We have had unsettled weather recently and I was worried that there would be thunderstorms but when I arrived at the parking lot it looked good, albeit humid. During the warm-up the rains did in fact show up and I got pretty wet but just kept at it anyway. By the time I was done on the trainer the rain had ended and we were getting very mild temperatures. There were about 74 riders in all, including some newbies--including one who was seeded ahead of me.
At the start, I realized there was a slight headwind, the opposite of what we invariably have, so I decided to change my game plan and push hard at the start and then use the tailwind after the turnaround. I had an excellent launch and brought up the power very smoothly, seeing some good numbers (40-42 km/h) on the computer. I passed my 30-second man about 4 kms into the ride and just kept churning on. My heart rate was quite steady at a surprising 168 bpm.
I passed two more cyclists and then began the climb to the turnaround, where I ran into more headwind and saw the speed fall off to around 35-37 km/h. Unfortunately, at the turnaround I could not cross over due to four cars passing and I had to slow down quite a bit. This was very irritating as I had barely passed the 11 minute mark, making this my fastest outbound ever. On the downhill I accelerated up to 49 km/h and tried to regain my concentration but on the return leg I found it hard to focus. Furthermore, the hoped-for tailwind was pretty invisible. I was starting to hurt a bit but morale was boosted when I passed several more riders and was able to accelerate again until I got to the last 2 kms, where the pavement is pretty rough.
At 800 m I felt pain in my right calf and then it cramped very badly. I had to drop down about four gears to keep going and after I crossed the finish line I had trouble pedalling back to the car for the cool-down as my muscles were seizing so badly. My final time was 23:17, which put me 8th out of 12 in my age group but quite a few of the people ahead of me were new to the race and appear to be ringers from other teams. And Hermann the German beat me by 10 seconds, so I have to do something about this. I did manage to beat the other 70+ racer, even though he too is usually faster than me.
Bad news: well, obviously, the cramping. It was still sore when I rode into work on Friday morning. The turnaround traffic was beyond my control so not much I could do about that.
Good news: I think I have become faster over the winter. Without the cramping and the long delay at the turnaround, I probably would have gained a good 30-40 seconds. This is only the first week of May, and the first serious time trial (1:15 faster than the Good Friday ride), and my time is not far off of my June/July results, although we had a wet road and high humidity. Secondly, the bike fit was better but could still be improved by moving the seat up and back a bit more. The bike felt pretty comfortable and I am getting happy with the positioning. Thirdly, the launch was nearly perfect and I reached a steady HR of 168 bpm pretty fast. The highest HR I saw was 177, and the average, including a 2 km cooldown, was 158 bpm. This suggests I was well-rested since the numbers are quite high.
Although I was quite certain I was on the way to a PB before the cramping, to feel this good so early in the season, and only in the second race with this bike, is pretty positive. I think perhaps I will ask my Coach of Cruelty to amend my training program so that I do a long interval at race speed on the return leg of the course, where I always seem to have the worst problems.
Not quite Fabian yet but I think I will get to the 40 km/h level very soon. This is one of my New Year's Resolutions--as to the others, I have met my weight loss goal of 74 kg and increased my strength training results (although those 100 push-ups still look a long way off!). And I have raced every time trial offered by the club this year!