As of yesterday, I have officially swapped out “Tempo Tuesday” for “Time Trial Tuesday”. After much deliberation, I decided to join the Newmarket Eagles Cycling Club to participate in their weekly time trial events. I was hesitate to join because I wouldn’t know anyone and I was worried that I would stick out like a sore thumb among a group of serious [fast!] cyclists.
Some friends encouraged me to go for it, and I knew it would be a great way to get stronger and more comfortable on the bike in a simulated race environment each week. Yesterday was my first time and I was extremely nervous! As I parked and started getting my bike ready, it was hard not to be intimidated by all the guys rolling around in fancy matching race kits, full disc wheels and teardrop helmets.
I checked in, got ready and went for a warm-up ride, wondering what the heck I had gotten myself into. In the mean time, I managed to spot a couple of familiar faces from swimming and it was nice to chat away the nerves a bit. I made a couple new friends as well. I felt better once I knew there were plenty of more casual cyclists in the group as well, and everyone was very friendly and welcoming.
Next thing I knew it was time to line up. We were assigned a starting order number (slowest to fastest) and each rider goes off 30 seconds apart. You call out your number to the marshall at the turn-around and again at the finish in order to get a recorded time.
I started in 10th spot and waited eagerly for my turn. I had one shoe clipped in and fired up my bike computer as they counted me down: 5, 4, 3, 2, 1…
It took me several tries to get my other foot clipped in – it’s a lot more challenging when trying to do so quickly! That’s something to work on and will be great practice for tris. Once I was clipped in, I settled into aero right away and just hammered it. I really had no idea how to pace myself, but I compared it in my head to a 5K (running) race effort, which translates to GO HARD AND FAST.
The course was mostly flat with some slight inclines/declines and gentle rollers, with just one bigger hill (still minor) near the turn-around. The 30 second separation in start times was great and gave me tons of space. It was nice to just get in the zone and not worry about anybody else around me. That being said, I had my eye on cyclists way up ahead and hoped I could gradually reel them in.
As I approached the turn, the marshall has his flag raised which meant that a car was coming up behind me. D’oh! He drove through extremely slowly, which in any normal situation would have been appreciated but in this case I was wishing he would just hurry up! I had to unclip and come almost to a complete stop before I could finally make the turn. Luckily, the marshall keeps track of lost time to be removed from the finish time, but it killed my momentum.
Turning into a killer headwind certainly didn’t help either! It was insane. Speed dropped a ton but I just focused on pushing as hard as I could. On the way back, I managed to catch and pass 3 riders (nobody passed me) and finished strong. I was definitely ready to be done in the last 5K and it took every ounce of will to keep going. I even puked a bit in my mouth at one point! (sorry for the TMI) I was also dying of thirst and dry-mouth but no way was I going to reach for my water bottle! I’ll have to bring my aero bottle next time (attached between aero bars so I just lean down to sip).
I crossed the line, called out my number and glanced down to see 24:XX on my computer. WHAT?! Shocked to say the least. I had no idea what speed that translated to, but I knew it was much faster than I expected to be.
I cooled down a bit, chugged water, watched the others finishing and then loaded up the bike to wait for official results.
15.0 KM (9.3 mi)
37.4 KPH (23.2 mph)
I’m so glad I went and look forward to challenging myself at future Time Trials. The course changes each week with different routes and distances so it will be hard to compare progress until we’re back to this one in a few weeks, but I know it will make me stronger and faster. I certainly wouldn’t push myself that hard out on a ride by myself.
Another thing I noticed is that my fears on my bike vanish in a “race” environment. I’m still pretty nervous on the tri bike, especially if it’s windy, going downhill and/or going fast. But yesterday I felt relaxed, confident and comfortable. I figure that the more experience I can get in this environment, the better prepared I’m going to be for my tri events.
So, Time Trial Tuesdays are definitely going to be a regular thing around here. I’ve also managed to convince a couple of friends to join as well.
Sorry, I was too nervous for pictures! Next time. 🙂
Have you pushed yourself out of your comfort zone lately?