So SUN was nice… One thing I have to say these last three weeks is I’ve been sleeping really well, and it’s showing. It’s showing in training, and it’s showing when I race. I’ve been trying to get 8 solid hours of sleep, something I was NOT doing last year or this winter. And before TTs, I usually don’t sleep well, but SAT night my head hit the pillow and I was OUT.
I mentioned this before, but I love preparing for these TTs. Getting EVERYTHING organized the night before, getting the bike immaculate, getting the GPS programmed, having confidence that the training will show the next day, looking forward to seeing all the buds, visualizing a strong performance. Maybe I’ve been away awhile, but I’m having more fun competing than I EVER have, and that’s saying a lot…
Before going into my experience, HUGE KUDOS to EE athlete Bladdy Coronel for taking 3rd in the Cat-4s!!!! We just did a full fit on him on Tuesday, and apparently it helped!!! The great thing is he JUST finished Foundation work, didn’t even have two weeks of Build miles in his legs yet — so this is a VERY encouraging sign…
So the TT: Okay, I get there on time, register, go through the pre-TT routine (which went smoother than Sandy Hook) and get on the bike about 45m before my Start. I don’t like to bring a trainer, just put on a jersey and stuff my bottle and music player in there, and off I go, warming up back and forth on local roads. It actually frees up the mind, too, warming up like this, getting OUT. Everyone has their quirk, and this is mine… I just strip off the jersey and roll right up to the line — very quick, very simple.
Conditions were colder than ideal, but off I went at 9:13. I noted during my warm-up that there was a headwind going out. Didn’t matter — I already knew how I was going to meter my effort — hold back a smidge going out, EMPTY the tank on the way back. This was a good test for me, a long TT at this length, as (1) it’s the closest thing to States, (2) I wanted to see how rusty I was and (3) I wanted to see how well I could meter the effort… 36k can be a LONG distance if you go out too hard or are on a bad day…
I felt fast going out, almost averaging 30 mph, and I made sure to spin a touch more, averaging 101 rpms, NEVER getting overgeared. I thought I had a flat tire halfway out, sat up, looked at wheel, jiggled back and forth, looked at it again. Looked good. To be a complete ass, I even tugged up on my bootie and got back in the tuck and continued again.
On the return leg, I scooted off in a smaller gear, down in saddle almost immediately, and made sure to hold almost a high Tempo effort for the first full minute. Then and only then did I start to get into the TT effort, and I felt GREAT when I did this — coming back I FLEW. Cadence a touch lower, purposely, at around 98 rpms, as I muscled the gear a touch more, trying to maximize the effort.
One thing I should note is I’m certainly becoming a more mature rider. In the past, any hill, any roller, and I’m blasting up at max power, and on SUN I was eerily calm, made sure to actually NOT go any harder up the climbs, actually felt like I had to back off, then had the priceless feeling of accelerating over the top and going faster on the flats.
Near the end, on those fast final straights, I saw my 4m man in front, a very fast Cat-4 (I believe the Cat-4 State TT Champion), and I jackhammered at the pedals. I wasn’t able to catch him, but it was nice having that final carrot on a stick to ensure I left everything out there. And that I did — I actually was slowing in the final half K, but it is what is is.
Finished 1st with a 44:58, 29.0 mph. Not the fastest time ever at Kingwood, but given the time of year and the cooler conditions, I’ll take it — I was over 3m faster than when I did this same TT in 2008. The fastest times at Kingwood are usually in May and June, and then I hope to lop a minute off this time. I know O’Donnell did a KABLAMO time back in 2008, and I dunno if I can break that (nope!), but I want to go faster than I did here.
With O’Donnell, I felt I was almost as strong as him (almost — he did have the power advantage), but he was so much more aero, just slippery through the wind at 30+ mph, making him virtually untouchable. I felt if I could challenge him, #1 the TT would have to be very, very hard (up and down, twisty, full of accelerations like Somerset Circuit), or #2 I’d have to lose weight and get stronger. I’m now lighter than ever (which you wouldn’t think would help in flat, fast TTs, but it does) and my FT is continuing to creep upwards…
I used to hate flat TTs, never did well at any of them. But now with more specific training, I’m getting better. Sandy Hook was almost a fluke, but my training has been mostly SubThreshold and steady-state ’til now, and I was salivating at the chance to empty it at Kingwood, and it shows. Specificity is a beautiful thing. I also think the Paleo Diet and specialized use of the PowerCranks REALLY has helped. Avid PowerCrankers Roger Aspholm and Fast Eddy Ceccolini just DOMINATED their races up at Battenkill this weekend, and it’s not a coincidence. Cycling-related, PowerCranks are arguably the best thing I’ve ever purchased (power meter included).
So I’m happy right now. Errr, sorta. Post-TT, I drove home, then BACK down to Princeton to meet with a friend. When I get there, I find out she’s sick. So now I’m a borderline hypochondriac, and of course I awake this morning feeling like (*censored*)(*censored*)(*censored*)(*censored*), sore throat, headache. Blick. NOTHING ever goes easy, but you live and learn (next time say NO, lol).
Right now I’m all Airborne’d and Halls’d and OJ’d up, not cool… Readington is so short anyway, so I can’t really see myself beating Fritz or Freifelder or Walters (or Aspholm or Garguilo or any of the other fastest cats) but if I’m not feeling 100% by THURS, I’m just gonna skip it. I had a scheduled recovery week here anyway, so even if I’m not up to speed this weekend, I should be fine when I resume next week. If I skip Readington (GASP!), I’ll just have to go faster at the other events! 🙂
Thanks for reading.