Not that you probably noticed or even cared for that matter but I haven't posted since back in September. Road season started in late February and didn't end until Masters Road Nationals in Bend, OR in early September. I left Bend and two days later I rolled to the start line for my first race of the cross season which just happened to be StarCrossed. After finishing right in the middle of a super large field I realized I was not as excited about racing as I usually am. I kept showing up but it was clear I was just going through the motions. After flatting on both my main and pit bike at the State Championships I decided to call it quits for the year. Racing was no longer fun and I needed a break. I took some time off and limited most of my riding to my commute. Sometime after the holidays I started training hard to get ready for the 2014 road season. I started having fun again and......Oh Shit! March 1st is next week. Where's my TT bike?
So.....here we are, another start to another Washington Road Racing season. I should have been psyched but for some reason I wasn't. Was it the fact that I won my field in this race last year and felt pressure to repeat? Was it that this year I noticed that our field was stacked with guys that do well riding bikes really fast in a straight line? I'm not sure but during the week leading up to the race I was looking for any excuse to skip out. I found it hard to get psyched for a 20+ minute race......20 minutes of lung crushing, leg burning, mouth drooling fun!
The day came and I ran out of excuses on why I shouldn't race but I soon found myself heading out to the race. It looked like the weather might hold and it wasn't as cold as the "weather people" said it would be. Then, right as I took the exit off hwy. 167 it started to rain pretty hard. I still had 1 1/2 hours until my start so I was hoping...... It had stopped by the time I arrived. I spotted a spot to park right behind my buddy Jeff (Starbucks) who by the way who was on the bike with me....literally, the last time I'd raced a TT. We had raced to a 2nd place finish at Masters Road Nationals on a Tandem. This time though, Jeff was taking off thirty seconds behind me. He finally had his own TT bike and had been putting in a lot of time getting it dialed in during the off season. I would rather be on a tandem with him than racing against him. It's funny but we are both super competitive and pretty even when it comes to time trialing all I could think about while we warmed up was, "I hope Jeff doesn't catch me!"
I checked my Garmin and it was time to get off the trainer and get the bike on the road for a couple of fast starts and to just make sure everything was good. It was chilly so I wanted to time my trip to the start line at just the right moment so I wouldn't cool down. I pulled in just as my 30 second guy was getting his 10 second count down....Perfect!
My teammate Alex was supposed to be taking off one minute behind me but he asked for an earlier start time so he could get back to town for family stuff. He was able to tell me the course conditions and it looked like we would be flying on the way out and hit in the face with a fairly strong head wind on the way back.
Off I went. "Please don't let Jeff catch me! Please don't let Jeff catch me!" Before I knew I was cruising at 32 mph. I never know how to dose my efforts. I had more to give but I knew it was going to be brutal on the way back so I didn't up my effort. I kept it pretty consistent and before I knew it I was in a groove and totally focused. Before I knew it I saw the turn-a-round sign and the only thing I could think of was Jeff and I hitting the deck during the turn-a-round at Nats. Shit! I slowed and sat up WAY too soon! I thought about hitting that gas again but it wasn't going to happen. It was probably the worst setup for a turn I've ever taken in a TT. Oh well, no time to dwell. I quickly ramped back up and got aero just in time to see Jeff approaching. I wasn't sure but it looked like he had at least picked up a few seconds on me. Maybe holding off a little on the way out would help.
During the next couple of miles things were going good.....if you can call it that! No longer was I cruising at 32 to 33 mph. I was now hovering between 25-26 mph and was having to deal with a lot of slower riders and car traffic. I had to change my pace a couple of times after cars flew by me only to have to slow up for a rider in front of me. For a country road it sure gets a lot of traffic. Oh....and now I was finally starting to feel like shit. It took about 7 1/2 miles but yeah, puking and blacking out didn't seem far from reality. Two f'ing miles to go. That's not bad, right.... Not if you are going 60 in a car. Going as hard as my old body will let me was not going to get me there in two minutes. I tried to keep a steady pace but my mph was starting to drop slightly. I shifted gears and spun a high cadence for a few pedal strokes then got on it again. Where the hell is that 1K marker. I reached it and for some reason that gave me zero motivation. I tried to hold everything together but I was starting to hope I would get a flat. Come on, you have .6 miles to go. HTFU and finish this thing. I looked up and saw my buddy Denny just up the road. I set myself a goal to catch him by the finish. It was all I could do to keep going. I pushed hard and passed him just as we crossed the line. I forgot to stop my Garmin (I had to focus all my attention to make it through the intersection and avoid all the peds., cyclist and cars that seemed to be everywhere. I felt like I left it out there but didn't have a solid idea of my time. Hey, Jeff didn't catch me. As I turned around I saw Jeff's wife Kirsten and I told her I think Jeff may have beat me. She said there was about a 30 second gap between us so it was going to be close.
They didn't post our time right away and I was getting cold so I decided to hit the road as it was starting to hail. Thank goodness it held off for us. I soon found out I finished with a time of 22.42. It was about 45 seconds slower than last year but most people I talked to....most....had similar results. It was good enough for 6th place...seven seconds behind Jeff. I was happy with my I guess that shows we were compatible mates for the tandem, huh? I was happy with my first TT of the year. Now on to some real racing!