Esparto TT M45+ 1/2/3 – Fixed Gear

I haven’t ridden an aero bike for well over 2 years as I haven’t felt safe to ride on aero bars since my stroke. The Monday before this event I made the decision to ride my Felt Fixed bike with aero bars for the Esparto TT. I was hoping that the non-technical nature of the course would mean my balance wasn’t an issue. I doubt I will be pushing out great power as I have had so little seat time in the aero position but I was hoping it will be faster.
This race was won in 34 minutes last year and last place was 42m05s in the 45+ 1/2/3. My goal for this event, like all others this year, was to not come last so I was aiming to beat 42 minutes. This would be an average speed of >22.8MPH which is faster than I have achieved on my Merckx setup on my practice course. I am hoping the aero setup will be about 1MPH faster but this really is a stretch goal for me.

I have never raced this course but looking at the profile it looks quite rolling but not at all technical. Not too bad for a fixed gear. I decided to ride a 48 x 14 gear which works out to 24.1 MPH at 90RPM. I decided that due to my balance issues a slower pedaling cadence would be better. I was struggling a bit with my weight for this event but it’s not hilly nature shouldn’t have too much of an Impact.

I literally dusted off my Felt TK3 Track bike on the Monday before the event and went for a ride on my practice TT course (Del Valle). The bike was setup for 48×15 and I haven’t ridden it for over two and a half years. The good news was that I actually felt OK on the aero bars and that I went faster than I have done on my other fixed bike all year. The bad news was that I was only about 0.5mph faster rather than the 1mph I was hoping for and it aggravated an old IT band injury. This was with a regular helmet, front wheel and 48 x 15 so not a full race simulation. The other good news was that I averaged 23MPH which beat my 22.8MPH goal.

Due to work commitments I was unable to ride the bike again until Friday but I took the down time to get it converted to 48×14 and put in the HED 3 front wheel. The bike definitely felt a bit different with the HED 3 front wheel and I didn’t feel too safe in the crosswinds but the changes got me an improvement of nearly 1 MPH which was great. I changed my goal to be 24MPH which meant beating 40m. I am obviously not used to the position as my legs felt very fatigued for the rest of the day. This ride put me at the grand total of 45.8 miles of seat time on this bike which is not ideal.

I began to wonder if the Kask Helmet and visor was such a good choice on the warmup.  Even at 9am in the morning it was already getting really hot and I didn’t feel too great.  I normally like to do a few hard efforts on my warmup but today I decided to give it a miss. It is hard warming up on a gear like 48×14 as you have to be going pretty fast to get your legs spinning. I got the grand total of 6.5 miles as my warmup.

I made a complete mess of the start and couldn’t get my foot clipped in which lost me a few seconds but I soon got a reasonable pace going.  The first section felt like it was slightly up hill and the wind was not very favorable so I was struggling to hold a good pace. I got caught just before the first right turn where the course became a little lumpy for a while. It was on this section I started to feel unwell and seriously contemplated packing.  I decided just to keep on riding but couldn’t push any more.  I got caught by another two riders that passed me like I was stopped on the Southbound leg and I was doing 27MPH+ on this section. By the time we hit the final right turn back into the wind I was pretty toast. Normally I lift the pace a little for the last KM but today I was running on empty. I crossed the line and didn’t manage to beat 40 minutes and also felt really ill.  I have felt pretty bad after racing this year but this time if felt terrible for 30+ minutes after the event.  I felt so bad I was petrified I was going to have another stroke.  This was a real wake up call for me and I have decided to retire from racing. I did manage not to come last but this was my last race.

I will really miss racing but I don’t want to feel like I did at the end of todays race ever again. It wasn’t the kind of smashed you feel after a really hard effort but something much worse. I suppose I will sell my beloved TT bikes and aero wheels as I don’t think I will ever ride them again.

I don’t know how riding fixed impacted my time today and it is hard to say how much quicker I would have been riding my Trek. The course didn’t really have and serious hills and there was nothing that was too much trouble on the 48×14.  My lack of seat time in the aero position definitely didn’t help matters. The course was quite bumpy in places and I came off the aero bars a few times on the down hill sections.  My maximum speed was 30.2 MPH and my average speed a rather disappointing 23.6MPH.


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