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The 40km Project – Part VII

Today was my first real shot at the sub-hour 40km.  The bike was ready.  The conditions were good (sunny, not too much wind, perhaps a bit hot for my liking, but better than too cold!)  The question that remained was whether I was ready.

Yesterday was a slow easy ride on the TT bike to test out some position tweaks to the bars (wider at the forearms, and rotated slightly ‘in’ to give my thumbs a better spot to rest).  I’m sure I will continue to tweak the position, but it sure is better than the original setup!  I’m also considerably more comfortable on it than I was on Tuesday, after a few more hours riding it and getting used to how it handles.  Unfortunately, I felt terrible physically on the ride, so perhaps it wasn’t the best sign of things to come.  I had everything packed and ready for a quick getaway this morning, and was up with the alarm at 6am.

I arrived at the start (boat launch in Calabogie) and signed in before getting dressed and warmed up.  I was number 32 of 37 (I think?) on the day, so there was a very good turn-out.  This is especially true considering a few riders are in Sutton this weekend who may otherwise be TTing.

Like yesterday, I was once again feeling less than stellar during my warmup.  I had to really push hard to get the bike up to 40km/hr; not a good sign when you’re hoping to average 40 for an hour!  However, I figured that things could change quickly, so tried not to let it get to me.  I arrived at the start ready to go, and John and Bob gave me a good clean send off.

According to my very unofficial time check, I had gained ~30 seconds on my ‘minute man’ in the first 12km despite feeling fairly crappy.  I started to feel a bit better around km 13 or so, and in the next few kms I pulled in a lot of time and passed my minute man.  However, shortly after he passed me back, and stayed away for another km or so as we neared the turnaround.  I was thinking the turn around was soon, so thought it would be best to let him go through first before passing again.  I eased off just slightly to match his pace, so I wouldn’t be drafting and/or gaining on him just before the turn around.  After a couple more corners, it was evident that the turn-around wasn’t coming up just yet,  so I went by him again on a hill.  At one point, he was almost by me again, but I picked it up so he couldn’t pass.   At the turn, I was far enough ahead to not impede his turn (I am still taking the turn-arounds very slow on the TT bike!)

From the turnaround, the return leg is only 19kms, and has significantly more downhill sections, so it goes a bit quicker than the 21km first leg.  At this point, I finally started to feel fairly good, so tried to give that extra little push.  I knew from quick glances at my computer that I was not likely to break the hour mark unless I could really hammer the return leg.  I started passing some of the slower riders in front, and having the constant ‘carrot’ of the next rider always just over the next hill was a good motivator to push that little bit harder.

The last 15kms or so felt very long, with the last 3km being a complete blur. With 1km to go, I was almost completely spent, but had a rider in front to reel in to keep me motivated.

Unfortunately, but not completely unexpectedly, my time was greater than an hour.  01:01:14 was the official verdict.  Crap!  I’m not entirely unhappy, since I knew yesterday I was not feeling 100% physically, and that the bike is still new and is going to take some adjustment (both the bike itself, and my body to the new position).  However, my time was still 3:54 faster than a year ago on the same course, so there’s some noticeable improvement.  Whether that is due to the new bike, an increase in fitness, or a combination of remains to be seen.

HR Graph

Graph of HR during the TT (click image for full zize)

As you can see from the graph, I was able to keep my heart rate fairly steadily in the 171-194 bpm zone (red band in graph), which is pretty much where it should be for a TT.  My average for the 40km was 174bpm, so towards the low end.  I’d like to see this a bit higher–which will come as I get more comfortable hurting myself for a solid hour.  I believe at this point that it’s a mental wall, not a physical one, so should be ‘movable.’   (Ignore the ‘greyed out’ portions of the graph outside the vertical red lines–this is my warmup/cooldown.)

For next time, I need to do a longer warmup, getting up in to zone 3 for longer to get the body awake and moving.  It took me 12km or so to start feeling decent today, and that could easily have cost me 1:14.

August 8th is the next shot at the hour mark, and I’ll be ready :)

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