Saturday 11 April 2009

My 2009 Racing Season Begins!

Dreadnought 2: My Latest Time Trial Weapon of Choice

Today was the Ottawa Bicycle Club’s traditional Good Friday time trial. I did not ride it last year as Good Friday was about two weeks earlier and there was an ice storm. Today we had sunny weather but a goodly amount of wind (about 20 km/h, or 12.4 mph, from the west, meaning the usual headwind on the inbound leg).

Warren MacDonald, going very, very fast
photo by Jules Gagnon

To my amazement, about 90 people showed up to register! Needless to say, this delayed everything so I got to spend a looooong time warming up--nearly two hours, in fact. We had to indicated what our expected time would be for seeding, and I felt pretty ambitious and went for 24:00. Somebody later told me that everyone was adding at least two minutes to their best times from last season to compensate for the cold (and believe me, it was COLD at 5C (41F), which was closer to 1C/33F with the windchill!), the wind and the fact that it is so early in the season. And that is how I found myself as Rider 49A, with 77 riders ahead of me, and positioned with the scary-fast guys at the back. I figured that I was going to get shelled by the Serious Racers blasting past. One of the participants was the Canadian 15 km record-holder, Warren MacDonald, on his brand new Specialized Transition.

Outward Bound, and looking pretty bundled up for a race
photo by Gilles

As this was my first time at speed, or even on the road, with the new
Leader, I was hoping to really test my position on the new frame and not worry too much about getting overtaken. Actually, I was more concerned about cramping as my workouts have fallen to zero since I returned from North Carolina, much to my extreme annoyance. The drive back was pretty tiring, work has been dumped on me in greater quantities than ever and my wife kindly gave me her cold, but in a milder version that I have fought off. We actually had two days of snow when I came back, which kind of killed my holiday mood.

Riding with my Race Face
photo by Gilles

Anyway, I had a very fast start on the time trial since the smaller frame seems to let me accelerate very quickly. My heart rate hit 174 bpm and I was onto the bars pretty fast, with a top speed of just under 48 km/h (29.8 mph). I am definitely a lot lower and the first part of the course went pretty well although I was having some trouble keeping my breathing under control. I almost caught my 30 second man at the turnaround but then things became a lot more difficult as I hit the headwind and my legs started to ache (although thankfully there was no sign of cramping). It was getting pretty painful but I managed to actually accelerate back up to 37-38 km/h (23-23.6 mph) a few times but by the time I crossed the line (after being passed by only two other riders) I was having trouble holding a paltry 35 km/h (21.7 mph). I did not quite make the 24 minutes, hitting 24:34. Which is, in fact, about two minutes different than my best time last year.

Fighting the headwind coming back
photo by Gilles

Although I think I was beaten by the 71 year old German again, I am pretty pleased with how things went. The new frame is really good but I think I have to raise the seat up and move it back a bit as well. I was getting a sore neck and shoulders so I was not as relaxed as usual and/or I have to get used to the new frame. My legs are pretty sore now (four hours later) but given that I had only four rides outdoors before I went to North Carolina for four days of climbing, I should not be surprised. By the time May comes around my legs will be a lot better and I should get to my next goal of 40 km/h early in the season. I want to get below 22 minutes by the time summer comes.

Lookit that cable travel!

The Latest Tin Donkey: since Dreadnought 2 has finally come out of the basement and been raced for real, I thought it a good time to take some photos of the new bike, which is actually only a new frame since all the tasty parts from Dreadnought 1 were transplanted. I particularly like the way the cables go into the frame, both in the top tube and at the bottom bracket. It looks pretty evil, I think. And although it is probably faster than the old frame, Dreadnought 2 is just as stiff as the first version, particularly with 140 psi in the tires. I am excited about getting a whole lot faster this year--if my legs stop hurting, that is.

Tuesday, April 14th Update:

The Official Results for the Good Friday time trial have been posted and even with my badly-adjusted bike on the road for the first time ever I finished 4th out of 16 in my age group with 24:35, and 29th out of 99 (!) in all categories. The top rider in our group was 90 seconds ahead of me, and 9th overall. The two 70 year olds both beat me! Two of them! Well, at least I cleaned the clock of the guy who just turned 81. I could train a lot better if I was retired, I guess.

As usual, there was a bit of a gap between the first three in my group, and the fourth position (me, for the first time). The hyper-fast guy in our age group did not ride on Friday. The Canadian record holder rode the course in 19:40 (avg. 45.76 km/h) which astonishes me for a cold windy day in early April and must surely be attributed to that new Specialized Transition of his.


a) I want to beat the 70 year olds, so I need to get my time under 24 minutes pretty fast.

b) My next targets will be beating the two riders who finished directly ahead of me in my age group. I have checked their best times in 2008 compared to mine and they are within reach. Grr.


Pedalman said...

That is an impressive time for going out 'cold'. Very little road training and coming off the 'Tour de Appalachians'.
The Leader looks like a stealth bomber. The cable travel is very sweet.

Ron George said...

Yup that leader frame looks pretty dished out. I guess you can still have style with the economy class. Keep up the good effort TT'ing.

Sprocketboy said...

Thanks, guys. The new Leader is actually much nicer to ride than the previous one and shows no sign of being a budget frame in terms of its build quality and finish. I guess if you don't do any advertising, offer a single "colour" and have no celebrities to pay for you can sell frames at this price. Now that I have pretty well everything for time trialling--bike, helmet, skinsuit, disc wheel--the only weak point will be the engine, so no equipment excuses anymore...