Berkeley Team Time Trial
16.1 mile with 3 major climbs
4th out of a field of 5
Below is a map and elevation profile.
The Berkeley TTT is a fun event and we look forward to sanctioned TTs that have a tandem division. The weather was beautiful and the tandems start last so with a start tine of 10:28 we had a perfect temperature for racing.
This was the second year in a row we did the race and our second season of racing. Last year, we finished in 54:45. This year we set a goal for a sub 50 time but we are really happy with cutting 4:26 off last year’s time. For the past three months we have been training with our coaches Vladimir and Dymitri at Five Rings Cycling in San Mateo following their training programs to improve our technique, strength and speed and it was nice to see tangible pay back.
We were the only returning team from last year. There were new riders and teams with limited information on their past performance other than everyone seemed to have us out gunned with respect to Category Rating and age.
We got to the event early and had a good warmup on the trainer and cruised up the hill to the start line. We met the other competitors and everyone got a chance to size each other up. We were third to last to start and there were two male – male tandem teams (“MM”) behind us. As it turned out, one MM team was a DNS.
We got a good start and soon we were cruising at threshold power. Our tactical plan was to run at threshold and go into the red zone on the hills. We rode the course the previous week and set our gearing and cadence targets.
The first hill was uneventful and went as planned. At the crest of the hill, the MM team passed. After passing us, they developed approximately a 30 second gap on us, which was now starting to decrease. Just before the second hill we passed the MM tandem. In addition to the MM team, we passed a Male - Female tandem that had started 1:30 seconds ahead.
Below is a pic of us closing on the MM team right before passing them.
As the second climb pitched up, our tandem decided that we should climb it in the 39 chain ring versus the 30, which we had planned. I did not shift early enough and it would not shift to the 30t chain ring. We were not going to let the MM team pass us on the hill. So, we spun up the hill in our 39. We were both close to max HR all the way up and clearly in the red zone but recovered quickly. After cresting the the hill, the power to weight / aero profile advantage returned to the MM team. They passed us and we both started down hill in pursuit getting set up for the final climb. The MM team was about 30 seconds ahead as we approached a bridge that we knew had a 1 to 2 inch lip. I decided to slow down and aimed for what I thought was the smallest bump. After we crossed the bridge, we closed on the MM team but they stayed around 20 seconds ahead of us on the climb up the 9% grade to the finish. This time the tandem shifted perfectly – go figure. We finished strong ~ 30 seconds behind the MM team.
Tactically, I thought we had very good race and we are pleased with our result and training. We could have used a little more top end gearing since we spun out chasing the MM team downhill but had plenty of legs left. This race had the dimension of some head to head racing that made the TT more interesting.
The bike worked very well and we like our Santana a lot for racing. The missed shift was an operator error versus tandem problem. I did not shift early enough. There were some questions about wheelsets for racing, gearing and aerobars. We use the Shimano Sweet 16 wheels and like them. For this race, we chose a 12/27 ten speed cassette. We have a 30/39/53 chain ring. A better choice for us would have been our 11/23 ten speed cassette. We spun up the 9% one mile final climb in our 30/24. And we could have used the 53/11 since we spun out in the 53/12 and had a lot of legs left. With respect to areobars, I think they are great for tandems and I have no problem shifting and transitioning quickly from the aero to the hoods to shift. Would aerobar shifters work better…absolutely, but they would not have made any difference in this race.