Sunday, July 12, 2009

Race Report: Peterborough 40km Time Trial 7/12/2009.

Race Report: Peterborough 40km Time Trial 7/12/2009.
40km Bike
135 Participants
Weather: Overcast with moderate to mild winds from NW 17-21C

I was extremely excited for the entire week leading up to the Time Trial event in Peterborough. I had never competed in a cycling time trial event. This would be my first opportunity to judge myself against all of the top time trial cyclists in the province and find out where I ranked. I felt as though I had been preparing for this event for at couple of years indirectly by training for Duathlons and Triathlons. In the multisport events over the past year, I had only been beaten by a few competitors and I was eager to find out where I that putt me in relation to athletes focusing specifically on cycling. The week leading up to this race was also the 1st week in a very exiting Tour de France that included two time trial events; one individual and one team time trial. I watched the Tour events closely noting the riders form, cadence and effort.

Joining a Team
On my weekly Wednesday night ride with some of the guys from the Wheels of Bloor team, I got into a break with the shop owner, Radek. After a full lap leading Radek in the break, he asked me to ease off noting that I proved I could go hard. I took this as an opportunity to bring up something that I had been thinking about so quite some time; joining his team. I had accumulated 9 upgrade points in the Masters 2 category, one pore point and I would be eligible to upgrade to Masters 1. Radek’s Wheels of Bloor team is a Masters 1 team competing with a lot of success in most road races across the province. I had been cycling the Wednesday night crew for almost two year’s after having been introduced to the group by Ian; a friend that I met in my 1st race 3 years ago. Ian and I have been moving up through the cycling categories together and now Ian had obtained enough points to be forced into the M1 tier. The higher the cycling tier the more strategy and teamwork are essential components to success. I have increasingly enjoyed the team aspects involved in the higher levels of bike races and look forward to competing in the M1 category next year. In order to compete in the M1 level I would need to be part of a team. I wanted to be part of a competetiveteam of people that I liked. I decided that I would ask use the opportunity during the break with Radek to ask him about joining his team. Radek responded quickly asking me to come down to the shop the next day to get my uniform, I worried that there may not be enough room on the team for me as there were already about 8-10 riders on the team. Radek was very welcoming noting that there was room.

I drove down to the store 2 days later to get some repairs done to my road bike and to pick up my uniform. Radek who is a man of few words told one of his guys to get me a time trial and road uniform; he then told another one of his guys at the cash register that there was no charge. He turned to me and said ‘Kick Their Asses’ referring to the competition in the upcoming time trial race. That was it the message was simple time to perform and represent the team. Of course I had to let Ian know right away that I had finally joined his team and called him from the car. When I got home I put my new uniform and my helmet and showed my family the get up. The last time that I had been part of a team was in almost 20 years ago in university, an experience that I loved. In order to make my college team there were try-outs that lasted a couple of weeks; it took me until my second year at school to make the team. The cycling team was less formal but possibly more exclusive. My try-out had lasted two years where I had transformed myself from a novice cyclist with some strength but zero strategy, to a being able to apply team tactics leading to success during races. I am looking forward to working with the team.

I have built up a strong aerobic base that enables me to compete at a decent level for a relatively long period of time, which should translate well into a time trial event. My conditioning is not well suited to frequent changes in speed and quick high end bursts that you would experience in a sprint finish or a criterium race.

The Race
I had some issues with my front wheel; it was leaking air near the valve. I asked some of the guys parked beside me if they could lend me a wheel and fortunately they did. I raced on Ryan Roth’s practice wheel. Ryan ended up being the fastest rider of the day by a little more than 2 minutes, which is a huge margin for a 40km Time Trial. I am amazed at Ryan’s ability to generate power out of his slight 155lbs frame. At only 26 years of age, I predict that there are some great things ahead in his future.
I rode over to the start area which was located about 1km from the parking area, in order to have my bike measured. My bike checked out okay and I rode back to my car to set myself up on my trainer. I rode in the trainer for about ten minutes then headed out over to the race start area. The race start times were running about 15 minutes behind schedule. I pulled my bike over to the side of the road and sat down awaiting my start time. The start consisted of area consisted of two officials under a tent (in case of rain), one counting down to go and the other steadying the rider. The course began with a 2km slight climb. The riders were starting at 30 second intervals. I took my place in line as per the posted schedule, which had me just behind Carlo Capaldi and 60 seconds back of Andy Leger whom I had worded with in a break in the first race of the season ultimately losing to him in the last km. I checked my competitor’s bikes to see what gear they had chosen to start in. I wanted to choose a gear that would not be too difficult to start in, yet also one that I would not spin out of too quickly either.

As the race official signaled go I rode off out of the saddle getting up to speed quickly before getting into an aero position. I made sure not to go out to hard as per all I had read about Time Trial strategy online. I set my sights on Carlo and settled into a hard tempo. I got my hart rate up to 95% of max which is a level that I was able to maintain for the entire race. I was somewhat surprised at Carlo’s pace as I was not able to make much more than ten seconds out of the 30 second lead by the mid way turn around point. I kept telling myself that the difference would come in the second half of the race when my competitors would hopefully drop off while I maintained a tough pace. I also judged that I had not made up any time on Andy Leger at the turn around. Andy, Carlo and I passed many riders who had started before us and none of us were passed by any riders who started after. I narrowed the Gap with Carlo to 15 seconds but then lost six seconds on the hardest climb. I kept narrowing the Gap with Carlo until I finished just 2 seconds behind him with no sight of Andy.

The Time Trial event is like no other at this level because there is no real way of knowing who the winner is until the results are posted which happened 60-90 minutes after the finish. I ended up waiting on a park bench sitting beside Carlo and Andy outside of the arena where the awards presentation was going to take place. The results were posted on a wall outside the arena just before the presentations began. Andy got up and joined the group that had formed around the list. Andy came back over to the bench and indicated he had won, I was second and Carlo was 3rd. I was a little disappointed with not having defeated Andy but also curious to find out what the gap was in between us. As it turns out I had finished 13 seconds behind. It felt good to get up onto the podium and raise my hands for a quick photo, but I wished that I would have been able to go a little faster in order to get to the top spot.

I gave everything that I had on the course, which my heart rate monitor confirmed. I concluded that the only way to improve my performance would be to change my preparation. I gained a lot of respect for my fellow competitors one of whom at the elite level (Ryan Roth 26) completed the course in less than 52 minutes. I finished 91 seconds behind the top Masters 1 racer (Ilya Petrovsky). This 1st TT race has provided me with a great respect for the discipline and what it takes to truly master the event. I will use all that I have learned in my future training sessions in order to put myself in a position to challenge for the top spot amongst Masters riders.

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