Tuesday morning brought out the B-team plus a couple. It was time for our annual TT. We have a fixed route that just happens to be right next to my house. It is an 11.8 mile out and back on the trace. The out portion is slightly uphill and, well, the back is slightly downhill. There are no hills and only one rarely travelled intersection on the route.
The Race of Truth
I take these TT’s seriously. I bring the big guns and I do not hold back. I found out about the TT on Saturday. It fit right into my training plan. I have started to take a rest day on Monday’s (I just did some strength training – not complete rest but a very light day and nothing on the legs). I started to prep my bike on Monday evening. My front derailleur has not shifted since last year. It is not something that I worry about since we don’t have many hills. And if I am out looking for hills I am probably with a group and on my road bike. So I started to investigate the front derailleur issue. I noticed that it was really a cable issue and after quite a bit of WD-40 and some persuasion I was able to get it to start moving. However, while reinstalling the derailleur the compromised cable snapped. The derailleur was not is a position that only allowed me to use the small ring. I went ahead and took it off. I had thoughts about making a chain holder but after a few trials on the trainer I was confident that the chain would stay in place.
I aired up my race wheels and dusted off my aero helmet (including getting the sticker off). The bike was ready to go but I was not sure about my legs. This past weekend I had done back to back bricks on Saturday and Sunday. The bricks were not huge but the the heat was back on in Southern Mississippi. I had been in Boston for the prior week with lows in the 50’s and highs in the low 70’s. During the bricks the bikes were not bad but the run was brutal.
I got up around 5AM for the TT. It is a short ride to Jackson Station from my house. The sun had just started to light the trace by 5:30AM when I left the house. I arrived to met the guys right at 5:45AM. Lance and Raland were pumping up there tires. Before it was all said and done we had most of the B-team crew plus 3 others.
We did a few light warm up and then we made out way to the start line. The temperatures were in the 70’s and the humidity was high. My jersey was damp just sitting there on the bike.
In the past we had started at about 30 second intervals but today we decided on 1 minute. The normal routine is slowest first. Robin and I were fighting for the right to start first. Robin won and I started second with Raland behind me.
Now, time trials are a skill. You have to start out hard but keep everything in check. It is very easy to go out too hard and have nothing left. I have gotten much better at this over the years. It is something that is hard to practice – they hurt.
I think I nailed it this time. I went out hard. I though about giving up a couple of times. I thought I was going to blow up. I did not want to be passed by Raland. I kept at it.
Then my legs came on and I just got into the zone. My breathing was labored. I concentrated on the rhythm and just kept the pistons firing. Although it is not the best indicator, especially in such a short session, I was monitoring my heart rate. That and cadence were the only attributes that I was looking at. I kept the heart rate at the upper end of my very hard effort. Towards the end of the out portion I could see Robin up ahead. It was along ways but I could see him.
I clicked off a lap are the turn around point. It was in the high 15’s. I know that the back half is a little quicker. I did some quick math in my head. Often times when I do math at intensity it does not make any sense when I am at normal speeds. It must be that whole Einstein relativity thing. But I knew that I needed to be about a minute quicker on the back half to be even with last year.
This was going to be tough. Raland and I crossed paths just after the turn around. It was hard to gauge whether or not he was gaining on me. I did not want to be passed.
I kept the intensity up. My concentration started to wane somewhere around the beaver pond. I got back on the gas and pushed harder. My heart rate was creeping up to the stratosphere. It was in a range that it just does not get on the bike. My jaw was slack. I could feel the saliva stringing from my mouth. I did not bother to wipe it away. I was pushing hard but I felt smooth. I felt solid. I kept concentration on my rhythmic breathing. It was labored but I only had minutes to go. I knew that the faster I went the sooner it would be over. There are mileage markers on the trace. I have marked the Steam Whistle the past couple of years. The Steam Whistle is a 12k out and back race. This is my course – my home turf. I know all of the distances. With 2k to go I kicked it up a notch. I did not have much but I gave all. I was just trying to hold on with 1k to go. I crossed the line. I hit stop on the Garmin and coasted down. I did not catch Robin. Raland did not catch me (to be fair, Raland has become a HOSS on the bike and had 130 miles in his legs from the past couple of days and Robin will always run away from me).
But for my TT, It was the best that I have ever done!
I rolled to a stop and got off the bike with shaky legs. I walked the bike back to the finish line and waited for the others. My watch had me at 30:32. The out was 15:44 @ 22.5 MPH and the back was 14:48 @ 24.0 MPH (23.2 average). That is my best by 8 seconds. I am pleased with the effort (never take a PR for granted). Those are an important 8 seconds to me.
We have decided to keep these TT on a month basis – a series if you will.
The current leader board is as follows (MPH was calculated using 11.8 miles as the course distance):
Sam - 28:20 @ 24.98
Ed - 29:23 @ 24.09
Keith - 29:31 @ 23.98
James - 30:32 @ 23.18
Raland - 30:33 @ 23.17
Robin - 31:30 @ 22.47
Of special note – Keith was on a road bike and I was the only one wearing an aero helmet.