Time trial days always seem to be unnecessarily stressful. Because you’re only racing yourself, you really don’t have much to worry about. Yet, nerves seem to create a myriad of non-existent stresses, so it’s often important to focus on the small victories leading up to those few last heaving breathes you make as the clock beeps 5-4-3-2-1.

First success: we got an AWESOME parking spot. We also had Caesar to pump up our slick Specialized tires so that our 3 pairs of puny climber arms could be spared for our ~ 16 minute uphill grinds. I was certainly thankful for this, as my arms had to do a bit more work than I could have predicted (more on this in a moment).

Aria, Andrew and I were starting within 20 minutes of each other, so we could pretty much roll around together, loosen up the legs and get focused to beat ourselves to a pulp against the steep and winding gradient that makes up Glendora Mountain Road. I was sure to gulp down plenty of GU hydration drink mix before the TT.  Andrew and I even opted to remove our lightweight BikeSmart HydroCarbon bottle cages for the sake of marginal gains!

The first section of the TT is flat, so I was sure to get low and aero on my bike. My S-Works Evade helmet and Capo Skinsuit helped nicely, too. Unfortunately aerodynamic equipment doesn’t do much to prevent punctures, and about two minutes in I heard the most nightmarish sound one could hear during a time trial: Phhhwoooosshhhhhhh.

I reassured myself that I was “going to break this f*#%ing wheel” to get to the top, so I kept my power solid and tried to salvage my race, at least for another few minutes until it was totally flat. Eventually, I stopped and asked a spectator for a wheel, and in perfect timing, Andrew rounded the turn on his way back to the van. I hopped on his bike and away I went. It was in this moment that my arms were finally ready for some real work. Riding a bike that is at least one size too small means that sitting down is less than ideal, so I nearly rode the last 10 minutes of the time trial out of the saddle… OUCH! I still managed to pass my 30 second man, though I finished with a time that was far from what I felt capable of.

It is rather ironic: in 2016, I successfully made it to the top of the GMR, only to have my rear tire explode just minutes after crossing the finish line. In hindsight, that was not such a bad predicament. I guess this Hill has some strange grudge against me. Maybe I’ll have to go the the USAC Hill Climb Championships after all. At least Aria will have some company now!

Much thanks to Brian Sarno for unexpectedly capturing what superficially appears to be positive emotional expression! I assure you: this is pure suffering and anger. Not a bad look, I guess.