Saturday, 15 August 2009

Time Trials? Guily

Driving back from Closeburn today, I found my mind wandering back to September 1982 and a game of hockey I played.

It was the State League Grand Final and my club Kew, was up against Yarra Valley for the title.

A game of hockey goes for 70 minutes and at the end of time, scores were level meaning extra time was called for to achieve a result.

After several periods of extra time for a combined game total of 105 minutes, scores were still level and a stroke off was required. (Hockey's version of a soccer's penalty shoot out)

After the mandatory best of five strokes it was 3 all and we moved to sudden death. The deadlock was finally broken at 17 to 16 and unfortunately we lost.

I am a midfield player and played all but about 7 minutes of the final. I also took 5 of the strokes, (successfully). This day represented what I have always considered my toughest physical sporting challenge.

However, today, I have matched if not exceeded this day in 1982.
Today was the Hamilton Pine Rivers Wheelers Time Trail Club Championships, and my first ever time trial. May as well have a go I thought. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Time Trials are tough. It is a test of a cyclist against the clock with lowest time winning.

Sure, you go as hard or as easy as you want. What you do on the road impacts no one else other than you. It is unlike any other cycling event.

I do not have any time trial equipment. I have no fancy aerodynamic wheels, bars, helmet or clothing. I just have me and my old bike.

I also had a plan.

The TT course is an out and back layout totalling 33.5 kilometres. It is conducted on dead, largely rough roads starting at Closeburn just outside Brisbane to the north.

My plan was to ride to the half way or turn around point keeping my cadence at around 95 but without spending all my matches while also being attentive to my heart rate (boring restrictions and all).

At the half way mark, I was to flick the bike computer to show average speed and then achieve incremental increases in the average speed on the way home.

And that is what I did (basically). Average speed at the turning point was 32.7 kph.

It had occurred to me on the way out there was more road going up than down i.e. in nett terms we gained elevation. We also were at times seemingly going into a head wind be it not a strong one. Therefore, the run home should make for more speed.

So things were looking good.

I progressively built my average speed up and reached a high of 35.2 kph with the last two uphill sections to go. And Bang - I suddenly just had about nothing left.

On the first of the last two rises I was out of the saddle very early and eventually dropped back to the 39 chain ring. In the saddle, out of the saddle, up a gear, down a gear, concentrate of pedal stroke, relax but it was still a struggle, suddenly.

A funny thing about average speed; it goes down way quicker than it goes up. Half way up the last rise the average was back to 33.0 kph and I flicked the computer on to distance to avoid the depression. (And then stupidly did not check the average speed until into my warm down).

My time was a few seconds over 1 hour 1 minute.

Happy? I guess. I managed third in my category however to put that in perspective, the second place getter finished in 56 minutes and some seconds so it was not at all close. (but he did have a full Time Trial rig plus helmet etc).

I also learnt a great deal.

Firstly, when training or simply out for ride, if it starts to hurt or get hard, you just back off a little. In a Time Trial you do not do this. You push through because it is a race and it hurts and keeps hurting but you feel compelled to keep pushing and keep hurting. I don't think I have ever been muscle sore straight after a race before. It felt like the next day usually feels when you go running and have done no running for ages. And it felt like this straight away and still does now.

But how do you train for this. I doubt if I have ever ridden as hard as I can for 60 minutes. Is this what needs to be done in training to prepare for time trials?

Secondly, when do you drink during a time trial? Is it on the downhill when you are going full bore in top gear, on the uphill when you are going flat to maintain reasonable momentum or on the flats when you are working at full tilt? I realised at the half way mark that I had not taken a single mouthful of liquid. I did get through most of my bottle by the end of the race but it was perhaps a case of too much, too late.

And what do you eat? I foolishly put a Gu in my pocket. Like I was going to be able to have this during the race. I also took along 6 or so glucose jelly beans and resorted to some of these on the second last rise a few kilometres from the end.

Finally, I also realised my pre race preparation was anything but ideal. I actually had some meat for dinner last night. It is not only an extremely rare event for me to have red meat, it is almost unheard of the night before a sporting event. Perhaps the three or four of glasses of red wine last night were also not ideal. And maybe a little thought could have gone into breakfast. The usual weetbix could probably have been either substituted or enhanced.

However, I am hooked. TT's are a great event and I certainly want to do more of them and want to improve.

Which bring me to another matter. Fundamentally, I just ride. It is time I put a little planning and structure around what I am doing with my cycling? I think so.

No comments: