The Haystack Mountain Time Trial was a fantastic race. I appreciate all the support the race coordinators provided, from number pick-up to course guidance and even after-race festivities. I figured I was all prepared for the race. I had a decent week of training, ate my typical meals for the few days ahead and tried to get enough sleep. The reason I love TTs is the fact that it could be the easiest race to do, but one of the most difficult to prepare for both physically and mentally.
They call it the “race of truth”. Very simple – start by yourself, no drafting, no mental games amongst co-riders; just you and your bike. You, is all you have to control. Easier said than done, right?
Not to worry though, because I was confident in my abilities over the whole course. I started out and knew there would be a few rollers. They turned out to be much more “flat” than the elevation map made them appear. I made sure I focused on my breathing. I wanted to keep a steady pace all throughout. I was turning the pedals at a familiar cadence, around 78rpm. I looked at my speedometer early on and felt I was achieving the speed I would need, right around 25mph. The halfway point seemed to come early – maybe it was because the majority of it was downhill, but I reveled in hugging the corners when I safely could. As I turned the corner to head south again I could feel a slight cross wind and after a while knew it would be favorable for the finish. There were many non-racers on the course throughout the day and it was on this leg I came across most of the “traffic” but also what felt to be the steepest grade. I past a family just before this rise and thought to myself I need to just blow by them and let them know I was a racer. So, that was the mental edge I needed for the “hill”. Shortly after making it to the last corner of the rectangular loop I looked at my speedometer again and noticed I was way short of my desirable speed. Granted it was a slightly uphill finish but I knew I would need to pick up the pace so I played with my gearing a bit and to allow that same cadence again. I saw my speed improve a bit, but I still felt l was under-paced for what I was hoping for. Not long after, I came across the only controlled intersection and thankfully had nothing to worry about with cross-traffic. Another mile down the road came an ambulance attending to what appeared as two entangled riders. I was hoping they were ok as I passed, they just appeared a bit shaken. Right after that, I happened to notice I had a non-racer “wheelsucker” for a couple minutes. It didn’t rattle me, but instead I thought I needed to keep a good pace. Yes, I was a bit frustrated that he could hang on as long as he did, but I’m not sure when he dropped off as that was definitely not my focus.
Unfortunately, the end of the race came much too quickly as I looked down and was registering well below the full mileage when I could see a group of people and a vehicle at what appeared to be the finish line. Apparently my computer glitched, and only had me at 12 1/2 miles, not the 16 I was closing in on. I was frustrated with that fact, but it turns out that I was able to keep my pace throughout the course to still be enough to finish on top.
If there is anything I would point out about TTs, it is this: make sure you prepare yourself in advance. Know your body, know what you are capable of. Eat, hydrate and sleep. It is only you and your bike. So with that said, I want to thank Chip for driving the point home about power intervals, crucial training. And mostly, I want to thank my riding teammate of 10 years, Erika, for being my support and training partner when I don’t want to get up at 4:00 before work to push myself. Without her, I’d just still be along for the ride.