Monday, June 15, 2009

District TT Race Report

As many of you know, my season has been geared toward TT's and specifically this past weekend of the District race. It's only been since October that I've had a dedicated TT bike and though I've come a long way, you'll find that I've still got a ways to go. Sattley proved to be an enormous learning experience on several fronts.

It's the little things that make race reports interesting to me. That being said, I took the advice of many as I prepped for the race. I spoke earlier in the week with Dave Stockwell and drew upon his 17 previous years of knowledge around District TT events to get a feel for how this race would go down. Dave's knowledge of the route was spot on!

I also worked with my coach and discussed how my body didn't react well to the taper we had been doing. Leading up to Dunlap last week I felt good, but the power numbers were way down. My belief was that it was due to be "too fresh"; I need a bit more fatigue in the legs to perform well. Being too fresh killed me a few years ago when I was a cat 5 and took a few days off leading up to the Mt. Hamilton RR. That was a bad day. But the decision was to stick with the taper plan and to see how my body responded. At worse my coach and I would walk away with a much better understanding of how I react to tapering.

One point of advice that Dave mentioned was how necessary it was to tighten every bolt on your bike before the race. The expansion cracks in the road will take a toll on equipment. More on this later...

I drove up Saturday to my brother-in-law's place in Granite Bay (near Roseville). Upon arriving I realized I forgot my water bottle. I thought about snagging a bottle cage from one of the bikes in the garage, but after a bit more thinking I realized that having the bottle probably didn't matter too much. Plus, with all the potential jarring on the bike, the bottle might fly off like it did to me on one of the Winter Series TT's.

I checked, and re-checked everything on the bike. Tightened down bolts, re-taped some loose bar tape and made sure there was no brake rub. Everything was good to go. The plan was to wake up at 4:45am, grab a bite to eat and hit the road with plenty of time to spare. I checked my alarm on the iPhone to make sure it was working properly, then set it for the early wake up. Ah, sleep...

Rolling over in the morning I realized it was getting light out. Sometimes my internal alarm clock wakes me up a few minutes before I need to get up. Today, I was very lucky. The night before after testing the alarm I had forgot to switch the alarm setting from "PM" to "AM". I woke up at 5:05AM!

Yikes, late already! Well, my HR was spiked and I probably could have ridden a pretty good 40k TT right then and there given how amped I was. Luckily the night before I had pre-packed everything and it only took me 15 minutes to get out the door and on the road.

While driving I saw that Clark had texted me 2:53AM letting me know he had just left Los Gatos. I figured he had to be in the area so I gave him a ring as I was coming up toward Auburn. Come to find out he was just about to hit the road after getting his coffee IV hit at Starbucks. No coffee necessary for me...I was doing 80+mph and already in TT mode. Clark made mention that I'd probably catch him on the road a few minutes past Auburn. Chase on!

There have been two times in my life where I've absolutely flown up Hwy 80 toward Tahoe. The first was about 8 years ago when I cut out of work early and jetted up there for a bachelor party. I had the radar detector on and was amazed how much fun the BMW V-8 could boggie up the hill. This morning was the second time.

I was flying by cars left and right. Not much traffic on the road except for a few random vehicles. Even a small red Prius that decided to flash it's lights at me while I smoked it. I was on the hunt for Clark and his Land Rover. About twenty minutes up the road I thought to myself that Clark must really be pushing that Land Rover hard. But then again, Clark wouldn't do that as he's got a different car in the garage for just that purpose. Then I remembered that Prius that flashed me. It was Clark! Later in the day we got a good laugh out of the situation...

Making it to Sattley in record time, I realized I had almost two hours before my start time. Just what I like. In prepping for the race I had changed my PT CPU to read out KM's instead of miles. I wanted to easily break out the race into quarters. The strategy was to go out in the first 5k and just get up to speed, then ramp it up from there.

The sun had come out and there was only a slight hint of wind. Perfect conditions! As I warmed up on the trainer I could feel the effects of the altitude. My HR didn't want to get above 170 without a huge anaerobic effort and my power was down about 30 watts. I knew this was going to be the case going into the race so it wasn't a surprise.

