Although I am no stranger to 25 mile (40K) time trials, this was the first one I have ridden on a non recumbent bicycle since around 1996 and only the third 40K TT on any type of machine since then. Back in the UK, my personal best was 56m40s done on a steel Raleigh 653 road bike with clip on bars and aero wheels. This time was set on a much faster course (A1 dual carriageway) than Putah Creek. Putah Creek is quite slow because it has almost no traffic assistance, three 180 degree turns that can only be taken at walking pace and four 90 degree tight turns that have to be treated with care. The good things about Putah creek are that it is pretty flat, the road surface is generally very good and the people that put the time trials on are also an excellent bunch. (Thanks Davis Wheelworks).
My form coming into tonight’s 40K was a bit questionable but I really needed this event as practice for Sunday’s Dunlap TT. It was pretty warm when I got there with temperatures around 90f and the winds were pretty moderate. Hot temperatures mean faster times, if your body can stand the heat and it is normally a lot better for my respiratory system. On the warm up my lungs felt a bit rough but much better than they have been lately. I actually felt much stronger than expected and managed to ride at 20MPH without much effort. The winds were pretty light out on course with slightly more tailwind on the return direction but really it felt like a headwind both ways. I deliberately avoided going too hard on the warmup as it was pretty hot and I didn’t want to cook or over stress my respiratory system.
My original goal for this TT was to beat 26.8MPH, which I reckoned was the form I would need to be on to win at Dunlap in my age group, but after my 3 week forced layoff I re-aligned my goal to beating 25.2MPH (My Dunlap speed from last year that got me 3rd place). I was restrained over the first mile but once I got into my stride I was a bit concerned to see my pulse already pegged at 177BPM (OK for a 10 but a bit high for a 25). I tried backing off slightly but my pulse remained high and I felt fine so I just kept going. I had a great pace out to the 10K turn (14m22s) and thought a new personal best was on the cards. I was suffering in a good way and my speed was comfortably above my target. The return leg seemed harder and I felt like my my pace dropped a little but I still felt good. Around mile 10 the hot dry air really started to make things unpleasant and my tongue kept sticking to the roof of my mouth (I would have killed for a drink at this point). Also around this time I started to crack and my speed slowly began to ebb away.
I hit the 20K turnaround in 28m31s (14m09s for the leg) which meant I was still on target to beat the hour but I was absolutely cooked. Accelerating out of the 180 turn was nasty and suddenly even breaking 25 MPH became difficult. My pulse was pegged at 179 (my max is 185) even though my actual speed was slower than the first leg. I tried my best to ease off a little to recover but I was in deep trouble and worried how slowly I was going. I shifted up a gear to slow my cadence (hopefully reduce my pulse rate) and concentrated on breathing and pedaling smoothly rather than looking at the Garmin. I was trying everything I knew to regain my composure but I was suffering badly and I knew my speed was down on Target. When I was passed by Kevin Metcalfe at around 25K it was like I was doing a track stand and this certainly didn’t help my motivation.
I hit the 30K turn in 44 mins which meant I was 1m07s slower than the same section on my first leg but I I was still on schedule to beat the hour. I figured out if I could keep up above 25MPH for the return leg I would do it. I don’t remember much about the final leg other than it hurt like mad and my throat was like the bottom of a budgies cage. I do remember that accelerating out of the slow 90 degree turns was nasty and much of the time I could see 26MPH plus on the Garmin. The last mile was done with my pulse close to maximum and when I crossed the line I felt absolutely shattered. My time was 58m30s (25.4MPH) which met my adjusted target but doing it really hurt. I did the last leg in 14m30s which was 21 seconds slower than my time on the first 20K and even though I felt really bad in reality I wasn’t a huge amount slower.
They say that when you don’t race TT’s for a while you forget how to suffer and I certainly forgot how much riding a 40k hurts. I think I made a poor job of pacing tonight and this was illustrated by being approximately 1m30 slower on my second 20K. I also think I struggled a little with the heat which explained my elevated pulse. My time was 1m28s slower than my time on the Bacchetta recumbent a month ago when I was on great form.
Approx Times (Taken from Garmin Trace):
- 10k =14m22s (25.94 MPH)
- 20k =28m31 (26.14 MPH)
- 30k =44m0s (25.41 MPH)
- 40k = 58m30s (25.49MPH)
The 40K Putah Creek course is two out and back laps of a 20K circuit.
Outward leg 1: 14m22s Compared to Outward Leg 3: 15m29s [+1m7s]
Return leg 2: 14m9s Compared to Return Leg 4: 14m30s [+21s)
Link to results (will be updated when they are published)
Position: (will be updated when they are published)
Winner: (will be updated when they are published)