Incredibly this was my first time participating in any of the Carnation Time Trials… I guess by this time of year I am usually not so hyped on a solo effort but man are these well run and the prizes are good. And, I know all the courses because I have ridden these roads countless numbers of times.
Having done pretty much squat for the last several days I was either going to be well rested and able to push myself hard or feel somewhat blocked. In the end it was mostly the later. But in honesty it was probably not because of a lack of recent riding and more because of a lack of any serious or event-specific training lately.
ASIDE - I am a huge proponent of doing what is fun. If you like participating in recreational rides like centuries, go for it. If you like trying to drop your friends on training rides, get it on. If you like riding the dirt, go mountain biking. The only problem is doing whatever you want will not net you the best race results; that takes some dedicated effort and some specific training. On the upside doing what you want does lead to good work (racing in this case) life balance.
Yesterday the weather was utter crap. Okay, it could have been colder but still… super wet.
Today we lucked out. I still got sprinkled on and many of the roads were damp but it was not cold and I did not get soaked. And it was dry and pleasant at the finish. I can live with that.
I had volunteered to help with setup in exchange for my entry fee so that meant showing up at the start at 5:30. That's early even for me as it meant waking up at 4. Corrie M and Nikos M and I threw a ton of signage into my van and off we went to mark the south half of the course. Things were going swimmingly until we got to Fall City. The instructions said to flag 308th but both Corrie and Nikos knew that in years past the course had turned on 324th. What to do? We opted to follow the directions and not assume we knew better. I was very careful to make sure that the 1 km to go sign really was 1 km from the finish line… nothing worse than that 1.5 or 2 km kilometer!
We got back to the school (registration, results, etc.) and I asked Neal G if 308th was really the right street and wouldn't you know it, it was not. Oh well, I'll wager a race with no problems has never been staged so Chance R and I got back in the van and gunned it back down the loop which took us past the finish.
The tent was gone. WTF? We had just set it up, did it get blown off the road or something? There was zero wind - someone had stolen it. What a bummer. Since there was nothing we could do we just corrected the signage and headed back to the school. Neal already knew about the missing tent and was pretty bummed. All it takes is some catastrophe like this and all your proceeds vanish. Then a stoke of luck - the local police had found the tent and it got returned. Thank goodness. Whoever took it must have dumped it in short order. Jerks.
With all the extra driving around I managed to get in a 25 minute warm-up on my trainer before it was time to pack up and head to the start. At least that is what I thought… Neal had told me that he was going to "send me off" 15 minutes before my start time. Since my entry was totally last minute I guessed that this meant he was going to squeeze me into the start order and that I needed to be at the start by 9. Not so. When I rolled up the start order was just as advertised and what Neal meant was he was going to tell people to head out to the start (which was about one mile out of town) 15 minutes prior to their start. Live and learn.
Back to my warm-up, it did not feel very good. I kinda dorked around in relatively easy gears for about 15 minutes trying to get psyched up and then put in some half-hearted efforts that were supposed to be about 60 seconds but only ended up being 30 at most and finally just climbed off. I swapped my wheels, put on my shoe covers and helmet and hit the road.
Since I did get to the start early and since it had taken less than 10 minutes to ride there and since I just realized I had forgotten the pre-race piss it was back to the school I went. Mission accomplished I finally headed out to the start for real.
I was last. And I mean I was the LAST rider to head out. Who was in front of me? The Cat 1-2 men. That pretty much translates to no carrot for Martin.
Still, I was in a pretty good mood. The weather was cooperation as well as could be expected today, I was not cold by any stretch of the imagination and even managed to joke with the official as he was counting me down. And off I went.
As we were setting up Nikos had told me that a good time for him was about 1:02 and a not so good time would be about 1:05 so since the course was 27 miles long I knew that if I could maintain 27 mph that I would have a good time. Naturally at the start the juices are flowing and 27 mph was no problem at all but I did hold back some on purpose to avoid blowing up prematurely.
The biggest hill is very close to the start. And the biggest descent is right after the hill. Then there are a few 'rollers' (pretty small really) and then it's basically flat for the last 15 miles. The first corner was no problem. The second one snuck on my and I slowed down way too much. It was downhill and slightly off-camber and the last thing I wanted to do was bite it. Then I think you don't turn at ALL for like 10 miles… Finally heading north towards the golf course you make a few tight turns and here I slowed too much again as there was mud on the road. In hindsight I could have gone faster in all the corners.
Riding alone is interesting. Some people can really focus and dig deep. I fall into that category sometimes but I also fall into the category that gets distracted easily. As I was riding south on Hwy 203 I kept marveling at how freaking green it was and I also kept thinking about the MTB trails that are supposed to be out here. Not that I was off in la la land but my focus could have been sharper for sure.
Finally, as I approached Fall City I saw someone in front of me; that helped. I caught them (a woman) at the traffic circle just across the bridge from Fall City. Heading north along W Snoqualmie River Rd I saw another rider (Audrey B). Knowing I was nearing the finish and with this carrot in front of me I was able to turn it up a little. I passed Audrey with about 3 km to go and tried to keep accelerating but that last km is every so slightly uphill and I think I was only able to shift once - like from my 15 to my 14 I think.
By the time I crossed the finish line I was hauling! And there was an intersection just 110' away, yikes! Normally I like to coast, relax, shut my brain off and catch my breath after finishing a TT, not this time. I had to hammer the brakes to avoid flying into the street and getting t-boned by a car. Good times. I actually had so much momentum that although I slowed and avoided traffic (I almost had to pull a foot out of my pedal) I didn't quite some to a stop and after the car passed I drifted out and and turned right to start my ride back to the school.
As I rolled back to the van all my muscles started to tighten up - it has been too long since I raced a TT, especially one this long. By the time I got in the van to drive home my glutes were in f'ing knots! What a bizarre feeling. Once I got home I had to squat and hold it to stretch them. [Queue funny/sarcastic response…]
This is a pretty good course. At this time of day on a weekend there is not too much traffic on Hwy 203 and there was virtually none on the other roads. It is perfect for the rider that can peg it and hold it or simply a huge motor like the guy (John M) that beat me by a few seconds.
Congratulations to John (the guy that beat me by a few seconds), Alex R and Chandler L (under one hour baby!) for great rides.
|Breakfast||4:30 AM - cereal|
|Workout Food||1 hour prior to race - sips of HEED|
20 minutes prior to race - gel
small bottle w/1 scoop HEED and half a tablet of nuun
|Time of Day||9:15:30 AM|
|Weather||upper 50s, some drizzle, mostly dry|
|Course||pretty flat, good pavement, the corners were only sketchy because they were wet|
|Equipment||Time Trial Bike|
Zip disk, tri-spoke front
|Clothing||Craft short sleeve undershirt, long sleeve skinsuit, Lycra shoe covers|