Written by Theo Goguely
Time Trials are often called the race of truth, usually for good reason as there isn't a peloton, teammates, or luck to hide behind and affect the outcome. It's you and your bike against the clock, and the fastest person wins. Pretty simple really.
When planning for this event, Team Mikes Bikes Development had decided to go all-in on the TTT category as we had a core group of strong TT riders who happened to both all live relatively close to each other, and were committed to putting in the hours to make us efficient against the clock. The difference between pushing the wind out front and recovery in the draft is magnified at high speed, and slotting back in a couple inches from your teammate while staying in the TT position is a skill we had to learn in order to be efficient. Several early-morning and post-work training sessions later, we were a pretty darn well oiled machine and stoked to go out and crush this TT course. However, 2 weeks before race-day, we hear the news that the TTT event will only be a 2-man competition, throwing a wrench in all our training. Instead of an intense interval session on the TT bike, my race was now going to be a long steady-state push. Time to adjust.
With the course promising to be flat like a pancake, race times (and results) were going to be a direct correlation to the power pushed out on the pedals, and how slippery people could get against the wind. While I may not have the biggest TT engine, I've spent enough time optimizing and adapting my position, and paying attention to all the small details to ensure no stone was left unturned and I would go as fast as I could. Shit, I even shaved my legs for this race!
With my brother Emile racing in the Elite field, I decided to try my hand in the Masters 35-39 to see where I would stand against more "reasonable" competition. With few people signing up in my category, I figured I had a decent shot at this, so prepared to put it all out there in what would be my last TT before hanging up the race wheels. After a relaxing week of tapering and a good warmup that morning, I rode out to the course and it was beautiful. With great pavement and straight as an arrow, there was nothing to this course other than to put your head down (literally) and go. With a slight breeze on the way out and fast speeds on the way back, I knew I had to maximize my aero advantage during the entirety of the course to ensure I went as fast as possible. Power was on target on the way out, and I was staying hydrated thanks to the bladder in my Specialized Shiv. Flashbacks to all those TT trainer sessions over the winter where it was just about turning the pedals over and doing the work kept me going as the miles ticked down. I caught several of the Masters 30-34 riders in front of me on my way out (I was the first 35-39 rider to go out), and picked off a few more on the way back. I knew my time was going to be decent and was happy that I was pushing as hard as I could. After crossing the line, I hit the LAP button and started to clock to see how my competition would fare. The first minute goes by without any sign of my minute man, same thing for the second minute. With only 4 riders in my category, I start to have hope but see my 3-minute man close in as my timer goes past the 2:30 mark. How far is he? How fast is he moving? It's so hard to estimate those things on a flat featureless piece of road, that all I can do look a the clock and wait for him to go by the finish tape. He finally comes through roughly 2:45 after me, and all I can say is Damn, that was close...
Losing by 13s over a 40 minute Time Trial (0.5%) stings, and I'm not going to pretend I'm not disappointed and bummed out after all that was invested. But at the end of the day, I did everything in my power to go as fast as I could, and it just wasn't fast enough. No "if"s to think or worry about, or excuses to hide behind. I lost to a Cat1 TT specialist who had gone 1min faster than me at the Chico TT, which was half the length of this one, so all and all, this was a good performance from my part.
Close…. but no cigar (or jersey in this case).....