed pockets to carry tools and a phone, I had a cage and water bottle, no aero shoe covers and I didn't put valve-stem hole covers on the rear disc wheel. Minor, I know, but something.

Cathy had a fantastic ride and set one of her top times ever as well at 23:58. This despite the fact that she was slowed by traffic and also fully stopped to check on a racer who had crashed. What a good president she is. Had she gotten those seconds back it would have been really close for her.

Ah yes, another season has officially begun. I'd completely forgotten just how much pain and suffering there can be in a 20 something minute effort. It now feels like summer.

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