Monday, August 11, 2008

Time Trial

Finally raced my first time trial.

This is the second of two time trials in the race season that operates as an independent race. Other TTs that runs are part of some stage race which I am not ready for.

I grade my TT as a C+. My original target was 38km per hour. Based on an estimated distance of 36km (official distance is 36.4) I was pacing for 58 minutes hoping to start conservatively and have a slower 1st half.

I caught a ride around 5:30am and arrived at the location around 6:45am. I wanted to volunteer as well and my job was to assist in bike measurements. The commissaire was mostly enforcing the rule where the tip of the saddle needs to be 5cm behind the BB axis. There were a couple of guys and gals used the "morphological exception" by sliding their bum beyond the end of their saddles to get by the rule.

My start time was 10:56 so I have lots of time to get ready and warm up the bike measurements were finished.

It has been raining off and on that morning and sure enough when I start my warm up it was raining the hardest. I was soaked before starting. Just when I was about to start the rain stopped. The start house was actually the club trailer so that was kind of fun. I was nervous for a little while waiting for my start. There was nobody starting 1 minute before me. The guy that was supposed to start 2 minutes ahead but didn't show up until the very last minute so I was in the start house for almost 3 minutes. I didn't want to go too hard when I start because the first 2km or so was a slight downhill and I was hoping to save my effort for the final climb. I chose a cadence around 85 and was cruising above 40km very quickly. At that point there was a burning sensation around my crotch area. The bib shorts is not adjusted properly and it is rubbing in the wrong place. I chose to ignore that sensation and keep going as I do not want to stop and knew I could not fix the problem on the bike. The downhill comes gently to flats and I started pacing at 38km. I was thinking the course is not completely flat as my speed rolls down to about 36 and I would push it up to 39 and let it sink again (it could have been the rubbing - see below). It is a twisty course and it is hard to know where you are other than looking at the elapsed time on the watch. My heart rate monitor has been acting up for about 2 weeks before the race and it was only after 2 battery changes was I able to get it working the day of. For the first time in about 2 weeks I was able to know that my heart rate was hovering around 155-163. My threshold is 167 and my expectation was to push the HR up for the final 1/3 of the course.

The 5-6 guys following my start are all strong cat 1 or 2 riders, so I was passed a good few times before the turnaround. Lucky for me these guys are so fast (Will Routley the winner averages 10+kph faster) I did not know they were passing until they blew by. I did pass one woman after the turnaround before the bridge so that was a bit fun.

My pace was good and I was feeling comfortable (to a point) up till about 20 minutes to go. I wanted to push the pace up and found that my legs have been locked into automatic cruise control and refuse to cooperate. I tried shifting down to spin up but that only brought the speed down more so I have to settle for the same speed (36-38) and roughly the same HR which was mostly in the high 150s at that point.

The final climb was dreadful as I cannot garner any extra power to my legs and watch my speed go down while the HR stays the same. I slowed down to about 30 towards the end and clocked at 1:00:05. The guys did a re-measurement of the course and relabeled it at 36.5km so my average speed was 36.45.

At the end I found out my rear brake was rubbing the wheel. I did not realize it because the warm up was so wet and I cannot hear the rubbing. Afterwards I was told that I should have performed a test to just roll the wheels to check for rubbing.

Just like in Westside classic, my hamstrings were sore for a few hours after the race. This time I have problem sitting down so the car trip back to Vancouver was not very comfortable.

In hindsight my cadence should be higher (like 90-95) as my muscles were tired but I never taken advantage of my heart rate. If previous practices I find my HR dropping towards the end and my speed sank. So I should probably start around 160-163 and move it up that way. The lower cadence drill (4x10min at TT pace but 70-75 cadence) that John Tolkamp suggested helped my endurance but confused my cadence selection.

So between the rain, the brake rubbing, slow turnaround and my wrong cadence/HR selection I think I can save a minute at least. I wasn't too unhappy with the result as 1 hour was my lower bound and the conditions were not ideal. But then again you see other cat 4s and 5s doing really well so I do feel that I am not progressing at fast as I wanted.

Results are here. The bib numbers represent starting order.
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