Doing it all the hard way...

Monday, June 27, 2011

Frostbite TT 2011 Race Report

Flying Evo !!

How fast could I ride under perfect conditions…

This event was originally scheduled for early March. On that cold March morning, despite snow flurries and better judgment, Hottie and I drove to the start where the medical team was bandaging up the bloody face of someone who had tried to pre-ride the course. The race director prudently cancelled the event due to icy roads and said it would be rescheduled.

Fast forward to last Sunday when the rescheduled event was held. Under glorious blue skies and enjoying warm temperatures, Evo partook in a nine mile race of truth.

My previous TT efforts had yielded disappointing, though consistent, results. One of the secrets to peacefully growing old is constantly lowering your expectations. Despite taking this pearl of wisdom to heart, I secretly harbored hopes of an improved mph average.

I had worked on my flexibility and had spent a fair amount of time in advance of the originally scheduled date working on my position on the bike. Not having a wind tunnel at my disposal, I found a mirror and put it in the pain cave (the room where I do intervals on rollers during cyclocross season). With the TT bike secure on the trainer, I was able to get a lot lower than I thought I would and found I could stretch out and put out what felt like power.

My experience over the last several months has been that when I am out on a longer ride, somewhere between one and two hours into the ride, everything loosens up and I feel as if I could set my chin on my stem and pedal all day long. Getting loose seems to be key to riding in a TT tuck. My hope was to spend a good long time easy spinning on a trainer in advance of the start to get as loose as possible.

The morning was warm and after a hot bowl of Bob's Red Mill steel cut oats, I pulled on a pair of cargo shorts and Hottie and I drove to the race. Big John had just pulled in and we slotted in behind him and I set up the trainer. Plenty of time to get in a good warm up. I ate my traditional Nutella slathered Bagel and sipped some fresh HEED. A nice warm up soon ensued.

Rolling to the start with less than a minute to spare was not in the plan, but arriving just in time hot and ready to go was a good omen. I zeroed out the computer, swigged the last of my drink, tossed my bottle and clipped in for the countdown. My timing was risky, but perfect.

Tom Wick, who rides with us most Sunday mornings, was the race official who was counting me down. Five, four, three, two, one…. go. Crank, crank, crank and I was pedaling. Click, into the big ring. Settle into position and check the speed and HRM. 24 mph and 172bpm, I feel like I can go faster... Meter your effort Davo! I try to pedal easier. I work on smooth circles and keep my speed around 24. Don’t fly and die Davo.

The course isn’t pancake flat, it is frying pan flat. Long sweeping turns and a wide debris-free shoulder made for an excellent course. The route was an out and back that added up to nine miles. My HRM was reading between 174 and 177 and my speed was pretty steady at 24. My hamstrings wanted me to move around, but I stayed in position. I saw big John coming back and he yelled at me expending some valuable oxygen. I whistled back. Three and a half miles into the race the road straightened out and I couldn’t see anyone ahead of me. Maybe I was slow and about to be caught myself? There had been a constant stream of riders coming back on the other side of the road. I saw the 200m to turn around sign and kept pedaling. I finally downshifted and put my hands on the brakes and swung wide to go around the orange cone.

Once around the cone, I looked up the road to see how far behind me my thirty second man was, and I had a monster gap. “Just me and the clock,” I thought to myself. I fought to get my speed back up and my legs were starting to express some real reservations about continuing at the same level of intensity. I checked my HRM and it looked like it said 180, but with the sun to my back now, I couldn’t be sure. Pedal Davo, Pedal.

Keeping my focus was a battle and every time my concentration lapsed I lost a mph or two. I downshifted and increased my cadence. I upshifted and worked on my power. I tried to pedal circles. I tried to scoot forward on my saddle. I tried to move back on my saddle. I tucked my head down and just cranked. I was running in the 23-24 mph range, with occasional drops to 22 or 21. With two miles to go, nine miles suddenly seemed like a long ride.

I had something orange on my mind...

The HRM said 182 as I passed Hottie armed with her camera about one mile from the finish. I could see the 1k to go sign up ahead. I knew from past experience that when my heart rate is this high, pushing for even a few seconds can cause a catastrophic Davo blow up. I already felt like my level of consciousness was in question, so I didn’t dare do anything drastic. Somehow I seemed to just will my legs to go faster. The computer crawled up to 25, then 26 mph. 200m to go. Push it, but don’t get out of position. No out of the saddle burst from Evo. Just drive through the red line painted on the road and coast without crashing.

Big John was astride his machine and he offered a congratulatory handshake. I rode a few minutes to warm down and catch my breath. For the first time in my limited TT career, nobody had passed me. I was pleased and while I don’t have the official results, my computers tell me my average mph was between 23 and 24.

Okay, now what?

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