Saturday’s UMCA 100 Mile Championship – a disaster . . . but still a good day

Texas Time Trials

So Saturday was the UMCA 100 Mile Championships at the Texas Time Trials in Cleburne.  As a reminder, I have been training for this event for a while. That includes a first for me, putting clip-on aero bars on my road bike. I put the aero bars on my bike a couple weeks ago and have been training on them exclusively (in an attempt to get more comfortable in the aero position, get my muscles acclimated, etc.).

The week leading up to the event my legs only felt so-so. Additionally, riding in the aero position was causing lots of issues with my shoulder (I have a shoulder injury that prevents me from lifting weights, swimming, or doing any activity with my arms above my head). But I figured the short-term pain was worth the benefit for this one event.

I drove out to Cleburne on Saturday morning feeling good. The Texas Time Trials is a very cool event. They have several events going on at once: a 500-mile randonee with multiple start times and both solo and team categories, a 24-hour time trial, a 200-mile UMCA National Championship, and the 100-mile UMCA national championship time trial.  People set-up tents/mini-aid stations along the road, it’s almost like Woodstock for cyclists.


I realized very quickly that my chances of placing in the top 3 were slim as more and more riders showed up for my event, particularly some semi-pro triathletes with full aero set-ups (time trial bike, aero suit, helmets, etc.).  Also, there wasn’t really any place to warm-up, but I figured I could take it a little easy on the first lap to get my legs warm. My goal was to finish in under 5 hours. Since I would need to stop a couple times to change out my water bottles, I figured I needed to average about 21 mph on the road to hit my < 5 hour goal.

The race started fast, the triathletes hit the gas hard from the get-go. I tried to keep pace with the leaders without pushing myself to hard. The course was much hillier than I expected (about 1,ooo ft of climbing on each 20 mile loop) and it was very windy (mostly a strong crosswind). I had  decent pace on the first lap and finished in 56 minutes (about a 21 mph), so I was right where I needed to be. Then it started . . .

Soon into the second lap I got a flat tire. Luckily (or not) I have had some bad tire kharma recently (including a string of 4 flats in 6 days) so my tire changing skills are good right now. I was able to change my tire in a few minutes and was back on the road. I started to really push it in order to make up some time and everything fell apart. My knee started to hurt on the climbs and then several miles later my legs started cramping in a way that they never have before. My upper hamstrings started to knot up and it was difficult for me to generate any power to the pedals. I decided to keep going until mile 40 and hopefully it would get better where I could continue. By the time I got back to the start/finish at mile 40, I was done. When I got off my bike I could barely walk, it even hurt just to sit down. This was really dissapointing for me because I have never not finished a race/event.  Looking back I think it was the combination of a couple factors:

  1. The aero bars. Should have put them on sooner or not used them at all. With the elevation changes on the course, I was constantly going from the aero position to hard climbing and back again.
  2. Should have found some way to warm-up. Definitely pushed it too hard early without warming up.
  3. Can’t make-up for bad luck. Once I got the flat, I should have called it a day and just considered it a 100 mile training ride instead of pushing so hard.

So you might think that after this I would have considered Saturday to be a pretty horrible day, not at all. The benefit to quiting at 40 miles is I was able to get home early enough to go with Jess and Grant to my nephew’s birthday party in Forney.  My sister’s family moved to Forney from Louisiana this summer and it’s nice to be able to see them on occassions like this without having to drive 7 hours (Forney is only an hour away).

Hannah and Grant

My nephew, Jack, had his party at a fun jump complex. Grant had a blast (as you can see in the photo above with his cousin Hannah). I have to say that was one of the best afternoons I have had with Grant. He and I ran through the fun jump place for almost 2 hours non-stop, laughing, going down the slides and just being silly. He really is a funny kid with a great personality. So all-in-all, a pretty good day.

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