Elkhart Time Trials #4 and #5, 2011

One of my goals for 2011 was to try a bike time trial.  I have had very little (i.e. none) stand-alone biking experience, so I thought it would be interesting to give it a try.

There is a local 12k time trial series that has 5 events per year.  With my IM earlier in the year, I ended up being able to only fit the last two events into my schedule.  Going into the Elkhart Time Trial #4, I had low expectations as it had been months since I had done any real power work on my bike.

The course itself it relatively flat and is a down and back 12k, or about 7.4 miles.  July 14th was a warm and humid evening, with a slight headwind on the way down the course.  I decided to target 240 watts and see what I could do.  As I stood there waiting for the count down to my start, I looked down and noticed my HR was 124 bpm before I had even started pedaling.  As I took off, I tried to keep my wattage spikes under acceleration below  300 watts.  Although I was targeting 240, I found I was averaging about 260 watts in the mile and half.  I backed off a little, but then realized I was catching the person who started 30 seconds in front of me… and my competitive nature came out.  I passed them and made the turn averaging 251 watts.  On the way back I was with the wind and caught the guy who had started 1 minute in front of me.  I used up what I had left in my legs, averaging 285 watts on the second half.

Overall my data from race #4 was:
HR            167            187
PWR            267            486
CAD            95            129
SPD            23.9            31.2
Detail Link 

My official race stats were 18:36.0, which got me second place in the men’s 40-49 category.

I really enjoyed the ride, and learned a bit about my pacing.  I decided to give it another shot at the next race, which was on August 11th, 2011.  Based on the data from my first ride, I decided to target an average of 270 watts to the turn, and then use up whatever I had left in my legs for the second half of the course.   I also decided to lower my handlebars about an inch, as I didn’t have any long courses schedule the rest of the year on my bike.  Again there was a slight headwind on the way down, but it was less humid for ride #5.

My data from race #5 was:
HR            162            177
PWR            275            514
CAD            95            129
SPD            24.2            29.7
Detail Link 

My official race time was 18:16.7, with a fourth place finish in the men’s 40-49 category.  It was interesting to see that I was passed by two riders that started behind me, and I passed one that started in front of me.  Overall I had a better ride on my second try, as I managed my power output much more evenly.

My coach also asked me to warm up more for the second TT, and decided to make a workout of it by having me run two miles afterwards.  I cooled down for a few minutes after my ride with a light spin, but was surprised when I was able to run a 7:19/mi pace on relatively worn out legs.

My lessons learned from these races were:
1)    Time Trials are fun… I’m looking forward to next year!
2)    To maximize speed, you need to get your power as even as possible.  Don’t push too hard right away, but don’t save too much for the end either.
3)    With a little adrenaline in a race, I’m able to put out more power than I can in my basement doing bike testing on my CompuTrainer.
4)    Most importantly… I need to push harder on my bike in Triathlons and not worry about saving my legs as much for the run… at least for shorter distance races.

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