More Spring Than I Expected

ABD John Fraser Memorial Time Trial

April 6, 2008 – Maple Park, IL

Cat 4 – 5th – 24:03.61

Sometimes it helps to race when you’re tired, cranky, and pissed off. You tend to clear your head of any expectations and just go for it. Maybe, that’s what really helped me at this race, though a “taper” week with the flu probably helped my legs a lot.

That’s my review of my performance at the John Fraser Memorial TT. I can’t believe I almost didn’t go. I had just started recovering from the flu. I felt better, but not 100%. I had a fitful sleep the night before with a mild fever and only got about 4 hours of decent sleep. Not to mention that I barely had anything to eat on Saturday. Sounds like the makings of a great race, huh?

Thank goodness for Mother Nature. After spending the afternoon on Saturday with Rose at Waterfall Glen, I was jacked that spring had finally arrived. I didn’t want to pass up an opportunity to race in this weather, because I knew how bad things could get for the next few weeks’ TTs. So, I dragged myself out of bed on Sunday morning and headed out to Maple Park. I was one of the first racers off and was happy to have a 10 AM start. The sky was clear with temperatures in the 50s with a moderate SSE wind.

ABD was able to get a full 10 mile course, which meant that this race was going to be a solid effort. No hiding here. The ABR officials got things going right on time. We had a professional start with an electronic countdown time and someone to hold each starter. It was kind of cool to have a beeping timer. It made me feel like I was in a pro-level race. OK, call me a geek, but nothing is more geeky in cycling than time trialing.

I’ve covered the JMFTT course in previous reports. It’s a straight out-and-back with no real hills, however, wind protection is minimal. This year, we had a 10-15 MPH SSE wind. This made for a predominate crosswind. You felt it on the way out and were happy to have a slight tailwind on the way back. Despite the strength of the wind, I only had about 6% difference in power between my outbound and return legs. Maybe, the wind wasn’t as much of a factor as I thought it would be.

Thanks to my illness and lack of sleep. I had no expectations. I had felt decent riding my CX bike on Saturday with my HR mostly at tempo, but I didn’t know how things would go at threshold for the TT. I decided to just go with how my body felt. Well, it must have been feeling better than I thought, because I had a surprisingly good race.

I ended up placing sixth in the Cat 4 division with an average speed of 25.7 MPH. Having been annihilated by many riders in the indoor TTs, it felt good to get some revenge outdoors…? My average power was 288 watts, which is right where my LT should be in the aero position for 1 hour. I felt solid all the way through and almost had to double-check my speed when I finished. My mind is still stuck on 30K to 40K pace from last year, so I’m hoping this performance bodes well for the rest of the year. I’m aiming for about 300 watts or 4.3 watts/kg over the 40K distance this year. Yep, it’s early in the season, but you never know.

I stuck around for awhile after I finished to enjoy the weather, chat with folks, and take some photos for my website, I was happy to see a few Maple Park residents watching the race. I’m very impressed because, while crits are spectator-friendly, TTs are a bit like watching the corn grow (which still hadn’t sprouted yet in the fields across the street).

As usual, a big thanks to ABD and the ABR officials for a well-orchestrated event. I think there’s a reason they get nearly 300 people every year for this race. Also, props to Mission Bay for helping me tweak my TT position. This was its first race debut. I’d like to credit much of my performance to training, but good aerodynamics is a big plus in TTing. Those guys know their stuff.

P.S. Thanks to Mother Nature for some great spring weather!