Monday, March 1, 2010

Frostbite Time Trial 2010: The Truth Can Hurt

They call the individual time trial the "race of truth" - I'm guessing that's because there's no draft to hide in or rocket out of, no pack-dynamics that might box you in at the sprint finish, etc. It's just you, your bike, the wind, and a stopwatch.

In the end there are many things to blame, but generally in an individual TT other racers is not one of those.


Woke up early, since my start time was 9:23 and we had to get there by 8:30 anyway to register. Tried to eat some two egg & cheese english muffin sandwiches, but I couldn't down the second one. Pre-race jitters were too much I guess.. this was the first race of the season after all, and my first race on the Recycled Cycles team!

I actually put some aero-bars on the Ciocc, and practiced a few times on them the week before the race. Honestly I should have spent more time on these, and worked on the aero-position more. At first it was a bit unsettling riding on Lake Wa Blvd with traffic, and settling into the aero-bars. Felt like I could easily topple over on a bump or something, but eventually you gain confidence and hopefully a little speed.

Race Goals:
  • Not keel over while riding aero-bars in front of anyone
  • Not get last in the Men's Cat 4/5
  • Don't start too hard
  • Do your own race (e.g. don't chase anyone, just pace)
  • Keep cadence high
  • Don't start too hard
My Race

Lined up in time, got up to the start where they had an official and a holder that would allow you to clip in from the start. The official reminded me, "I will count down from 5, DO NOT go on one!" Guess they've had issues with that..

I had done the Carnation TT a few years ago, so I was all too aware of the classic TT mistake - going too hard from the gun, and then blowing up before the finish. Usually in a TT you want to accomplish what is known as a "negative split," e.g. to do the second leg of the race faster than the first one. I wasn't really shooting for the negative split, I just wanted to pace correctly this time.

So the count-down starts, I go, and I'm off. It felt great after days & hours of preparation, practice, and visualization; the rubber was finally meeting the road. Whether or not my time would impress anyone, I had made it to the race, didn't forget anything, and pulled off without unclipping or keeling over. So far, so good.

I knew that the Cat 4 guy behind me, Kevin T. from Second Ascent, was pretty strong and that there was a good chance of him passing me. I had 30 seconds on him to start. But I was trying to "race my own race", and just try to do the best I could..

But I must've ignored the PowerTap for the first two minutes on the road, because looking back I was putting in around 400 watts for the first two minutes or so - nothing spectacular but also not anywhere close to "pacing." Argh! A few minutes in and I settle down, but I'm already feeling kind of cooked.

Three or so miles into the 9-mile event sure enough Kevin came by, and I actually gave him a cheer of encouragement. Might as well help a friend along since I'm just trying not to blow up before the finish.

Not too long after that I heard the whoosh-whoosh-whoosh of a disc wheel, and someone in a full skin-suit/aero-helmet/TT-bike setup came flying by, as if I was standing still. Hopefully that was one of the Cat 1's.. but all I could think of was "ignore all that, just keep it around 270 watts for now."

So I just tried to keep the pace steady, and look forward to the turn-around point at about 4.5 miles out on Lowell-Snohomish Road. Seemed to take longer than I wanted to get there... that was a long 4.5 miles!

Turnaround, to finish

Kevin was probably only 15-20m ahead of me at this point, but enough that I didn't really plan on catching him, but certainly wanted to keep him in sight. And I was kind of hoping I could just "go faster" on the second leg, which I did, but then again he did too. The way back had a slight tail wind and is has some ever-so-slightly-downhill sections. You can really get going on the way back.

I kept him in sight, but I was fading in the last few miles and he was gaining time on me.

There were a few times on the way back I actually coasted for a seconds, just to give the legs some relief the burn and to give the mind a change of pace. Somehow nobody else passed me in that time... definitely will be an easy place to improve for next year, in retrospect it was stupid but at the time I felt toasted.

Finally the 200m sign came up, and I started ramping up the speed/rpms. Stayed in the aero-tuck since the legs didn't really feel like they had enough left for a stand-up sprint anyway. A sense of relief rushed over me after finishing - first race out of the way, no mechanicals, no crashes. But it didn't feel like a fast ride..

And of course then you start thinking, "why didn't I just go faster. I could've pushed harder here, and there, and yada yada.." Oh well.

Post-Race Stats & Thoughts

The (smoothed) Speed/Cadence/Power graph:

- Placing: 52nd out of 64 entrants in the Men's Cat 4/5.. (time was 23:31, ouch)
- the Men's Cat 4/5 winner had a time of 19:59
- median was 22:26
- the Cat 1/Pro winner was 18:18 (!)
- Plenty of room for improvement for next year, hopefully I can shave at least a minute off that

Out leg: 21.8 mph, 277w
Back leg: 24.3 mph, 264w
Avg speed
: 22.9 mph,
Avg power: 270w (4.12 w/kg)
Avg cadence: 99 rpm (close to the 100 rpm target)
Avg heart rate: 176 bpm

For next time

Though TT's aren't my focus, I will have to do them from time to time, especially at the Tour of Walla Walla stage race in April. So I will need to improve at them at some point...

What I'll change next time:
  • Scope out course more before-hand
  • Spend more time practicing the aero-position, getting used to the bars
  • Warm up for more than 20 minutes prior to your start
  • Bring a trainer to the start maybe
  • Pacing, pacing, pacing... this is the essence of the TT
  • And of course improve threshold, which is something any (competitive) cyclist should probably be working on

Kira was there and took some excellent photos of a lot of the racers: - great shots, baby! Some highlighted photos:
  • Me, attempting to look aero, but feeling like crap
  • Kevin, the guy who started 30 seconds behind me and finish almost 30 seconds in front! He got 5th in the Retro division
  • This guy, who was truly "retro" with a full 70's outfit on
It was great seeing a bunch of old faces from last season - Chad, Kevin, Jordan, Jordan - it was a bit like returning to school after summer break. You could call it Washington University of Suffering.

Welcome back everyone!


Anonymous said...

Good job Matt. Where did this fall in your training cycle? Tim

matt m said...

Hey Tim,

This was at the end of a rest week in "Build 1" - now I'm moving on to "Build 2", which is three more weeks of intensity and then a rest week.

In theory I'm not supposed to "Peak" for a few months.. we'll see, hopefully that's true!

See you at Seward this year? (assuming this is the same Tim)

Anonymous said...

Yes, Seward Park. I am looking forward to it. See you then.

Dessa said...

Looks like your HR took a dip in 2nd quarter, then went up after turn around. Maybe the problem was to keep pressure on the pedals going into headwind? Or, maybe you went out too hard and it took a bit to recover. Just hold back first 3 minutes next time, you'll be faster by the end.