Monday, April 03, 2006

Jack Frost Time Trial

Saturday, 26 February
First race, 2006

What better way to start a season of bike racing than with a time trial, especially the beautifully smooth, flat, and not-windy-this-year Jack Frost Time Trial in Vancouver, WA. My last time trial of 2005 was on my road bike with clip-on aero bars without a disk wheel, when I pulled off one of my fastest average speeds ever in a TT (in abysmal conditions). My project at Jack Frost was to ride first with full aero set-up on my TT bike, and then to give it a second whirl on my road bike with semi-aero wheels and the clip-ons. (It's great being old: you can race once in your category and again in your age group.) If I went faster on the road bike, it would show that something is definitely wrong with my TT set up.

I should mention that the day before this little experiment, I rode 91 miles, most of it on the tandem, up and down three of the biggest, longest hills around Seattle. So my legs were not exactly fresh or rested, and some would believe my nutritional habits on the bike over a 5-6 hour ride would put me in a deficit I might not recover from until May.

Jack Frost is three hours from home, so there was no sleeping in to aid recovery. I prerode the 12.4-mile course as a warm-up. Nope, it hadn't changed much since last year, as my (absentee) tandem partner would've observed. There's a stretch of dead-end road near the start line that's maybe a half-mile long, so you can do a few hard efforts before zooming in to the line for your start. I try to go hard from the start, and then back down teeny little bits until I'm convinced I might not explode. But this time I didn't have to back off! There was no wind, and it just felt great all the way out and back. I had forgotten to look up my times from previous years, so I didn't know if my finish time was okay, pretty good, or....

I went back to the car, had a gel and some water, tried to stay warm (it was below 40 degrees), and headed back out on the other bike. Right away I missed the disk wheel (and not just the sound!). And the road bike has a computer, so I had this pesky data display reminding me when I was slowing down (I have no electronics on my TT bike). I've always thought this course was dead flat, but when you watch your speed, you realize it's not. Even in my oxygen-deprived state, my brain managed to figure out that if I wasn't doing 24 mph, I wasn't going to go 12.4 miles in less than 30 minutes, so I was bound to be slower than the 29-something time I had done on the TT bike. And then at about the turnaround, those 91 miles from the day before started to come into play. I had been gradually catching a woman who started 3 or 4 minutes in front of me; I got to within 250 meters but I just couldn't close that gap in the last quarter of the race.

My second time was two minutes slower than my first. Sure, some of that was not having a disk wheel, and some was fatigue catching up with me. But I think last year's super-fast TT on my road bike was a fluke, and I'll stick with the TT bike. When I got home and looked things up, I found that my first time broke my PR on this course by more than a minute, and I had the fastest women's time of the day. I can't say that my training program has been a whole lot different this year, except for some regular, diabolical Computrainer workouts at CycleU.

I eked out just a few seconds over a local Portland rider, Miranda, who has beaten me in every TT for the last few years. By now she's got a new team TT bike, so I'm sure she'll be out for revenge next time we meet! Third fastest time went to former "national rider of the year" Megan Troxell, who was absolutely astounded that there were more than 50 women racing at a time trial in February. I dearly love time trials, and not just because I do them reasonably well; it is so cool to see women come out to race who might not think of themselves as competitive. They work just as hard as I do, and for a longer time, and I hope they have just as much fun as I do!

Race results are posted here.

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