Dutch weather can be described in three words – Warm, Windy, and Rainy – pick any two. Last Sunday was one of those few warm days, although it was windy…quite windy 25-30kph; 17-19mph). In any case weather was cooperating for the most part for me to open my time trialing season with my first priority race.
First a lot of kudos go towards the organization; the event almost got cancelled because of some bureaucracy, however, everything worked out fine in the end!
I have already ridden the course once the previous weekend. The wind was almost completely opposite to what I experienced. It was always a coming from an angle so no course records were going to be set that day and as I discovered it presented unique challenges.
0-22min. Rhythm, Rhythm and Speed
As planned, I took off at 340W average. I know the telltale sings of overcooking it (diaphragm cramps) so I was going to ease up if I was going past my redline; you can usually tell in about 5min into the race. For a first long TT this season, it was going to take some adjusting and guesswork. As the kilometers kept ticking away I had to actually hold myself back to keep the power in check. The side tailwind was pushing me forward and I was comfortably cruising on the 54/12. I took the couple of rolling hills carefully and I was back to full speed again. It was my race! This was the pace I should hold for the rest of the course.
22-34min: Fighting the wind
As soon as I made the second big turn, the wind changed from a side tail to a full blown head cross wind. All of a sudden I had to keep the bike into a straight line, instead of getting blown off the road to the left. I tensed up my shoulders and I death gripped the aerobars. BAD IDEA! My harmonious pedaling from just seconds ago was falling apart into pieces fast. I was sliding forward on my seat and I just couldn’t get the power where i wanted it. I fought the bike…and the wind…
35-46min: Second wind
Soon, I realized that relaxing the death grip would actually help me. Unfortunately, I had already burned a lot of energy fighting the bike, rather than letting it do its job of slicing through the air. I had wasted a watt too many. The more relaxed I was the higher the watts were becoming. Relax and keep spinning.
47-57min: Running on fumes
The relentless headwind was not easing up. I was on the bottom long stretch of the course. The road ahead seemed endless and as the pavement was getting rougher, I could feel every bump painfully throughout my whole body. That last turn into the finish straight was not coming close. The painful burning in my muscles was now true suffering and cramping agony. I had to summon all my mental energy to keep the rhythm going.
The road gently arched back into the final stretch..tailwind at last. I tried to concentrate my last remaining energy for a last controlled acceleration. I could see the finish.
Whoosh and it was over. A warm painful sensation spread from my legs through my entire body.
56:37, 317W Avg; 17 out of 157 starters; 3:10 behind the winner.
Congrats to Bas Canoy on the awesome win with a time of 53:26!
I left all my energy on the road. Unfortunately (quite) some of it was spent fighting the bike rather than driving the pace forward. In time trialing every watt put in the wrong effort adds up in the end, in my case that is minus 23W. I still recorded peak 20, 30min power for 2013 though. The race power data is displayed below (click to zoom).
In any case this is my second ever 40K (25mi) TT (and the 5th time trial EVER!) and the first race with my new bike/position so with more experience results will come, my fitness is only going to improve from this point on.
A time trial bike at full speed with deep aero wheels in the crosswind is a whole another animal. Although I did put quite some hours practicing my TT position on the trainer I had only had about 5 outdoor rides before the race, and very few of them were done at race power. As soon as the head crosswind wind started buffeting me I tensed up in my shoulders and started fighting the bike and lost my smooth pedalling stroke. Just like in rowing, the more relaxed and effortless it seems the faster you are going, it is quite unnatural feeling, and like things unnatural practice and experience makes perfect. I should have held my relaxed posture at all times letting the aero equipment simply slice through the wind. As much as I don’t like training on my nice race wheels I will have to do it a couple of times in the crosswind.
Judging from the pictures, I could get my elbows much closer together for a more compact frontal profile. I was pretty good at craning my neck down and forward all the time for a very aerodynamic position (I hope someone took pictures so I can confirm that). I was desperately looking forward for the finish line at the time the above picture was taken so I was not as aero as I should have been.
Here is a nice video of the event, with yours truly appearing @ 1:54, at the start countdown.
TT season is officially open and my first milestone for 2013 is in the history books!