Wednesday, February 10, 2016

A very short, very cold Race Report.

Saturday was the Taco Mama Time Trial in New Market Alabama. Not a race I had really planned on, but Jimmy offered to drive and I didn't have a good excuse NOT to get out there and give the Speed Concept a maiden race voyage. It was going to be cold and only serious TTer's were going to show up, so I figured it would be a good test of my fitness.

The week of the race did not go as I had hoped. Between building Jimmy's Speed Concept, fitting Emil (as best I could to his Transition with it's overly short seatpost) and having to re-cable the brake of my own SC, I did not get much time in the saddle. I also didn't get a test ride on the SC until Friday night at about 9p.m. and then for about 10 minutes. Good enough, right? I went over my checklist and didn't *think* I had forgot anything.

He's low due to his short seatpost, but it didn't stop him from dominating

Saturday morning it was up early for the 45 minute drive to Jimmy's house. He was having problems with his Garmin Vectors so we worked on them for a few minutes and then decided just to load up and go and try to fix it on site. We made it with plenty of time to spare and took a quick drive of the course, noting that it was a little hillier than expected. This made me a bit nervous as I hadn't tested out the 1x setup on climbs.  I was 99% sure it wouldn't be an issue, but nonetheless conjured images of walking up one of those hills.

Then it was get set up and start the warmup ritual. I got dressed and it warmed up to the point (high 30's) that I felt my long sleeve skinsuit (+ aero booties & gloves) would be more than sufficient to keep me warm. Jimmy couldn't get his Vector's fixed and was forced to race on feeling. I got in a good warmup but timed it a little off and ended up getting fairly cool before my start.

Warmup on a cold morning

Then, it was time. 10 countdown and I was off.  This year my main goal is to pace myself better than I have in the past, and so my first couple of seconds/minutes did not involve a massive sprint spike of power. I hit my target watts and settled in. Before the first turn I had caught my 30" man, and I took that corner so hot I almost overshot it into the ditch. Pfftt... who needs brakes.  The short rollers began and I hit my minute man and shortly after my 1:30 man... that felt dang good considering I was still within the first 5 miles of the race. Shortly after catching my 1:30 I start down a roller when disaster strikes! One second I'm tucked for the downhill and then all of a sudden I'm riding a bucking bronco. FLAT!!! And on the front no less! I make it up onto the bullhorns and don't panic, doing my braking with the rear I'm able to come to a fairly successful stop without rolling the front tire off the rim. Race over...bummer. Unfortunately in my preparation/rush for the event, the one thing I didn't really pay much attention to was my front tire/tubes condition. Later I would find that my tire was actually dry rotted (what I get for stocking NOS bonty aerowings.) and that had caused a small puncture in the tube.

The real annoyance was that it was preventable in so many ways. The tube was a Michelin (without a removable valve core) so I didn't have any sealant in it, which almost certainly would have prevented a flat. Checking the tire of course would have also been a good idea, but sometimes you forget things. I guess I'm now ordering 20mm Supersonics. Oh well, live and learn.

Unfortunately my story doesn't end there. I figure I have a short wait until the sweep, so I start cheering on my fellow competitors. I see Jimmy come around on his second lap and he looks to be right at the front which is exciting, but also disheartening as it let's me know there is not a SAG wagon behind the last starter of the CAT4's.  Ut oh. I do some math in my mind and figure I'm about 5 miles from the start, quite a ways to walk in socks.  Surely somebody is coming. So I wait.
And wait.
And wait.
Then I see riders coming again. The next group has started.
By now it's been well over 20 minutes. The body heat I had built up riding has faded, and I'm acutely aware that Castelli's Bodypaint skinsuit is not insulated. I chuckle, but as the overcast hides the sun and the wind picks up again, I start to get a little concerned. I'm literally shivering at this point.
I see Emil go by, the master's have started. I cheer him on meekly, as at this point I'm hunched down in the ditch on the side of the road trying to stay warm. I figure Jimmy has probably finished at this point and hopefully he'll be in mind to realize it was me on the side of the road. Otherwise, I'm going to be a freeze pop.

After another unknown amount of time, a mustang (the first car I've seen) pulls off the side of the road and I'm saved. SAG has arrived. I hunker into his car and turn the heat on full blast, teeth chattering at this point. When we make it back to the start line I thank him for saving me and find Jimmy and Mike (who was about to pull out to come save me) and more importantly the car and all those warm clothes inside.

Jimmy of course won the CAT 4's by a commanding amount.

Hard not to expect it from the state champ!

The real story of the day however was Emil, who absolutely dominated for his first TT in 12 years. He finished second with a time that would have won most of the categories (these old fella's are fast!) and that was with a too short seatpost and a slipping armrest pad.

Hard to keep a good racer down! That thermal suit though! I needed that!

So, a pretty big success all around. Sure, I'm disappointed... I know to take the time to check and re-check my stuff... I didn't and paid the price. I'd have liked to have had a measure to see where my fitness looked compared to my primary competition (Which I suppose is Jimmy hah) but I felt like I had a small hand in my friends accomplishments, so I'll be happy with that for now.

Of course, the fire has been re-kindled as well. Now I'm ready for race season. It's going to be a good one!

Thanks for reading! Next week we'll start a little tech how-to section (one I should have read before this week) so stay tuned!

- Christopher Morelock

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