I always wondered, how can you RIDE a time trial bike, let alone be comfortable? Who needs 55 tooth chairings? On September 1, 2012 I had my answer.
After a somewhat long(ish) mid-season break, I was back on the saddle for one last race – The 2012 Dutch Amateur Championships. From what I hear, it is a busy place where everybody without a PRO contract can compete for the coveted national champion jersey.
For me it was a fun way to officially close my 2012 season. As a side note for a final race, every little detail had clicked into place. My team skinsuit arrived a couple of weeks ago, I was looking PRO from head to toes.
Three weeks of inactivity certainly helped me clear my head, however, my form was a shadow of my May-June condition. Nonetheless in about 4 weeks I managed to rebuild a good deal of fitness. I spent quite some hours on the TT bike, which certainly paid off big time. The course was pretty straighforward, following the coastline of Texel. Wind was going to be a major factor.
Of course mother nature did not disappoint, sunny, mellow temperatures and strong southeast wind. So the opening leg would be fast and the last part would involve a lot of teeth gritting, lactic acid burn and willpower. Bring it on!
After a good 40min warmup I lined up and in no time I was flying down the course. Not too hard, not too hard, hold it at 300W. My legs felt amazing, spinning smoothly. Shift after shift I realized I was running 53/11!!!, I had no higher gears and I was close to spinning out. My body felt like I was born in the TT position. I could squeeze every drop of energy to make me go faster. All I remember of the first leg is the blurry stones of the asphalt in front of me and the rush of wind. Thankfully the turnaround was on a slight “hill” so I had to look up, otherwise I would have gone full speed into the fences. On the way back, as the course arched gently back to the coastline the wind direction was becoming more head on. The lactic acid burn was also starting. Everything was feeling in slow motion, compared to the blur of the first 20km. After what seemed forever, I could see the finish. The more I tried to push, the more the wind held me back. I crossed the line in the blur of booming loudspeakers, howling wind and the cheering crowds. 41minutes, 31 seconds and 299W average. By the time I packed everything I was still hovering in the top 10, later I found out I had slipped to 16th place out of 57 starters in the 19-39yrs category, 3:58 behind the winner. Not bad at all.
Although a ‘fun’ race, a lot of things really clicked into place. First, once completely unimaginable, I felt so comfortable on the bike I could have ridden into the aggressive aero position for days. I guess it is a matter of time and just putting the hours on the TT bike. Every small detail concerning my equipment and position was spot on. Huge thanks to Ronald Timmer for taking the amazing photos.
Second, I really nailed the recovery before the race. I made the most of my remaining mid-season fitness. My legs felt supercharged and not until halfway I would start to feel tired.
For the longest time I have been wondering, what kind of superhuman would be able to spin a 55-56 tooth chainring. With my measly 300W I was starting to run out of gears at 53/11. If this race was 2months earlier I would have needed a 56 big ring. Even without the significant tailwind a power output in the range of 350-400W would require such a heavy gearing. That being said the last 2km I did on pure willpower instead of on the 53/14 Eddy Merckx style. Ideally I should have pushed much harder into the headwind. The four weeks of preparation could only give me so much fitness. Also after reviewing the photos, I can definitely get my elbows closer together for a narrower position – something to improve on into the future.
This race officially concluded my 2012 cycling season. Thanks for reading and stay tuned for a full season recap!