Thursday, August 6, 2009

Greenville Spinner's Summer Time Trial series - it's a great time!

Tonight was another installment of the Spinner's time trial series. In fact, it is the last one of the year. I rode in the July installment and had a good time - I mean I really enjoyed it, but my finish time was good. Tonight, I had a great time in both senses.

It looked like a good turnout tonight. I'm not sure exactly how many people came out, but this time the spinners added in a team time trial option. I saw at least 4 teams out there. Once again, the volunteers who put this whole thing together deserve a big THANK YOU!

Several things are different about tonight's attempt as compared to last month's attempt. First, I have lost about 8 pounds over the last several weeks. This is a good thing as I really do need to drop this extra weight if I have any chance of keeping up with Jonathan, Perry and Joey for the ride to Austin. Second, the weight loss allows me to get into a better aero position - I think this had a big effect tonight. Third, I actually did a pretty good warm up ride. Finally, I have been riding more these last few weeks - I think that has improved my strength and endurance.

After getting checked in, I started out on a warm-up ride. This is very different from last time. I know there is great value in getting warmed up, I just don't often do it properly. This time, I basically rode the course as a warm up. I learned a few things - there was a bit of wind out there tonight. I also practiced riding in a better aero position. I took it pretty easy only going hard a couple of times to get my heart rate up.

When my start time approached, I lined up and waited for the signal. From last time I had learned to start off in my big ring. I took off from the line and I think I red-lined it for a little while. I realized I went out too hot relatively quickly, so thankfully, I didn't blow myself out.

Last time I set my computer so I could see my average speed during the ride. This time, I set it so I could watch my time. I won't remember all my split times, but I do recall really feeling it as I went up the hill towards the turn-around. I made the turn and my clock was showing something between 13 and 14 minutes. If I recall, it was closer to 13 than it was to 14, but not by much. I felt this was a good sign - if I could only keep it up.

Thankfully, there seemed to be a bit of a tailwind coming out from the turn-around. It's also downhill, but I had to keep pushing myself mentally as my legs were feeling it already. I was really motivated to improve over my last time.

The hill next to the 3M plant is really not that steep, but it has an effect on my speed. I did my best to carry as much speed as I could up that rise. I felt like I had a tough time finding the right gear for that rise - one gear resulted in a lower cadence than I wanted, the next seemed too high. Finally, I settled on the lower cadence and pushed it a little to bring the cadence up.

Again, I don't recall what my split time was, but when I came past the country route turn-off I was feeling good about my time. Throughout the ride, I was in the drops in what I considered to be my best aero position, or sometimes I would keep my body in the same position, but move my hands up to the hoods. Something about this change made a mental difference - I'm not really sure why. I can't speak about the relative aerodynamic effectiveness except to say I think being down in the drops was probably a little more efficient.

I kept watching my time as I came past the Michelin plant. I knew I was going at a pace that was better than last month, but I just didn't know how much better. That means I was doing better than 22mph on average. At that speed, I was covering 1 mile in something less than 3 minutes. I was feeling really confident my finish time was going to be better than last month.

The last little uphill at the end of the runway was coming up, so I did my best to push it hard as I made the slight descent. Unfortunately, it seemed I was running into a headwind. That really made this section more difficult. Without the wind, that little hill can rob you of speed. With the wind, it's going to extract a higher toll. I tried to compensate by pushing as hard as I could. My respiration rate was pretty high, but I was concentrating hard on my body position and felt I was doing a good job of keeping my lungs at maximum capacity (instead of slouching in my position - effectively reducing the available volume of my lungs).

I crested that small hill and kept on it. I ran through the gears to keep my pedal cadence up as the ground flattened out. My speed was increasing and my heart was pounding! I looked down at my clock and I knew without a doubt I had beat last month's time. As I crossed the line, I looked at my own clock to see very close to 26 and a half minutes. I would have to wait for the official results to confirm it.

After a short cool-down, I headed back to my car and loaded up my bike. I was hoping I might be able to get my time so I could get home and get some dinner (I was starving). Luckily, they were entering times in and by the time I got over to the tent, my time was showing. My official time was 26:34 - 53 seconds faster than last month. That works out to an average speed of 22.6mph - 0.7mph faster than last month.

I'm pleased with that result. Although I didn't post up a specific time or speed goal for tonight, it was always to improve from last month. I did that by a fairly significant margin. Perhaps by next year I'll be ready to break the 26 minute mark (or better)!.


  1. Good job John! That's a good time and a good increase (or decrease). And I think the conditions were even harder tonight than last time out.
    A sub 27 min. time was my intent too, but I missed that by a mile. My unofficial time was 28:50 (my last time in July was 27:40). I'll have to wait until they post the official times to find out what mine was exactly, but I know I won't be happy.
    I started off great tonight and was flying as I neared the RR tracks. Then I noticed my heart rate monitor was at 190 BPM! I normally try to keep it at 170 and climb to 178 at the finish, but I lost track tonight. As a result I had to coast down that next long hill and I even dropped down to 12 MPH going up that next slight climb. I wanted to continue past the turn around point and just go home, but I knew I'd regret quiting even more.
    So I'm stuck with a time of 28:50 for the next 8 months. But I did learn a good lesson (one I thought I already knew), pacing yourself is pretty important!
    Again, congratulations on a good TT!

  2. Hmm, how did you feel though - I mean, if you had not been using the heart rate monitor, would you have kept pushing? That's one thing I have never done - wear a heart rate monitor. I'm afraid of what I might see.
    I too went out a little hot, but caught myself coming up out of the dip at the end of the runway.
    I really think my improved aero profile was a big factor - especially with the wind we had out there. I do feel conditions were more difficult last night compared to last month.
    Most important that we take whatever we learned last night into next year!

  3. the key to staying aero - ask a triathlete. you've got to keep everything parallel to the ground. keep your pedals level, knees as close to the frame as possible. back and forearms should be level. if that means you are more comfortable with your hands on the drops or hoods doesn't matter - just keep those forearms parallel to the ground. sometimes I even take an underhand grip on the back part of the handlebars to pull my upper body down more. it takes a lot of upper body strength to curl up in the fetal position while heading downhill at 40 mph, but it makes a huge difference.

    great time last night! congrats bro.


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