Tuesday, April 19, 2016

ITT on the southern connector

Last Saturday was the USA Cycling National Championships for both the Team Time Trial and the Criterium.  Both amateurs and Pros lined up for their chance at the National Championship Jersey.  With the Smoky Mountain Relay coming up this week and future half Iron triathlons, I had to make a decision on my activities for the weekend.  Unfortunately, it did not include the opportunity to watch any of the racing.

It did however, offer me the opportunity to ride the TT course.  The course was on Interstate 185 here in southern Greenville County.  The course started towards the I-385 end, at the toll plaza between Ranch Road and Log Shoals Road.  The turn-around was the exit for Brown Road, just about 10 miles down the road.

I've driven on the Southern Connector maybe twice.  There were no cars and the road is smooth.  That's all from my car experience on the toll road I can recall.  I had no recollection of how flat the course is.  Come to find out, it's rather hilly.  Not surprisingly, it was rather windy as well while we were on the course.

Friends met up with Jenny and I at the Greenville Spinners' SCTAC parking area so we could get a few miles (~12 miles each way) beyond just the 20 mile TT.  Since we were going to be riding the TT course, I felt it necessary to bring my TT bike.  I haven't ridden the Wilier since IM Chattanooga and it needed to stretch it's legs!

We arrived at the start / finish with time to greet many other friends who had also come out to ride that day.  I'm not sure how many were actually there, but it was maybe 100?  I don't really know.  There was photographers and a little drone flying overhead so it was pretty cool.

I had my GoPro Hero4 Silver edition mounted under the aero bars on my bike, so I was hoping the video would turn out well.  I did capture some on the ride over, but have edited into a small 10 minute clip just the TT.

The mass start for us regular Joe's went off at 8am.  I lined up near the front and worked my way into the front shortly after the start.  I was in front by myself for a little while, maybe a mile, when I was passed by a group of 3 going up the first roller.  Not far behind them was a 4th rider on his own.  I knew two of the four, and I know how strong they are so I just kept to my ITT plan.

The plan was to do my best to maintain a hard effort of 145 - 150 bpm for everything except the hills where I would allow 155.  I caught myself going over 155bpm a few times, but generally it was right at the crest of a roller so it was no trouble.  Going up that first hill, chasing the 4 riders, I could see that the 4th was not pulling away from me all that fast.  I knew if I could hold him in sight I could catch and overtake on the downhills.

Sure enough, as we crested the first roller, I started grabbing gears and kept pushing and reeled him right in.  I never saw him again after I passed him.  This put me 4th on the road.  I felt pretty good about that so far.  However, we were only about 2 miles into the 20 mile ITT!

Not long after, probably within mile 3, I was overtaken by another guy.  I had met him only because we rode together from SCTAC.  He was pulling strong and passed me quite handily.  I didn't think I could catch him, but he gave me a lot of motivation to keep pushing.  I didn't want to be passed again!  I was now 5th on the road.  He was always in my sight, although quite out of reach.  He'd open his gap a bit on the uphills and I'd close them down on the downhills. 

The ride out was a tail-crosswind but with the Nimble Crosswind tri-spoke wheels I have I barely felt the crosswind part of it.  I definitely felt the tail wind!  I was averaging over 20mph even with the rather long rollers we were faced with.

I still had the guy in my view at the turn-around so I just kept at it.  I had no real chance to see if anyone was behind me during the turn, so I had no idea how close anyone was.  All I could do was stay full gas!

Up the entrance ramp on the other side and into the headwind!  It was also a cross-headwind, so much fun!  Except for batting those winds, I had no other contact from any chasers and Mr # 4 was out of reach.  Full gas netted me something just under 20mph average for the ride back - pretty good considering the winds and rollers.

As I approached the finish chute, I thought I'd give it a kick so I stood up to sprint - just like the Pros!!  HA!  My legs were having none of that.  I probably looked quite funny when I stood up - the camera is rocking quite severely for a brief moment before I sat back down to finish the ride.

I crossed under the timing banner at 59 minutes and 30 seconds.  My Garmin clicked off it's 4th 5 mile interval just past the banner.   I ended up the 5th finisher which pleases me.  Considering the effort I've put into training this year so far, I'm quite happy with that result.  

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