It is always good to go back to basics and think about your training and racing, and earlier this week I very carefully read a piece by Bruce Hendler about time trial basics here at pezcyclingnews.com. In the article he interviews two coaches about time trialling and techniques they are using to improve performance. It confirmed the approach my own Coach of Cruelty suggests but I found it helpful as well to think about working more in the time trial position and to work on my flexibility. As well, one of the coaches expressed his irritation with riders with $6000 worth of equipment who nevertheless wore gloves, had cables sticking out, and used jerseys instead of skinsuits. Although I certainly do not have expensive equipment, being the Very Cheap Time Triallist, I took the hint and wore my Louis Garneau skinsuit for the first time, having been a bit too self-conscious to wear it before. And I did not wear gloves.
We had a glorious sunny evening in Ottawa, with not too much wind and temperatures around 23C. Due to road construction, our course has been shortened to 10 kms, which makes the starting area a bit crowded as we are no longer at the nice big parking lot at the Aviation Museum, but also means that we have only smooth pavement instead of the usual 2 kms of bouncing and banging that starts and ends the 15 km course. It also means that the climb up to the St. Joseph Blvd. overpass is a greater proportion of the ride so although the smooth pavement would help I was a bit worried that my overall time would not be much better.
The other issue was that since the road is closed to traffic now we had other users to contend with: rollerbladers. They tend to use up a good part of the road and not be as aware of other traffic as they should be. My 70+ nemesis, Hermann, signed up and then decided not to race as he thought it would be too dangerous to mix it up with the bladers. I decided to try and see how things went.
My launch was faster than expected due to the smooth road and I was suddenly pushing 50 km/h and seeing a heart rate of 170 bpm within the first minute of riding. I backed off to around 40-41 km/h and tried to get comfortable but it was hard for me to establish a good rythym. I passed a few rollerbladers but they kept their lines fairly well so it was not too difficult since I had no oncoming traffic to consider. Suddenly, it seemed, I was on the climb, and rapidly backed off to let my heart rate come down. My speed dropped quickly to around 30 km/h but I soon felt comfortable raising it a bit so that I was climbing around 35-37 km/h.
The turnaround was 50 m before the usual spot and I came up to it too fast and had to brake more than I had planned, so the turn was not so great. But I had geared down properly and could attack the return part of the hill very well. There was a slight tailwind coming back and I was able to hold my speed around 42-43 km/h and even passed another rider on a small rise as he was overtaking a rollerblader.
And as suddenly as the climb had come, the finish line loomed ahead of me. There was still gas in the tank so I wound it up to cross at around 45 km/h. My feeling was that my pacing had not been very good because with 5 km less of riding I should have pushed much harder on the return and crossed feeling more tired. But for a first ride on a 10 km course it probably was okay to set a baseline to work with over the next four weeks while we still are using the short course. Plus I like to think of this as serious interval training to get me ready for the 15 kms when that happens later this summer.
The official results have come in and to my surprise I came 5th out of 15 in my age group, only 10 seconds off of the Virtual Podium, and 15th out of 62 riders overall. My time was 14:31, giving me an average of 41.3 km/h, and putting me ahead of a number of racers who are usually much faster than I am on the 15 or 40 km courses. Maybe I am a prologue specialist? Anyway, I did not feel overextended on the ride and am very much looking forward to my 40 km time trial on Sunday in Fournier.