Texas Time Trials 6 hour TT Race Report. SPOILER ALERT: I won!

1st placeThis weekend was the Texas Time Trials in Glen Rose, TX. This is an amazing event that features 500 mile, 48 hour, 24 hour, 12 hour and 6 hour time trials (the event is a RAAM qualifier).

TT24TT elevation profile

The course is on a hilly 26.5 mile loop (1,500 ft of climbing per loop). The course never goes flat, you’re either climbing or descending – a true leg-breaker.

The 6 hour TT was the focus of my recent training. My goal was to finish 125 miles in 6 hours; however, any lap started before the 6 hour finish is prorated, but you must complete the lap. That means I would probably be riding for 132.5 miles. I pre-rode the course with a couple teammates earlier this month and I was feeling very strong, maybe the strongest ever on the bike until . . . 10 days before the race, when I came down with a sinus infection and bronchitis. The Dr. put me on a heavy dose of antibiotics and recommended that I not “exert” myself for a couple weeks. I decided to play it by ear and hope that I would feel better in time for Saturday. I’m normally a quick-healer so I tried to stay positive.

My Kuota K-Factor with race wheels from Echappe Equipment

My Kuota K-Factor with race wheels from Echappe Equipment

Fast-forward to Friday night. I still felt like crap and hadn’t been on the bike in over a week, but I decided to go for a quick spin and see how the legs felt.
I realized on that ride there was no way I could skip the race. I might treat it as a “training ride” and only do 3 laps, but I had to give it a try.

unloading gear from my trusty FJ

unloading gear from my trusty FJ

I brought two bikes to the race:

  • Kuota K-Factor TT bike with Dura Ace 7850 tububular front wheel and Zipp 1080 tubular rear wheel.
  • Kuota Kredo road bike with SRAM Red and FlashPoint FP60 wheels.

Why two bikes? The course is not TT-bike-friendly and almost everyone rode conventional road bikes or road bikes with clip-on aerobars. I’m pretty comfortable on the TT bike, so I decided to take a chance. If I started having problems, I could switch to my Kredo when I passed the start/finish.

The Cycling CEO

The Cycling CEO

Ken, my CEO at ThinkCash and a cycling buddy, decided to do the 6 hour TT too. It was great to have someone to hang with pre-race. Ken and I would be “self-crewing” so we each set-up an ice chest on the side of the road just past the start/finish line. I planned on doing a fast stop on each lap to get two bottles per lap. The temp was around 90 degrees and I didn’t want hydration to be an issue (especially being sick).

The last smile on my face for the next 6 hours

The last smile on my face for the next 6 hours

After hearing the pre-race instructions from the official we had a few minutes to wait. It was at that moment I realized I had no bottles in my cages! I had forgotten to grab two out of the ice chest. I sprinted over to my ice chest, grabbed two bottles, and made it back just in time for the start.

Myself and another rider separated from the field right at the start. I knew he was a very strong rider and didn’t try to maintain his pace (no drafting in this event so you had to stay at least 3 bike lengths away from other riders or risk being DQ’d). I felt OK on the first lap. My HR was high for the level of effort, which I expected due to being sick. It basically felt like I was only riding with 3/4 of a tank. I finished the first lap in 1:15 (21.2 mph) and stopped to grab two bottles. I was told that the other rider was a few minutes ahead of me.

On the second lap I tried to keep the same pace and finished in 1:19 (20.1 mph). The other rider was about 10 minutes up the road, which meant he was flying (avg. 22 mph+). I decided that I was racing for second and would let-up a little on the next lap since I was 10+ minutes up on the next rider. Just 1 mile into lap 3 my left butt/leg started cramping. The aggressive aero position of my TT bike, mixed with all the climbing, was not a good combination. I seriously thought about turning around to get my road bike, but decided to try and push through it. The next 25.5 miles were no fun. My cramps, plus the heat, plus the wind (which picked up in the afternoon) were taking a toll. I dug out a ClifBar from my pocket and couldn’t generate enough saliva to chew it. I normally have no problem eating on the bike, but my illness had definitely zapped my appetite and putting down a gel pack or shot block was a struggle. However, the discomfort I was feeling was nothing compared to the brave souls racing the 12, 24, and 48 hour races – it was like riding by zombies as the brutal course and temps were taking their toll on everyone.

I finished the 3rd lap in 1:25 (18.2 mph). Considerably slower than my first two laps, but OK given my cramping, etc. As I swapped out for my road bike I was told that the only rider ahead of me had pulled out with cramping after lap 2, so I was the leader on the road (with #2 at least 15 minutes back). This news was huge, not just for motivation, but also for planning. With my current lead I could probably win with just one more lap (negating the need for a 5th pro-rated lap). I picked the pace up slightly on the 4th lap, but tried not to push myself too hard. I crossed the finish line (106 miles) in 5:25. (19.6 mph average). Now I just had to hope that no one else would finish and go out for a pro-rated lap (even with a slower average speed, one extra pro-rated mile would have stolen my win). The next closest rider crossed the line in just over 6 hours – my win was secure.

My very cool trophy for the 6 hour TT win

My very cool trophy for the 6 hour TT win

Considering that just 24 hours before I didn’t think I’d race, I was pretty happy to walk away with a win. Plus, now I have incentive to go back next year and try to put up 125 miles.

The best part of the whole experience was the next morning when Grant (my 4-year-old) woke up and saw my trophy:

“Dad, that trophy is awesome! It’s pretty cool . . . can I bring it to school for show and tell?”

Big thanks to Dan Driscoll and all the volunteers for putting on such a great event.

Zipp 1080 rear wheel from Echappe Equipment

Zipp 1080 rear wheel from Echappe Equipment

Also want to thank the guys at Echappe Equipment (www.racewheelrental.com). Their race wheel rental program is great. For the cost of a tire I was able to rent a $2,800 set of wheels that were selected specifically for my event. It’s like having 10 sets of wheels in my garage!

Now, time to figure out how to defend my title in 2010.

5 responses to “Texas Time Trials 6 hour TT Race Report. SPOILER ALERT: I won!

  1. Ben,
    Congratulations man! That is an awesome story. I love the fact that you went for it even though you were feeling crappy. I have become a late convert to road biking in the last two years and have had fun checking out your blog. Keep up the writing and the winning!
    Cheers,
    Grant

  2. Gutsy move, Ben. Congrats on a fine win. Discomfort is temporary, but your win is forever. Good on ya.

  3. Love the story!!! Congrats.

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