This was a brutally hot race for me, registering at an average temp of 106 degrees Fahrenheit, and it was also very windy. My weapon of choice was my Steel Fixed gear Wabi with a few tweaks since I last raced it. I mentioned the new Vittoria Tires in a previous blog post and they feel wonderful on this bike. The bike seems to have much more zip and when warming up on the rollers the rolling resistance change is very noticeable. I also put a longer stem on (now 120mm) and upped the diameter of the bars and stem to 31.8 and swapped the brake levers for some nice Crane Creek items. The result is a bike that feels much more responsive for out of the saddle sprints and the change also dropped the weight down to 17.5 pounds. I also find the new bars to be much more comfortable both in the drops and on the hoods.
My final tweak for Dunlap was to borrow a tighter fitting jersey from my wife as my medium race cut Voler team jersey can be a bit flappy at the front when on the drops. It also helped that this jersey was extremely well vented with the back section virtually mesh fabric. I love the fit of Castelli clothing and it is a shame that we cant get our team kit from them.
Unfortunately all these tweaks were offset by pretty hard conditions for fixed. The majority of the course was crosswind which suits fixed fine but there were two sections that had a really strong head/tail wind. Big differentials in wind resistance are the enemy of the fixed rider as you are usually too low geared to take advantage of the tail wind and you have to grind back into the headwind. The 2.5 mile section after the turn on Stephenson Bridge road was really hard today and I had to dig really deep just to keep the gear turning. I was doing everything in my power to get as low as possible to cheat the wind but still dropped down to 18 MPH in places.
The net impact of fighting the mighty wind was that I was pretty cooked for the last 6.7 miles to the finish. I think the return leg had a slightly less favorable wind and was clearly slower for me than the outbound leg. I really suffered those last miles with my mouth dry as a bone and my tongue trying its best to stick to the roof of my mouth. When I finished I was smashed and felt uncomfortably hot. It took me quite a while and a lot of cool drinks before I felt human again.
I ended up with a time of 47m49s which was good enough to win the Merckx Category but there were only 3 people signed up for it. Second Place was ex womens Master World TT champ Molly Van Houweling but she had already ridden once to win the womens Cat1/2/Pro category so she must have been tired. It is interesting to note the difference between Molly’s aero and non-aero times (44m06s vs 49m31s). It is hard to draw firm conclusions as she was likely to be tired for the second attempt and it was also much hotter but 5m25s is pretty significant.
My “Project 72” goal for this event was to beat 24 MPH (46m30s) but unfortunately I fell well short of achieving this with a speed of only 23.4 MPH (47m49s). It was all I had on the day and I don’t think there was anything I could have done to the bike to have gone any faster. I even had a great motivator in the shape of Molly chasing me off 30s.
Darn that was a hard TT 🙂