Tuesday, August 2, 2011


Yes, I'm still whining about the lack of strength and whatever mysterious ailment is keeping me from going 100%. However, I managed to come home from the USAC State Time Trials with a silver medal in the Individual and gold, plus a jersey, in the Team competition.

The week-end went like this: First stop, acupuncture. Next, drive to Lytle, arriving shortly after 1pm. I changed into bike clothes and prepared to preview the TT course, a simple 10k out and 10k back with a profile that seemed to indicate mostly flat with a long incline coming to the finish line. My Garmin indicated the high temperature at 114 degrees due probably to sitting still waiting for me to get ready. The minimum temperature of 105, unfortunately, accurately reflected the heat. Additionally, a stiff wind whipped my face. Well, today wasn't about speed but to gauge shifting (a delay in shifting costs precious seconds) and road conditions. It struck my brain that, except for the initial downhill, the rest of the first leg moved generally uphill. Between the wind and the incline my time out registered 24 minutes, 17 seconds, an average of 15.6 mph. Coming back the time improved to 15:12 or 23.3 mph. I consumed the whole bottle of energy drink and was wringing wet. Bummer. Speaking of wet, Tropical Storm Don was scheduled to come through late in the evening and still be raining in the morning. My TT bike has never been wet. Castroville, 12 miles away, provided adequate lodging, and became the next stop.

The Saturday morning routine: up at 4:30am, bagel breakfast, and on my trainer, in the room, at 5am. A half hour of warm-up, then stretching, then it was time to leave for Lytle and check-in. It was still dark at 6:15am, but I secured a prime parking place, set up the trainer, picked up my packet and readied myself for the 7:17am start time. A little more trainer work, then I pulled the TT bike out of the car and completed preparations to race.

The forecasted showers did not materialize (as it turned out, my start time was between showers) and the wind light. (A slight diversion: the groups after us were younger and rode 40k. Where we turned around, they turned right and did an additional 10k and turned around. I talked to some of them that afternoon, and they said when they made the right turn it was into rain for the whole time until they came back onto our course and as soon as they made the left, the rain stopped). I knew half the racers in our group, and all but one of them started before me. Monty started 30 seconds behind and my goal was to hold him off for at least three miles. Well, I did hold Monty off as planned, but he went by me like a flash.

Because I wasn't really confident in my conditioning, I went out with a high cadence and smaller gear, and came back with more strength work. It must have worked in that I came in 3rd in the 65-69 age group and 6th in the 60+ group (which means only three riders in the 60-64 group were faster than me). Monty is from Oklahoma and not eligible for a medal, thus I collected silver behind Tom, with a time of 32:09. This better than I expected result had me feeling quite pleased with my effort. Now that I have had a chance to review the Garmin graph of my ride, I see that it really is a series of ups and downs (both ways), making my original perception erroneous. Not that it mattered. The average speed of 23 mph might have been a tad quicker if I had gone out faster, but it would not have made a difference in placement.

Sunday our start time was 9:17am, so the morning was a bit more relaxed. The 2nd, 3rd, and 4th places in the ITT comprised our 60+ team, plus one other rider, Bob, who didn't ride on Saturday. We met at 8:30ish and went out to practice for about 20 minutes, then made final preparations to race. The teams had a 2 minute gap between each start, and we were the very last team. In front of us were the 35+ ladies and one of us wandered up to advise they were being followed by a group of dirty old men. Tropical Storm Don (The Dud) was history and the morning had a slight breeze and 30 degrees C (why the Garmin switched to Centigrade is beyond me).

We did not push hard, having learned our lesson two years ago. Even so, our speed kept us on track for a good finish time. When we made the right turn at 10k (the team race is 40k) we could see the ladies in the distance. Right before the turn-around I had the lead and had come close to the ladies. From behind came the loud urge: Go! Go! so I pushed hard and we passed them right before the cone. It took a bit of time to get the four of us moving again, but we held off being passed back, then gradually increased our lead, and within two miles the ladies were out of sight. We made the left turn and had 10k to go when suddenly "the monkey" jumped on my back. My energy which had powered me along more or less effortlessly, drained quickly and I had to ask for less speed (compliance being mandatory in that we had left Bob several hills back and had to have three finishers). Tom Hall urged me on, pacing me the last kilometer and I gave it all I had.

It took quite a while for me to complete my warm-down. First easy pedaling for five minutes, then stopping, then some more pedaling. I drank two bottles of water and some pickle juice. Walked around a bit, changed out of my wet clothes. Waited around, talked to the guys, purchased a Championship jersey (not enough teams had signed up to get a free one, but eligible folks could purchase one), collected the gold medal. Eventually headed home, feeling extremely mellow. A few days off and begin hill rides in preparation for Skyline Drive and the BlueRidge Parkway.

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