Putah Creek Time Trial : PCSD#1

Spring is here and with it we have daylight Saving time and that means the return of Davis Wheelwork’s excellent Putah Creek TT series. Putah Creek is a long drive for me and my wife (around a 140 mile round trip) but I think it is worth every penny of the gas it takes to get there.  It is a very friendly run event and absolutely 100% quality time trial training.  It is extra inconvenient for me as I have to get up  early to get my work done so we can get an early start on the commute traffic.

Tonight was PCSD#1 and my nerves were working overtime for the first event of the season. Unlike last year where I had already competed in a couple of time trials on my Trek TTX TT bike, this year I was coming in with very few practice miles. The only changes I made to the Trek since last season was swapping out the 21c Specialized Turbo Works Tires in favor of some 23c Michelin Pro race 3’s and changing my pedals to Shimano Ultegra. I don’t think the Michelins are much faster but I absolutely hated the feel of the S-Works tires and the lack of confidence they gave me on the turns. My new pedals mark my first departure from Smart Bros pedal products in 15 years and I have to say they feel much better for road use (I am still fiddling around a bit with shoe plate position but I have things pretty close).

The weather at Putah Creek was overcast, warm and windy but I got there super early and this allowed me to do a long warm up of 18 miles. The wind on the outward leg felt very strong on the warm up and my HED3 front wheel was getting blown about quite a bit (especially through the Olive Orchard).  My legs felt good but my nose was running constantly due to the wind and resultant pollen. According to my Garmin, the temperature was approx 70 degrees which is perfect for me.

My start position was two places behind my wife with World Masters TT champion Molly VanHouweling (resplendent in her world champion skinsuit) between us. I have a huge amount of respect for Molly as she is an incredibly consistent time trialist and I was hoping that following her would give me some valuable experience in pacing.

This season I am working very hard on pacing. I have read some really good articles on how going slower at the start can help you to go faster overall and I think that if I can nail this my times will improve. The first two miles were a nasty headwind but I concentrated on not pushing too hard (not sure I pushed hard enough). I upped the effort at mile two and I was hurting by the time I caught my wife around mile 3 but it looked like I was closing in a bit on Molly.   When I hit mile 4 it dawned on me that the wind direction had changed a bit since the warmup and this section was much harder. I think I was still slightly up on Molly and was catching another rider by the time we hit the glacially slow 180 turn.

The tailwind certainly was noticeable on the way back but I don’t think I had the speed in my legs to capitalize on it. I caught a rider at mile 5.5 but noticed that Molly was pulling away. She had obviously paced herself better as she steadily put time into me all the way to the finish. My speed actually seemed to be cardio limited on the return leg as I was breathing very heavy but my legs still felt strong.  The last two miles were a mental battle with myself trying desperately to get the speed up to above 30MPH. It is incredible how slowly that last mile passes.

My time was 22m47s which I was very pleased with. Last year I did a 23m34 seconds and I turned myself inside out to get it.  My wife managed 26m00s and Molly did 22m49s. I think this is certainly a good start for my crusade to beat 22 minutes in 2012. My few weeks of concentrated TT training seemed to have paid off and I hope I can improve more in April.

Link To Official Results.

  • Result: 17th
  • Winner: Chris Phipps (20m32s)
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