How weird is this? Before moving to Colorado, the only type of bike racing I did was road racing -- no crits (I'm too wimpy -- my skin might be too pale for some, but I'm pretty partial to keeping it on my bod ...) and no time trials (no equipment, no interest). Since moving here, though, I haven't done any road races, and today I did my second time trial! (No crits still -- ain't gonna happen!)
The Boulder Time Trial Series started tonight -- a 10.5 mile TT that starts at the town of Lyons and heads back into Boulder. It's every Wednesday night through late June, and Chad and I decided that it would be good training for me, good motivation, and hopefully a good measure of my growing fitness. I've not really found a good fitness groove in the last few months, so decided to give it a go.
My start time was 5:15, and I was nervous all darned day. Silly, I know -- very little chance of crashing, and basically just racing the clock. But racing -- any kind -- involves being able to suffer, and I've had a really, really difficult time over the last few months pushing myself to suffer on the bike. Chad's had me doing heartrate work for some time now, and I even struggle sometimes to get my heartrate up to tempo -- which isn't that high. I was mainly nervous that I would not be able to get my heartrate up very high, and therefore feel like I wasn't able to push myself.
But, I did positive talk all day, ate well, hydrated the last few days, and felt pretty good heading out to the start at about 3:50. I'd had a good ride yesterday, and felt pretty good when I started out today. In fact, about halfway out to the start, I realized I was feeling awesome ... calm, relaxed, and like riding was pretty effortless -- even when doing some of the little climbs along the way. Then it dawned on me -- I was riding with a tailwind ... which meant that when I turned around to do the TT course ... yup ... headwind.
But, I sucked it up, and made my way to the start still feeling optimistic. The registration area wasn't quite set up when I arrived, so I rode past, and found Mark and Rachel -- I know them through MS Global, as Mark is one of the ride leaders, and he is also a really great racer, wiry and strong. I chit-chatted with them, and Mark and I rode down to the start together to get our numbers.
So we pulled up to the registration table, and I'm looking around, checking out who all is there. I don't have pictures, but first, this is what I looked like. I'm wearing my Velo-One kit, and my back middle pocket is stuffed with a rain jacket, as it was raining just before I left the apartment. I'm in a normal helmet, and on my road bike -- a steel framed road bike with two bottles (one already empty that I drank on the way out, and one for the race -- probably didn't need it, but I wasn't going to take any chances). The only carbon on my bike is the fork, for goodness sake. And all around me were guys (no women at all at this point), including Mark, in skinsuits, TT helmets, and on super aerodynamic TT bikes. Yup ... I looked like a total dork and I could hear the Sesame Street "Which One Doesn't Belong?" song playing in the background. My VeloNews editor, Ben, was there with Matt, the technical editor, and they were both decked out in full TT gear, as well. I'm sure there were some prominent pros there as well -- I saw Bissell and Slipstream kits -- but, frankly, at that point, I stopped checking people out, and just tried to maintain my dignity as best I could!
So, Mark pinned my number on for me, and I pinned on his, and then I went to ride around a bit before my start. With about 6 minutes to go, I realized I could ask Rachel to keep my rainjacket in the truck with her, as she would drive to the finish to get Mark. Though he was leaving 6 minutes after me, I knew he'd get to the finish WAY before me, so I told them not to wait and I'd get it later, but they insisted that they'd wait. The pressure!
With about 2 minutes to spare, I pulled up the the start line, and chit-chatted with the race official there, pointing out my majorly sleek "TT" bike and gear. He was impressed, as was a 10- or 11-year-old boy standing there. Sigh.
So I started. There's a long very gradual climb right at the beginning, and, yes, that incredible headwind. My plan was to ride at around 160-165 bpm the first 6 miles, and then ramp it up as much as I could the remaining 4.5. I had no trouble getting my heartrate up to 160 or so right away on that first hill, and felt a bit overwhelmed, but told myself to calm down and my breathing steadied out.
I intentionally had signed up for a time slot that didn't have people starting right after me, as people were going off every 30 seconds, and I wanted as little demoralization as possible. Thankfully, not a lot of people signed up close to me, as it was about 10 minutes or so before the first person passed me. And in the meantime, I'd passed about 6 recreational riders on the course -- it's an open course with traffic and a very large bike lane, so you just share the bike lane -- so that was feeling good. I simply pretended they were racing ... the mind is a wonderful thing.
I found my rhythm, and was able to keep my heartrate between 160 and 168, stay in the drops, and also was able to stay in my big ring the majority of the time. The course is straight for the most part, but there are quite a few gradual climbs that keep you working. I didn't want to get too freaky about my speed, but it ranged from as low as 11 on some climbs (ugh!) to 26 or so on some of the descents. On one long descent, I was spinning in the big ring as hard as I could, and with the headwind was only doing about 23 -- and my heartrate? 171! THAT'S a headwind!
Mark passed me at 19 minutes -- I was relieved, as, honestly, I thought he'd pass me at about 10. Rather than demoralizing me, it actually inspired me, as I tried to keep him in my sights as long as I could, and sped up a bit. The miles ticked away more quickly than I'd expected, and by about 7, I knew I could ramp it up -- I'd actually forgotten to pay attention! -- and I did, riding at about 169-172 most of the rest of the way.
The finish is at the top of -- you guessed it -- a long gradual hill, and I was able to keep it in the big ring and go harder as I went up. As I crossed the line, I thought I was going to die, but it was awesome to be done. I was so thrilled, I forgot for a few seconds (maybe as many as 10) to turn off my stop watch, so I'm not sure how accurate my time was, but it said 39:22. I had hoped in that headwind and with my less-than-great fitness, I'd at least do it in under 40 -- so was pretty darned happy.
I turned into an area where folks park, and rode past Rachel sitting there in their truck. I saw Mark up ahead, as he was cooling down, so we rode a bit and talked to cool down. He rode 5 minutes slower than usual, he said, because of the headwind, so that made me feel even better about my time. My average speed was only just over 15 -- not too good, but given the headwind and my lack of being able to suffer lately, well, I'm pretty stoked.
And looking forward to next week's TT ... how weird is that?