Bubble in the desert

A blog I started whilst on a GE "Bubble" assignment in Nevada. I'm back in Cambridge (UK) now but still miss the desert and my friends out there.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Genoa Time Trial - 2nd (again!) - 38:09

In my recent attempts to actually win a race this season, instead of just being at the top of the leaderboard, I did some work on my bike this week. Specifically I added aero bars (or tri bars as they are sometimes called). Pike and Jeff had urged me to try these out since they will also be useful for the half ironman event we're doing in a few weeks at santa cruz (the big kahuna).

These aero bars clamp on your handlebars and let you reach out further forward also bringing your arms closer together, all aerodynamic like. Keith at Big Daddies also told me to turn my stem upside down to make the handlebars lower too, and push my seat forward. $100 later and some extra training and I had aero bars ready for the race.

So, bike all tricked out I showed up at the race. During last minute faffing I added my new heart-rate monitor to the handlebars and put my odometer back on too.

I was pleased to see Jeff was there but he wasn't signing up early. During a time trial riders set out 30 seconds apart and the ordering used is always the order people sign up in. It seems a massive disadvantage to go first so I prefer to linger around so there are people ahead of me that I can try to catch. Jeff was adamant that he would ride behind me today. I suggested we flip for it but he said because I was leading the series I should go first. Out of respect for the race organizers I just signed up, with Jeff behind me. I was feeling pretty confident with my new aerobars and how much I liked them already - a mental and aerodynamic advantage.

We lined up and pretty soon I was moving. I was immediately using the aerobars and did so for most of the race apart from a couple of climb sections. I really moved off the line. My heart-rate was 160+ immediately and stayed like that for the whole race (Jeff's was higher for the whole race - he's 50 and I'm only 38 !).

After a while I had ridden down the club president (sorry Jenny) and a couple of other folks. After about 6 miles I came to the U-turn in the road. As I turned, Jeff was on my wheel. I uttered some expletive as he passed me. By now he had got 30 seconds on me. I was determined not to let him win so easily so I overtook him again. I couldn't make it stick though and after a few minutes he overtook me moving strongly on a climb.

As I followed him at times I would catch him a bit. He even sat right up a few times like he was cruising but even as I narrowed the gap he put his head down and got more distance on me.

I was following Rick for a while. This was extremely helpful as he was really moving. I eventually started to catch him on the 2nd to last climb. Unwilling to let go of the aerobars to change gear I powered up the climb and reeled him in. As I went past he said in jest, "that's not very nice Carl" - meaning that we both knew I'd taken over a minute out of his time. Going past him was good mentally too. I know Rick is a good rider and didn't want him overtaking me again so I moved it.

As the finish line appeared on the hill I gave it everything I had left as I saw Jeff crossing the line. I finished in 38:09 and Jeff in 37:09 - a full minute on me again.

It's hard to compare previous results because the wind is quite variable at Genoa but we've done a couple of Genoa TTs before and here's how we did (I added Mel for comparison):

April 26th
Carl 45:50 (I ran at lunchtime before this race!)
Jeff 41:54
Mel 36:37 (first place overall)

May 31st
Carl 40:55
Jeff 39:54
Mel 34:41

August 23rd
Carl 38:09
Jeff 37:09
Mel 33:55 (approx)

Well, over the course of the season I've taken 7 minutes 41 seconds off my time (though the first race was windy as you might judge by Mel's time). Since the last attempt at this I've taken 2 minutes and 46 seconds off the time.

In the first TT I was 9 minutes 13 slower than Mel; in the second, 6 minutes 14 seconds behind him; in the 3rd race 4 minutes 14 seconds. Perhaps comparing against the ever fit Mel is a more accurate way to measure my improvement over the year. Chatting with him earlier he says he's been pretty consistent over the season, so comparing against him is a pretty good measure and will account for wind differences on the day and such. Overall, this looks like a good improvement!

So, needless to say Jeff was pretty pleased to beat me and to knock 2 minutes 45 of his last time. I was disappointed not to do better but pleased that we both rode well.

Only 1 race left this season - can I win the last race?


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