The last bike adjustment I made was to take off the water bottle holder and tape down the PT wires. With the lack of wind the 1080 front wheel was the perfect choice. I ran about 120psi in both wheels to lessen the effects of the poor pavement (rumor has it that the course will be repaved soon...that will make it even faster). With Clark's help to get my number on I was ready to go.

Jonathan Sinclair was my 30 second rabbit. I told him my strategy for not starting too hard; he was going to give me a thorough yelling if I passed him too soon on the course. With my watts being impacted from the altitude, I figured I'd start out at 300 watts for the first 5k, then ramp it up to 315 there after and try for more in the last 10k.

I start out and the cracks in the road weren't that bad. Sure, they were annoying, but I had mentally prepared myself for much worse. Things were going to plan until about 7k into the race I realize that my CPU on the aerobars seemed a little too far away from my face. Then I noticed that the aerobars had slowly dropped down toward the front tire as I had been jarred over all the cracks in the road. Not the position you want to be in, so I did the only thing I could think of in that situation. I gave a nice hard yank on the aerobars to bring them back up into position. That worked, but over the course of the race I'd have to do this about every 5k due to the slippage.

I passed Jonathan around the 9k mark and felt good. As I entered the short little forested area and hit the slight rise in the road my power went up and I thought it might be sustainable as the road hit the false flat. However, this wasn't to be the case. For some reason my body didn't want to do any more than 315 watts. I kept on the gas. During this time my legs would alternate between feeling good and bad. Weird, but it was like somebody was turning them on and off like a light bulb.

At the 19k mark Michael Buckley of Morgan Stanley passed me. He's a super strong TT and I was able to up the power a bit and stick 30 yards behind him for a while. I made the turn and Michael put down some serious power and slowly pulled away.

Nothing spectacular happened between the 20k and 30k mark. The wind didn't seem to be of any specific assistance or hindrance, so I just tucked my head down as low as I could and tried to find speed.

With 10k to go I ramped things up to around 325 watts and my world really began to hurt. This was uncommon territory for me as Dunlap was 10k shorter and this was a new area of the pain cave for me. And to make it more painful, the cracks in the road were back (they're most prominent in the first 10k and last 10k of this course). At this point it felt like I was a WWII pilot trying to land a battered P-51 Mustang onto an aircraft carrier (imagine flying at high speed and parts of the plane coming off or getting loose...). The aerobars were acting up and now it felt like my saddle was starting to get loose (post-race inspection showed that it wasn't loose, it was just that my hamstrings and glutes had gone to gel).

Over the last 5k I put down around 335 watts and crossed the line completely gassed. I finished at 54:36.7! I felt much better about my pacing compared to Dunlap. I viewed that as a small personal victory. I kept riding and spent the next 25 minutes cooling down and actually taking in the spectacular scenery.

After reviewing the results I came in 6th. 1.8 seconds out of 5th place which was my goal. I was a bit disappointed that I didn't get a top five placing, but I came away from the race with a ton of personal knowledge on what I need to improve going forward. Innes won with a time of 51:32.3; pretty impressive as he won by over thirty seconds.

On the way home I treated myself to In'n'Out burgers and a milkshake. Gotta love that!


phipps said...

Good job Todd and nice report! Makes me want to go up there and do it next year, but only if I can convince Lyman to race P/1/2 so I might at least have a chance to get on the 40-44 podium.

CyclistRick said...

You were lucky that you did not try driving I80 that fast on Saturday; CHP was out there in force.

And the cracks on the road are in Sierra Co.; you lose them northbound as soon as you cross into Plumas Co., get them back southbound as soon as you cross back into Sierra Co. Since each county maintains its own section I would not hold my breath for a complete repave of the course in any one year.

Manley Man said...

Lyman threw down an incredible time. Pretty much everybody that was viewing the results were in awe. Lots of folks were commenting out loud that Lyman crushed Mach...little did they know that Paul was standing behind them!

Rick, as for the cracks, you're right about the county line. I noticed that myself on the return leg. Hopefully Sierra County keeps their road budget in tack and improves this stretch of road. The Plumas section is much nicer.