Sunday, June 28, 2009

Benicia TT - Finding my groove

For the last road TT of the season, I decided to try out the new Benicia TT offered by the Taleo racing team.

I did not pre-ride the course, but had a good description from my team mate, Marsha. It was a 12 mile out and back course.

It was already at least in the 80s F at the start, if not into the 90s. I was sweating like a little piggy on the trainer, but the legs felt good as I warmed up, and I made sure I got enough effort before the start, so it didn't hurt too bad.

The start heads straight down a steep hill for about 1km. It was a little sketchy for the aero bars, so I just got up to speed and moved into the bars once I got to the bottom. There were a couple more descents in the first 3km, which didn't bode too well for the end of the race. But, the pavement was good, the road quiet, and there was a breeze that was neither head nor tail - all in all good conditions.

Since I didn't have a good grasp on the course, and it appeared to be all rolling and never completely flat, I decided to not think of it as 1st half and 2nd half, but rather a series of uphills and downhills. I would go as hard as I could without cracking on the uphills and then back off and try to recover on the downhills. It was definitely more climbing in the 2nd half than the first, so a reverse split would be hard. I got pretty close, though. I turned at 17:30ish and finished at 35:29. So, maybe about 40 seconds away from an even/reverse split. Basically, I'm riding 12 miles in the time it took me to do 10 at the beginning of the season.

I have been really pleased with my season - continually improving and taking time off my previous efforts for races. In my first TT of the season (a low-key 10 mile race), I was dead last. In my second TT, I took over 3 minutes off last year's time for a 10 mile course. The next TT was 10 miles, but hillier, and I took another 45 seconds off. I did a longer TT at almost 20 mph average, and the district championship TT at just over 21 mph average. Today, I was between 20-21, but with heat and significant terrain. But, the best thing was that I was 5th of 11. I've officially moved into the top half of the results. And, I'm getting closer to that podium each time. I'm really enjoying the TTs as they do not strike fear in my heart the way pack races do, and I can really judge my improvement objectively and not against an ever-changing group of competitors.

My last two races of the season will be pursuits on the track. And, I'm looking forward to 2010 and improving even more!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Sattley Snot Fest

Saturday, Rick and I made our first venture out to Sattley for the NorCal/Nevada district championship time trial. I have been looking forward to this race for a while, since I haven't ever done an "official" 40k race (did a couple back in triathlon days, but that is totally different). We over-nighted in Truckee, but headed out Saturday afternoon to the course to check it out. There were thunderheads looming and a brisk wind. We saw most of the course, but turned around about 3 miles from the end after having a lightening strike less than 2 miles away (we were catching up with the biggest thunderhead). The headwind on the way back was brutal and the expansion cracks in the pavement demoralizing, which left me set to really hold back on the outbound leg for Sunday. By the way, the scenery out at the course is stunningly beautiful. I'm glad we pre-rode so I could appreciate it without the tunnel vision of racing.

I had my own storm brewing in my throat/sinuses. I had the horrible allergy thing coming on Friday afternoon that I had experienced in April. But, my best attempts to get it under control before the race failed. I think as a result, I had an over consumption of spicy salsa on Saturday night at dinner (ahhhhh), which left my stomach unhappy and my sleep restless. Needless to say, I was not feeling top of my game when we rolled up on Sunday for the race. But, we had traveled so far, and I had trained so much for this race, so there was no going back. I performed my listless one hour warmup and hoped for the best. I knew most of my competition in the W4, and knew they were fast. I was just hoping to lay down a decent benchmark for the 40k and start planning for next year.

I think I did pretty well overall, and proved to myself my ability to focus and turn myself inside out - even when I did feel not well. I held back on the way out - not sure what the winds would do. They were changing quite a bit during the morning. I ended up with a slight reverse split - even with a slight headwind on the return leg, so I guess I paced pretty well. My ending time was 1:10 and change - last place in my group (barely), but just over 21 mph average. My fastest average so far this year was around 20, so it seems I am getting stronger, and perhaps better over a longer distance.

On the way home, my throaty allergies moved on fully to my sinuses. And, by yesterday, I was feeling achy and listless. So, it seems my allergies had morphed into something else (perhaps the major teardown of my body was not helpful ;) ). Anyway, I'm looking forward to feeling better soon and getting ready for next year's race. I think with a little work, I should be able to go under 1:05, which would put me right in the mix.

A huge congrats goes out to my teammates Marsha, Liz, and Soni. Liz went just under one hour, and won her division. Marsha did very well for herself and ended up 3rd in her division. They are both an inspiration for me (and very generous with their knowledge of TT and the course). Soni and her hubby Jeff defended their tandem championship with the fastest tandem time of the day! Woo hoo!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Couple'a Race Reports

I actually have been racing lately. It's been really good and really fun overall. I am having a good season this year.

Calavares TT

This was a new TT this year, and I decided to check it out, since it is so close to home. I did not pre-ride the course, but knew the general area. A teammate, Marcia, was kind enough to recon and provide some info. Basically, it was a stair-stepping out-and-back, with a little kick of .9 miles at the end of the out - about a 4-5% grade. I did the course in 31:49, which was a 45 second improvement over the same distance at Kern. Also, the hill was longer, though less steep. So, I felt good about the race. I was still a bit knackered from Kern, but felt like it was a strong race.

Dunlap TT

I've done this race, previously. However, the course was changed up from two years ago, so I didn't really know what to expect other than it would be pretty much completely flat. It is a 30km course, so a bit longer than what I've been doing most of the season so far. The course started into a cross-head wind. I think I went out a little too hard thinking I was in the head wind. Well, once I turned south, I knew I was in trouble, as I was then in the real head wind. Yikes! There were some markings on the road saying 10k to turn. I was thinking that 10k of the pain would never end. I had to try to minimize my blowing. Several riders passed me before the next turn. The next, fairly short leg, was a cross-tail wind. That was a relief, but it was hard to stay upright at times. As soon as I turned again, I knew it would be full guns a'blazing as I would pick up the tail wind. At that point, I was going 27 mph with little effort. My split at 15k was about 32:30. My split for the 2nd half was about 24 minutes - after I'd already blown and recovered. The winds were definitely howling. It reminded me of Bariani in the afternoon. Total time was 56:35-ish. My average speed was just about 19.7 mph - better than the previous two time trials. I was hoping to hit 54 minutes, but that was looking at last year's times, when the winds were definitely lighter. It was still a good race and good prep for Sattley this coming weekend.

On to Sattley!