Monday, June 30, 2008

2008 Masters TT Nats.

Whoa, what a story to tell. I had a boring 6 hour drive home to think about it and think about it so theres a lot of info rolling around in my mind.

Sunday was travel day and I showed up to a windswept course, but mostly sunny skies and mid 80 temps. I rolled out 9 miles and back then put on my disc because the side winds at the top of the course were pretty strong. NO problems. The wind was brisk blowing north west.

The course ran south then north wandering a bit side to side, but no corners. The course gently rolled along a wall of dense trees on the west side and open fields on the east side for the first 6miles. Then up to a flat section where the wind was the strongest. The course concluded by winding back into the shaded area up, up to a short flat then a very tight turnaround on a narrow 2 lane road and back past the start finish to the Casino. The whole course was narrow country lanes. A very great course except for car traffic.

The warm-up ride had me pretty certain that I should take off up the uphill start easy, start going hard at the intersection of 211 and 111 (3miles) the bury it the rest of the ride. I guesstimated it would be a 27 ave speed to the turnaround and well above 28 all the way home. Perfect!!

Monday I woke up to 60 degree temps and darker skies. Warm-up went great and I felt awesome. Before my 8:51 start the 30-34 and 35-39 had mostly at least started and maybe a 1/3rd of the 40-44 age group (mine). The sun even peaked once leading me to put on suntan lotion. But wouldnt you know it at 8:48 when I got in line to start out of the start trailer it started to drizzle then harder and harder.

It was cool FINALLY starting in a start house with the automatic bloop, bloop, bloop, bloop, BLEEE. I felt so Pro baby!! I took off easy using my States strategy of a 5 minute easy then start to go really hard. The rain was hideen from me under the trees and even with the easy start, a strong tailwind had me cover the first 3 miles in a rocket fast 6:10 at 28.9mph and I was still below threshold on the HR!!

I also got balked by a semi because i caught my 30 sec guy in less than a mile. The truck had to pick a passing spot very carefully due to the cars and riders coming my way. I lost 6mph for about 43 seconds!! Once by a I resumed the pace and the rain got harder. My HR was perfect threshold and the race was becoming a dream come true!!

I got to the turnaround in about 25 minutes and change leaving a quick estimation of a fast 50 minute run if the return was anywhere as fast as yesterday. I had obliterated my first split from States and I had plenty left in the tank I thought as I had gone less then all out on the out, but still flying.

But of course with such a tailwind it was probably going to be a bit slower return so as I sprinted away from the turnaround feeling tired, but damn good I came down the roller I had just climbed at only about 26mph. I had just climbed it at 25mph. Clearly the wind was pretty strong blowing the opposite way.

I kept pushing and pushing and pushing and was watching the steam from a factory's stack blowing at about a 45 degree angle right at me. The 3 mile flat section where I had gone south at an average of 28.9mph I struggled mightily and only averaged 25.2 on the way home. At this point I had covered about 17 miles and although I did not feel that much pain, I didnt feel bonked, I just felt like my legs werent putting out anymore power to keep up the speed. My HR dropped a bit too which sort of verifies that. I was going all out, but dropping power.

I tried sprinting over every rise and down the rollers to gain speed and I would pick-up some and just as soon lose momentum. I did that a lot. I was in constant dialogue with myself. I was reminding myself that this was Nats, leave it all on the course, I was looking for any imperfection in pedal stroke or form and making constant adjustments. Talk, talk, talk!!

But I was soaking wet now and I dont know how windy it was for earlier starters and even later starters, but my guess is when a weather front moves in its usually accompanied by wind!! And yes it did give me a big push to the turn around, but it was extremely hard going on the way back in. I am still amazed at the low speeds that I saw that I managed to even go as fast as I did. I averaged 26.4mph on the way back, but it took nearly 2:20 minutes longer on the return. The return was also physically longer.

OK, what I am saying is that i got a raw deal on the weather this year. Others remained dry and dry roads are probably faster and wet clothes and especially soaked shoes, socks and shoe covers are a lot more weight to spin around.

So as I rolled to the 3 miles to go at 211 and 111 I was uber fatigued, but I was still positive and I was dialed in mentally like never before. I was having a GREAT TT and could only hope it was going to be a slow day for all but one or two monsters going north on 111.

I was so tired the last 3 miles that the guy I had passed who started 3 minutes before me was easily able to repass me on the downhill to the finish line in front of the Casino. I wasnt going slow mind you, but I had given it all I had so there was no finish rip.

I got the bad news a bit later after rolling back to the car that the fastest time of the day was a course record 48:34 set by Pete Canell beating 2nd in the 30-34 group by 1:17. With a time like that I knew my time (which I only could guess was at best a slow 52 or a fast 53) was way off the mark. Way more so then at States.

I was pretty devastated too to see so many in the 30-34 and 35-39 age group in the 50 and 51 minute range. Sure some of the best show up at Nats, but I figured as hard as I went and as good as I was going that a 53 might be competitive on a day like today.

