State Championship Time Trials - long, painful, sweaty, hot and fast. What's not to like?
Dingo put on the race, and they did a great job as usual. For the ITT, there was a starting ramp - which is always fun to start from. Registration went quickly and smoothly, and the course was marked with a 3KM and 1KM to go signs. There was a large digital clock facing the parking lot, which is great to make sure your clock is the same as the official clock. We started at 1 minute intervals - I prefer 30sec intervals, so that there is more opportunity to pass other racers, which also gives greater motivation.
I raced the Masters 35-39 category. When registering no one had signed up for it yet, and I figured that would give me my best shot at getting the Georgia Champion jersey. Alas, the other racer who registered is the racer who has won this category for the past 4 years now I believe. I got second place - which was also last place. But I'm pretty happy to get the medal.
Which brings me to something I've often thought about. Because bike racing sometimes has few participants, racers can stack up good results or podiums simply because the field is small. So, does that diminish the result, and by how much?
I think yes, obviously winning out of a large field is more respectable and glorious than a small field, but I also think that even if there is a small field, the result is still a result. Anyone is welcome to come out and race. If they didn't for any reason (it's too hard, it's raining, it's too hot), they were beaten in a sense. The way I think about it is that, sure, I won the silver medal, but it's not as shiny of a silver medal as it could be. But it's still second place, and if anyone questions it they're welcome to come out and race me next year.
Back to the race: the course is out and back, a little bit downhill going out, a little bit uphill coming back. There weren't any actual climbs, but the road did get a touch lumpy here and there.
I didn't bring any water bottles, and did my usual TT warmup - around 30-40mins total, 20mins slow, one or two minutes at FTP, cool back down, then ride around the parking lot to make sure my legs keep moving.
I rode hard at the beginning, concentration on trying to stay as aero as possible with my shoulders and head tucked in together. At about the halfway point is when they guy behind me (the racer who always wins this category) passed me. I kept him about 10sec in front of me for the remainder of the race, but since it was clear I wouldn't be able to take back a minute on him I was a little bit mentally beaten at that point.
I began re-hydrating right away after finishing the race in order to recover for the TTT the next morning. I had a protein shake, a healthy dinner, and a couple bowls of cereal while relaxing watching TV on the couch that night.
TEAM TIME TRIAL
This was my first time doing a team time trial, and I really enjoyed it. Our team had two squads in the Cat 3/4/5 race. My squad did a training day two weeks beforehand, which was crucial for getting our order right and getting our routine down. The plan was to take 30sec pulls each, and then reevaluate at the halfway mark. Also, no matter what happened try to keep everyone together until the end. Even if someone isn't able to pull, having an extra racer in the 4 man rotation gives extra draft to the others. Also, if someone punctures or has a mechanical, it's important to have all the riders together (since it's the third person's time that is the team's time).
They start you standing in a row on the line, and we lined up in the order we were going to be riding in. At the start one of our teammates had trouble clipping in, or maybe his shoe came unclipped, so we rolled slowly until we were all together and moving. I thought that was good - get out all the jitters at the beginning, kind of like it's supposed to be lucky when it rains on your wedding day.
Then, one of our teammates cracked after about 5 minutes. Sometimes your body just doesn't have the energy, and that was the case here. Instead of taking 30sec pulls, he pulled straight through the rotation every time. It was a phenomenal effort - he dug deep and was able to stay with us until the end.
I was feeling pretty good - I think the ITT acted as openers of sorts for me. At the halfway point another teammate who was still feeling good and I upped our time on the front to 40sec pulls. When we had around 5 miles to go I was still feeling good and took a few one minute pulls. Those put me into the red, and I had to dig deep just to hold on after that point. There is a slight uphill right before the last 200m and it took everything I had to hold onto my teammate's wheels. When we crossed the line all of us had really left it all out on the course. I'm pretty proud of our efforts out there, and we worked great as a team.
We got second place, and our other squad got third. The top spot would've been nice, but I'm really proud of how well we worked together. It was actually really fun I thought! Even though road racing is definitely a team sport, this felt more like a unit working together instead of teammates trying to organize amid other teams trying to organize.