Riding the “Race of Truth” – my first 40K time trial

Kuota K-Factor TT bike

On Saturday I competed in my first time trial, which just happened to be a 40K TT in Graford, TX. Since I just got back from two weeks off the bike while on vacation, I wasn’t expecting a real solid performance. However, you’ve got to start somewhere.

I pieced together a Kuota K-Factor back in April with the help of the good folks at Fort Worth Cycling. I normally ride the K-Factor with Flash Point FP60 wheels. I also ordered a disc cover from Wheelbuilder.com to convert the rear Flash Point wheel to a disc wheel. The cover was only $85 and pretty easy to put together. The combination is no  Zipp Sub-9 disc wheel, but I figured it would get the job done. I also purchased a Louis Garneau Superleggera aero helmet. I’ve read several articles claiming that an aero helmet saves more time than aero wheels, so I figured the Superleggera was money well spent.

Elevation profile for the 40K TT course

Elevation profile for the 40K TT course

I pre-rode the course the weekend before with my buddy Anthony, which was a huge help. I knew what to expect and, more importantly, new about the one significant climb on the course.

I got to the race 2 hours early, which gave me plenty of time to register, pin my number (number pinning on a jersey is an art-form), and visit with teammates before I started my warm-up. I started warming-up on the trainer a little more than an hour before my start time. I kept the pace fairly easy since it was already hot and I though the benefit of getting some lactate in the blood with hard efforts wasn’t worth the risk of dehydrating.

Graford TT Course Map

Graford TT Course Map

I truly had no idea what to expect. This was my first time trial, so I’ve never had to “dose” my effort before. The best advice I got was from the event’s promoter who said, “Ride hard. When you see an official . . . stop.”

I rode with a Garmin Edge 305 that allowed my to use my heart rate as a guideline (since I no longer train with power). I know my lactate threshold heart rate is 173 bpms based on the VO2 max study I participated in at TCU. The plan was to try and hover around 165-175 bpm for the first 13 miles (until the climb) and then open it up a little more. Did the plan work? Here’s how it went down:

9:33 – Get to the start line in time for my 9:36 start after using the port-a-potty

9:36 – Roll off the line in too high a gear – nearly tip over when they let go of my rear wheel.

9:40 – Despite my best-efforts to not go out too hard, my HR hasn’t dropped below 180 yet.

9:50 – I catch my 1:30 man (we went off every 30 seconds and there were two ghost riders in front of me). Further proof that I probably went out too hard.

10:00 – Feel horrible. Seriously consider “pulling the ripcord”. My two weeks off the bike are really showing and my legs and lungs are burning. The only positive is that my position is still pretty relaxed and I feel very aero.

I'm no Dave Zabriskie (above), but at least I felt aero

I'm no Dave Zabriskie (above), but at least I felt aero

10:05 – My teammate, Eric, catches me. He’s looking really strong and I pace myself to keep him within eyesight.

10:12 – I pass Eric on the climb. I tell him, “don’t worry, you’ll pass me again soon because there is a long gradual downhill.”

10:18 – Pick off a couple more riders right after the hill.

10:20 – Eric passes me. Once again, I make sure to keep him within eyesight.

10:20 – 10:30 – Feel really strong. It’s a slight downhill towards the finish so I’m able to really keep my speed up. This was a big morale boost since the  speeds I maintained on the first half of the course were disappointing.

10:31 – 10:35 – Realize the end is near and really ramp it up. My heart rate is now hovering in the mid 180s.

10:36 – With the finish line in sight I give it everything – hitting 193 bpm.

Cross the finish line in 1:00:45. Good enough for second in the Cat 4s behing my teammate. My average heart rate for the hour? 175 bpm.

10:37 – the rest of the day – I am in horrible pain! As soon as I slow down my legs and butt start to cramp. Try to walk things off while waiting for the official results and my check (2nd place got me $40, which my little guy decided we should use to buy ice cream and celebrate). The hour drive home was painful, my butt and legs were sore to the touch and everything hurt. I can ride a hard, fast century ride (in well under 5 hours) with little or no soreness – so I was totally surprised how the “race of truth” rocked my body. This was definitely the hardest hour I had ever spent on a bike.

For my first TT, after two weeks off the bike, I’m happy with my performance. I definitely plan on doing more TTs next season and will probably make the state time trial championships one of my “A” races in 2010.

4 responses to “Riding the “Race of Truth” – my first 40K time trial

  1. How did the helmet work? do you think it shaved off time?

  2. TailwindGeorge

    Thanks for this account of your first 40Km TT. I live in Scotland and have ridden the distance for a long time. Your time is very respectable especially after 2 weeks off and a major climb. Get onto a proper TT course designed for speed and you’ll easily get under the hour! Great times!

  3. Pingback: VO2-to-the-max summary. Warning: Bike geekiness ahead! « Texas Tailwind

  4. 2 weeks off the bike actually made you performance better…..i have totally surprised myself when i took a 20 day gap due to injury and rode a 15 k tt after 20 days and my performance was so good that i havent been able to match it ever again. your body stores carb when not training and that storage helped you to go faster. Train everyday and do this course again and you will not match the time you did after a 2 week break…..

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