Sometimes You Pleasantly Surprise (Or Even Shock) Yourself

2017 SCNCA State TT Championships
May 20, 2017 – Lake Los Angeles, CA
Cat 4 – 2nd – 51:49
267 watts – 26.7 MPH

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted a race report, but I’ve got a good one now! For several reasons, the past few years took a toll on my training and racing. I started to turn the corner last year, but have only really gotten back into the racing scene this year. One of my targets was the SCNCA State TT Championships. I had always wanted to do well at this race, but the best I could muster in the past was a DNF and 13th in Cat 4. I had won the IL State TT Championship years ago in my age group, but making the podium in CA would really mean something considering the caliber of riders out here (sorry, IL…the weather does make a difference in attracting top talent). Last year, I put a checkmark on my calendar for this race.

In the past, I usually followed some sort of training plan for a target race. I took a different approach this time, and just cycled through regular training blocks. The big difference was the amount of time I put in on the TT bike. In the past, I might ride it during a race, but rarely in training. I usually got 25-50 miles a week in on my TT bike this year. This was especially importance, since I made changes to my aerobars and position. Putting time in the saddle with a configuration made a huge difference in my power output and getting my muscles used to a certain positions. Here’s a photo of my bike the day before the race, and quick description of my setup (it’s not the best photo, but this is what I raced on)…

  • Cervelo NP2 frameset
  • Quarq Elsa RS power meter crankset w/SRAM 53/39 chainrings
  • Shimano Ultegra 6870 Di2 11-speed drivetrain (with a few different parts thrown in)
  • TriRig Omega Brakes
  • HED Stinger Disc/Stinger 9 w/Vittoria Corsa Speed tubular tires
  • Zipp Vuka Stealth aerobars
  • Selle San Marco Aspide TT saddle
  • Speedplay Zero pedals
  • Zipp Vuka BTA mount w/XLab Gorilla cage

Now, onto the race! I drove up the day before to recon the course, since it had been a few years. The road conditions were crappy as usual, but it was good to familiarize myself with the corners. The big question mark was going to be the heat. It was cooler on Friday, but was supposed to get into the 90s on race day. Thankfully, my start time was just a little past 8 AM. When I got to the starting area around 7 AM, I could already feel the sun starting to beat down. The course is at about 3000 feet, so the already strong SoCal sun was even stronger than sea level.

I got plenty of time in for my warm-up, since I had my equipment pretty much ready to go. Ironically, one new trick I tried for my race day prep was to pin an old number on my skin suit the night before. This way I had a sense of where to pin my new number the day of the race. It worked out pretty well. I was happy they had the race clock at registration, since I saw it was 2 minutes faster than my Garmin. This allowed me to get to the start line on time (and not be late like some people).

To be honest, time trials aren’t exactly the most exciting races to report about. You start and basically go as hard as you can until the finish. I’ll comment on a few happenings during my race and how I felt. First off, I had a great start. I settled into my race pace after about 1 km. There is a slight rise just after Turn 2. As I approached the top, there was a moto ref shadowing a female rider. Behind him, was a car waiting to pass. I was going much faster than all of them and was trying to figure out how to past. As a I passed the moto on the right, he started to veer towards me to let the car pass. I yelled at the top of my lungs. I don’t know if he heard me, but thankfully changed course after coming a few inches from hitting me. Now, I know how pro riders feel in these situations.

My biggest boo-boo during the race was my water bottle. I was worried about having my bottle ejected during the race like it was during the Santiago Canyon TT. Since the Lake Los Angeles was so bumpy, I wrapped the cage with some hockey tape. Unfortunately, this was TOO secure and I had to sit up to try to yank the bottle out, drink, and shove it back in. Not the best result, but I got some much needed water and it didn’t cost me THAT much time. Still, a good lesson for the future.

As I turned into the final stretch, I had no sense to what my finish time would be or what my average power was. I just kept plowing along and trying to maintain my mental focus. I really started to hurt the last few kilometers. As I got closer to the finish I knew, I could probably get my goal of 53 minutes. When I saw the finish in the distance and looked at my time, I was shocked. I had a chance to break 52 minutes, which would be a great time. I turned on the gas and finished pretty much spent. As I looked down at my time (51:49), I knew I might have won Cat 4. I wouldn’t know until the results were posted (I knew there were some faster guys in my category.) This knowledge made the ride back to the start much more enjoyable…😀

I changed into my street clothes, chatted with other riders, and waited for the results to be posted. When they finally were, I was pleasantly surprised (and a little shocked). I got second in Cat 4. I would have loved to have won, but was very happy with my performance. I was far enough out of first that I knew my mistakes on the course didn’t cost me the win. What shocked me was my time would have been second in Cat 3 and third in Masters 40-44. Ironically, I didn’t enter Masters 40-44, since I saw it was pretty much all Cat 1/2s. I also found out later that I had set a new PR for this distance. This made me feel really good about my race.

OK, now on to the post-race power analysis. My average power for the race 267 watts. Not too shabby. The ideal power output for me would have been 280 watts for this distance, but I’m still happy with my effort. I had my strongest efforts at the start and finish, which is where they are supposed to be. Thus, I would say my overall pacing was excellent, but I need to work on maintaining a higher average wattage throughout the course of the race. The all important Strava summary…

Here are a few photos from the race. I missed the podium call up, but got someone to take a picture of me on it. The other photo is me during the race shot by PB Creative.

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