New Mexico TT Championship
May 13 report
This race actually took place April 22nd, the weekend after Willamette. I wrote this for another reason and have decided to send it out to you all. Now you know I am still alive. I didn't do the hilly Tour of Gila, right in my home state of NM. Instead, I stayed in Albuquerque and trained for the flat National Championships on May 18th and 20th.
This past Saturday, in Albuquerque, ACA (American Cycling Association, an alternative to USCF) put on the New Mexico State 40K Time Trial Championships. These State Championships were early this year. I was happy to have the opportunity to remind myself what a 40K TT felt like before I did the 40K TT National Championship next month. For the first time in a long while, the course wasn't out at the flat Moriarty course, where the Record Challenge is held every fall. Instead, we raced at Double Eagle, where the early season TT series, took place. Once past the usual halfway, turn-around spot, we continued on and on, down the hill to the housing development, around the cone, then back up the hill to the rollers home. Even on normal days the shorter course is hard. (I did one of the 15K TTs a few weeks ago.) The road, like most NM roads is rough. The terrain is rolling and grinding. The location is high on an Albuquerque mesa - prime target for winds.
The morning of the TT, my husband and I drove to the site, commenting on the stillness of the air. However, as soon as we got to the mesa, all winds from a thousand miles swirled around at the start line. A plastic bag tied to the antennae of a friend's van stuck straight out, filled with air, causing great concern among the riders. The wind became so strong I questioned getting into my areobars. A few of the riders who went off early (8AM) got a slight break in the wind. The bag sank down the antennae, drooped on the side of the car, giving us a bit of hope for 15 minutes, after which, the wind started up again full force. Having registered the night before, I had a late start time. I warmed up on a trainer right next to the wind vane bag, seeing exactly what was happening on the road. Close to my start time I pulled up my skinsuit, drank more, put on shoe covers, a TT helmet, and headed out to the start line. Unbelievable! The dust whistled across the road. I truly feared finding myself doing the same. I practiced being in the aerobars, not liking it much. Seeing the start was into the wind, I clicked my chain up a cog, hoping I could spin the start rather than have to muscle the bike from the get go.
I've never ridden a TT in so much wind. It was an adventure more than anything else. The wind was always a crosswind except for the slight downhill to the turn-around spot. There, it was a tailwind taking me up to 50 miles per hour and a headwind back up that same hill, forcing me to use my little ring and a very large cog in the back. Throughout the race, staying on the road required tons of effort, straining my forearms against the elbow pads. The only rider able to tilt the bike to the side, using the disc wheel as a sail, was Kent Bostick. He is quite a large and powerful man. (He used the big ring up the hill after the turn-around.) On the other end of the spectrum, a 100-pound friend of mine sailed off into the dirt after a particularly strong gust hit her. Kent ended up with the best time - under 53 minutes. Clay Mosely turned the second best time - around 54 minutes. There were two riders at 55 minutes something. I finished just over 58 minutes -- respectable and fast enough for the State title.
I learned a few things about time trialing in the extreme wind. Knowing where the wind is can be crucial. Much of this is for peace of mind. "I don't stink, it's just that the wind is heading right towards me." In a curvy course, knowing the wind direction can prepare you for what you will hit around the next bend. It can also help you push forward to where the wind will hit you from a different, and perhaps, a more favorable direction.
Everyone I spoke to had really low heart rates. This could be because we
were pushing big gears in the wind, therefore, keeping the heart rate low.
During the race, keep from getting discouraged with discouraging heart rate
And finally, pedaling efficiency and smoothness is key. With so much wind
blowing the bike around, maintaining a smooth pedal stroke requires
concentration and focus - worth the effort because any sloppiness will show
up as lost speed.