Last month, as I trolled the Txbra list of scheduled events, I noticed the addition of Iron Haus Time Trials, the first Saturday of each month. That got my attention, so I clicked on the link for more information, only to find that it is held in Castroville, 120 miles south (go through San Antonio and turn west). That kinda put me off, and the final nail in the coffin was it wasn't a sanctioned event. So I decided to let it slide, even though there are no more time trials between now and USA Cycling State Finals.
Coming in second last week at Senior Games State Finals left me pondering. I was only seven seconds out of first, and had no doubt I could be faster. My drills and practices weren't getting the job done. For the past several years, usually after Tour de Gruene in November, I floated the idea of getting a coach. Earlier this year I rejoined the Bicycle Sport Shop club road team (after several years hiatus), with the idea that the Sunday rides would increase my strength and speed. This iteration is much better than the previous, has two excellent captains, and a congenial core group of riders. This past Wednesday, at a club social, I inquired of Todd who he would recommend. First on his list was Dave and second was Stefan (whose name I knew from his winning so much at Gruene). Todd advised if I came to the Driveway (criterium racing) on Thursday he would introduce me to David, so I did.
While Todd was out racing, I introduced myself to David and we had a long chat, leaving me extremely impressed (especially his knowledge of how to work with old folks like me), the upshot being I would send him an email, then we could get around to the paperwork. David (or his company) is not officially my coach yet, so we leave that story for another time. But part of what he wanted me to do was attend the Iron Haus races. Ok, pressure was on.
So, with the first rider going off at 8:02am, I needed to be there at 7am, thus leaving home at 5am, rolling out of bed at 4am, after having taken my thyroid medication at 3am. All went as planned and I was pleased to see the Iron Haus Fitness Center open as I pulled into the parking lot. I have no problem getting up early, but other body functions are never happy this early in the morning. Even though the website indicates the order of racing is done by the order of checking in (first one in goes out first), it looked to me that the first one there got to choose his start number. In any case, with the weather indicating possible rain blowing through in the afternoon, and knowing that the wind increases with the rising of the sun, I had no problem grabbing the first spot.
The problem was in the warm-up. It was chilly, with a northeast wind, fairly stout. I have long since given up trying to warm up on the trainer, it just doesn't happen. The official sunrise this morning was 7:19am, even though we had cloud cover. The route is on a nice farm road, with shoulder. Even so, I cut my warm-up from thirty minutes to twenty, giving me just enough time to change to my time trial bike and accoutrement, and take a few rounds of the parking lot before heading to the start line. Problems continued.
Apparently when I hit the Start button, I didn't push hard enough. About five minutes later I caught on, and started the timer. The HRM was showing me erroneous readings in the 220s, which happens in the cold and wind. Breathing was ragged, but coming along. At the four minute mark (nine minutes into the ride), the HRM began showing proper numbers, not that it mattered much. I was having a hard enough time fighting the headwind. Thankfully, the course is mostly flat, with only a few short rollers. Based on my 10k and 40k times this year, I estimated a thirty-five minute outing, which should be around fourteen minutes on the computer for my turn-around. Sure enough, but closer to fifteen minutes, the motorcycle officer motioned me around. At this time of morning, there was precious little traffic for him to hold.
Now with the wind mostly at my back left shoulder, my speed increased. That was more like it. But as I approached the last mile, it seems to shift more to the east, becoming a side wind. It probably looked like a grimace, but I assure you it was a smile, as I once again guessed right with the weather. Putting on a decent acceleration for the end, I crossed the line at thirty minutes, fifteen seconds (plus the five I missed).
I came home with a gold medal. First in my age group, and first overall! But we must refer to the title of this post for more explanation: The first shall be last, and the last first! Sadly, no one, repeat, not one other person, signed up for the 20k. They all went for the 40k. My stats, which hopefully will be perused by my new coach, are woefully skewed. But at least I have a baseline. They have an award ceremony about fifteen minutes after the last rider, but I was looking at hanging around for another hour while traffic in San Antonio and Austin built up, so I requested a one-person ceremony and headed for home. I don't think any of the 40k riders would be impressed with my winning. With all the early business, even with the two hour drive, I was home by 11am.