Later the 40-49 age group was posted and walking up I kept my hopes alive that just maybe I had scooped a top 8 or even 5. I figured I would be a slow guy for the top 5, but whammo, I got the bad news. 15th out of 37 (the largest age group) and no one close in front of me. The next fastest guy beat me by 35 seconds. So I couldnt even blame the truck I had to wait for. 10 guys 51 minutes or faster!!

I passed a lot of guys and no one passed me. In retrospect I kind of wish one of the fast guys did pass me on the way home to give me that added motivation to chase the rabbit.

Do I blame the weather? Well only a little bit. That is time trial racing. After 6 hours of driving home in an awful salty mood I realized (and talking to Brian Batke-who btw got 5th in the 45-49 age group-Podium!!!) that racing into headwinds just isnt my bag baby. While I always maintain I can fly on a fast course (faster than other people) a head or cross wind just isnt my friend in a time trial, especially going home.

I think its a combo of my weight, muscle mass and not enough power. In other words this skinny legged Asian boy aint got enough ooomph!!! In other only slightly more technical terms my frontal area is small, but not small enough I suppose to offset the power produced by a bigger rider. Were talking leverage and mass here. Sure more time training will help, but I suppose it will always be a bit of an Achilles heal. DAMN!!! Ive read on power blogs and sites that raw power beats power to weight almost everytime in a flat land speed contest (everything else being about equal). I wont go into it, but ask if that seems odd.

Why am I faster on fast courses? Well I dont know!! But it does seem to be my strength. Now if your thinking, umm-doofus, everyones fast on a fast course. Well I pass guys at a large speed differential on the fast sections so I figure if fast sections are fast for everyone, then I shouldn't be able to pass anyone correct?

Oh-sorry to digress....So anyways, I am home with my head full of a thousand thoughts. A Chille rellano, burrito Refritos chips and cold Tecate at Don Tequilas wasnt sufficient enough food comma to put my mind at rest. I'm still buzzing, still disappointed.

The bright spots? I averaged over 28mph again for 12miles. I think the course was closer to 40k than 38k so my time of 53:12 vs 51:56 at States for 38k doesnt seem quite as bad if thats true.I might be wrong on the mileage. My Powertap does crazy stuff when in cycle computer mode. Mental note to self, call Saris this week and find out why!! This btw, digressing again explains my faster than official time at Presque Isle. I beat one of the guys who beat me at States for overall by a minute in KY. Thats cool and Kent Bostick was only 22 seconds faster than me and Thurlow Rogers who I assume raced in the sun after me fnished about 3 minutes ahead. Realistically, I dont have a Cervelo P3C or a Felt DA or 15 years of riding under my belt like these studs do, so I am trying my best to be happy about it all. 3 minutes vs Thurlow in reality is damned good-why dont I care? Sadly when I do have 15 years experience back under me I'll be in my late 50's!! Hate me-its just the way my mind works this stuff out.

Another bright spot was I was 46th out of 202 starters. That includes all the men who went the full course from 30 to 64 years of age. And 14 of those 46 were in my age group. Figures!!

So give me a few more days and I'll be happier. I was on pace at 12 miles to do a mid 50 minute 38k (40K). I believed it impossible after fighting that wind all the way home and I pedaled my ass off every single inch of that course too. Then to see so many actually do a 50 and 51 minute run, well I am sorry, but it took the wind out of my sales and it really upset me staring at the time sheets today.

What now?? Well a week or more of unstructured riding, maybe a good old fashioned road race in two weeks!! I kind of miss those. As for the TT bike, well its time to start experimenting to see if Sean Gilbert, Mike Vanucci and others can get me going in the right direction for 2009!! Louisville KY was a blast and I loved almost every minute of the Masters Nats experience. 12 months to get it all right!!


Feel It: The Factory Rider said...

Great job Ray! For smaller fields than usually, it looks like it was huge competition! 12 more months and you'll be bound for podium next season!

BTW: If you want one more TT on the list, Dad and I are headed off to Leroy TT this thursday. Hope to see you soon.

MikeV said...

Motor pace intervals with the TT bike. Making changes on the road to position and equipment. An on road wind tunnel so to speak. I know a couple people with scooters or even a hatchback so we can take video for Dartfish. 35 to 40mph paced will get some great wind drag data.

ueberdiebruecke said...

You had a great ride, considering how long you've been back + being injured earlier.

A lot of guys said they struggled with the conditions (myself included). Those that didn't ... well, I'm really impressed with those efforts.

Ray Huang said...

Thanks guys. Hey Brian, Good luck at the RR!! One more podium couldnt hurt right? OH, I also spoke to a bunch of guys about Nats and we all went about the same speed to the turn around. Between 24:45 and 25 and change. But those guys just flew back to score 50 and 51 minute runs!! Thats ok, more training. I can do that!! but i am getting good at being fast for half a 38k haha!!