My focus this year has been on time trialling, so for my first race of the year, I chose the Calaveras Road TT on Saturday, May 23rd, near Sunol, CA (between Oakland and San Jose, in the East Bay). The course was out and back, 10 miles long, with small rollers in the first 4 miles, and a 250' climb on a tree-lined road winding up the side of a ravine in the last 3/4 mile before the turnaround.
It also featured wind – at the start, it was ripping at 7-15 mph from right to left, making me nervous about the Zipp disk rear and 808 front wheel. Those are good aero wheels, but they can also catch a lot of wind. And with 160 lbs of air in the tires the somewhat twitchy Cervelo P3C felt even more so as I warmed up. I thought about switching to my backup 404 wheels (less aero, but more manageable in cross-winds), but there wasn't time, and other riders were riding similar wheelsets as mine anyway.
My start was good, and thankfully much of the road was lined by trees, which helped to block the wind somewhat. But every time the route went past a driveway entrance or open field, I had to work hard to keep control of the bike as wind gusts kept trying to blow me over.
Other than the wind, the first 3 miles were uneventful. So I settled down into a low aero position for some quality time in the pain zone.*
I might have gone out just a little too fast, because the climb in the last mile to the turnaround really put the hurt on me. In the last 100 meters before the turnaround, I was over the red line, and running low on gas. Thankfully, I could recover on the downhill (though I had to be cautious on the descent, because I'd not ridden the course previously).
The race organizers had placed mile markers on the return leg, so when I saw there was only one mile to go, I kicked in the afterburners (hah!) and hammered as best I could to the finish.
When I saw my time (25:19), I was a bit disappointed, because I was hoping for sub-25, but I also knew I'd ridden well, and hadn't left anything out on the course. Twenty minutes later, as they started posting results, I was pleased when my time was better than the first six posted.
As it turned out, I placed 4th out of 20 in Masters 55+, missing third place by 13 seconds (or, per the subject line, 1.3 seconds per mile), and second place by just 23 seconds.
Given the conditions and the competition, I'm very pleased with the results, and look forward to my next two races (Dunlap on June 7th, and the district championship in Sattley on the 14th).
Thanks for reading this, and if anyone has any tips on how I can find an extra 1-2% more speed, I'm listening!
* - Besides aerodynamics, and aerobic capacity and training, time trialling is fundamentally about managing pain and discomfort while going all out. Thankfully, after my first marriage, pain means nothing to me...