Wednesday, May 8, 2013

First Time Trial

Last night I did my first bike time trial. It seemed like something fun to do, and hopefully would give me a few nights a month where the atmosphere would push me out of my comfort zone.

If you're western Twin Cities local, check it out. Every other Tuesday put on by Twin Cities Spoke.

Honestly I was prepared to whip out my camera and take a bunch of pictures, but then I chickened out, because my first expereince there was parking next to a lady who was already on her bike trainer warming up... And hour before the first rider would start. So, I felt a little out of my element, no pics.

The Setup

I drove up there after work, I picked up a sandwhich and a drink on the way there for dinner. Registration starts at 6, the first racer goes off at 7, and you go off in registration order (approximately) every 30 seconds after that.

I say approximately because the guy three in front of me got number 38, and I got 59, mostly though everyone else was numbered as they were standing in line from what I can tell.

I got to the right area just before 6, then drove the course. A 5.5 mile out and back (11 miles total) along a rural road with pretty wide shoulders. The hills would be described as rollers, nothing killer. The race is based at Holy Name of Jesus Catholic Church, which is pretty much a compound, and suprising to me, you can't see the registration area from the street. No matter, by 6:05 there are cyclists pretty rolling off the side street where the parking lot is pretty much constantly, so it was easy to find.

I pulled in expecting to see a few people there, but there were tons of people there, and a line at the registration tent. So I parked, got in line, filled out the registration / waiver form and got my number. Then straight to the bathroom, the sandwich didn't agree with me I guess.

The Psych Out

Now, I already know I am not a fast cyclist. I mean at my local bike group I can hold my own against most of them. At a triathlon I just hope to not loose too much time, and compared to people who spend all their time riding bike, I would expect to be trounced. What I didn't expect here was that it appeared that MOST people were going to be faster than me, just by looking at them.

While standing in line everything seems fairly innocuous. People are friendly, chatty with each other. Most people seem to know each other. Looking around there are a fair number of time trial bikes, with the deep wheels and discs. And then there are the people who are already warming up. On trainers, having ridden the entire course already, etc.

So I'm thinking to myself, well I didn't bring my trainer. It's 6:30, and I am still in my street clothes, and to bike 11 miles at a warm up pace would take at least 40 minutes. My start number is 59, so I'll be starting at 7:29:30... oh and I forgot my water bottle at home... numbers crunching ... eh, I'll do a quick spin down the street and then settle in near the start and see how that looks.

I should mention that I'm confident now that I'll be pulling up the rear of the field here (both in finishing time and start position) and that makes me nervous, because I like to be more competitive than that. I elect to not wear my new aero helmet that my sister got me for my birthday. Not for the first time trial where I am sure I will be getting last.

The Start

So after my few minutes of warm up I setup near the start. They are going off every 30 seconds as promised. People sort of coast in and find their positions by number, chat it up a bit. I glanced up at the starting area... "Hey look at that, that guy has both feet clipped in, and someone is holding him in place, I've never done that." ... heart beating faster ... The lady in front of me is talking to the guy in front of her. He got 2nd overall in the standings last year. He's wearing regular eye glasses, and a T-Shirt and riding a fixed gear track bike. He rides for free because he did well last year. She eventually looks back at me and says "you'll probably catch me in 45 seconds" I think to myself, likely not.

I get up there, clip in, the guy holding me feels stable. And off I go.

The Race

My heart-rate immediately jumps to unsustainable levels. Not because I'm pushing super fast, but the previously mentioned psych out is in full effect.

45 seconds go by, just kidding, for the first 5 minutes I'm sure I was mostly focusing on breathing and settling down, I was not paying attention to time. 30 seconds is a long time to make up. So really, unless I'm really flying I don't expect to pass many people, though I do notice that I am catching the woman in front of me.

Just under a mile I get passed, and just after that I pass the lady in front of me. For the next three or so miles I am just watching people bike away from me, then get passed again. At the turn around I see someone right behind me. Much to my surprise it takes quite a while for him to pass me, a couple of miles at least. Though what is most interesting about that is, when he finally does pass me, he BLOWS by. Quite fast. I pass one more guy about 2 miles from the end.

The Finish

The lady I had talked to at the start had mentioned she likes to put in her final big push near the white fence at the end. She then went on to tell me there is another white fence that she sometimes gets confused about and that really messes her up. I think I saw the 2nd "not yet" fence, but I don't remember seeing the "go hard now" fence. I had decided I would start in on my final effort with about 3/4 of a mile to go, at 20 mph that's just over two minutes of hard pushing.

Heh, this is funny, there's a small hill right there. I start my push on the way down it, and then push through it and then the last little bit is sort of downhill. So I felt slight trashed and then recovered and honestly the finish is a blur. I tried to push all the way to the end, and then I soft pedeled for a few blocks trying to catch my breath.

The After Party

After my short cool down I went back to my car and packed my bike up. Some people had left, some people where still racing, some people were milling around. I'm not a super social guy, plus it was 8 and I wanted to get home and hang out with my wife for a bit before heading to sleep, so I sort of changed clothes and left.

The results which were advertised to be posted in real time didn't come up till after I went to bed. Real time results would be a neat feature, but I didn't really care that they had a flub with it. They posted to Facebook about it around midnight I guess, and seemed a little deflated. Four hours turn around, and working into the night seems like a nice thing to do too.


Time 30:44.62
Calculated Speed 21.47 mph
Overall 62/78
Age Group 20/21
Division 51/53

Overall I'm not super excited by those numbers. It's hard to say, I probably could have benefited from a longer warm up, and it would have been nice if my heart rate had stayed below 200. What really digs in is that at three triathlons last year I could hold that pace (or close to it) for longer. So I guess I've got some work to do. Hopefully with the first one under by belt the next one will go a little smoother. And I'll break out the aero helmet, at least now I know where I stand :) Oh right, and I guess this is the very start of the season, maybe I should cut myself some slack, but what fun is that? :)

TNT Thoughts

I had fun, it's fun to do races. I didn't quite think of this as a race going into it, but others were clearly there to race. Everything went off without a hitch, and I'll be doing more. It will be fun to, hopefully, see a progression. If you're in the neighborhood and want to do a quick run down the course to see how you stand, give it a shot. Hey, if you're faster than me, are you as fast the the rest? The guy who got first finished in 23:21.9 for a sustained speed of 28.25 mph. And the guy who got last finished in 37:48 for a sustained speed of 17.46 mph


Amy said...

Geez I'd be happy with 21.47 mph on any course. And the only time I see 28 mph is when I'm going down hill ... down a steep hill. Yikes!

Jeremy said...

Amy - you're so modest. If I'm not mistaken you can hold > 20 mph for much longer times.

You'd be able to whip me on this :)