Today was absolutely perfect for racing, especially for a time trial. The temperature was in the mid 60's, low wind and no rain. My goal today was to get under 55 minutes for the first time in a 40K ITT. My best ever time on this course, or for 40K was 55:41 two years ago. However, last year was probably a better overall effort even though my time was 20 seconds or so slower due to more wind last year.
I was the 2nd to last one off in the 40-44 group with Karsten Hagen 30 seconds behind me. I wanted to hold him off as long as possible knowing he beat me by a little over 1:30 last year, then when he passed me
(Which I knew was only a matter of time) try and pace off of him as long as I could.
One change I made this year from years past...aside from my new bars and much changed position...was to ride without a water bottle. When I have brought one in the past I've only taken 2-3 small drinks out of it and never use more than 1/4 of the bottle, so I figured why put one on the bike since it just added drag to the bike and took me out of my rhythm when I took a drink. In t
he end, I never missed it.
I got off to a fast start, passing my 30 second guy in the first 1.5 miles. However, I was actually trying to hold back a little since I always start too hard then have to slow down to recover...then settle into a rhythm. I was missing a one minute man (one rider didn't show up it seems)...so I didn't really see anybody in front of me until around mile 8, which made for a lonely/paranoid ride knowing who was behind me.
On the way out my speeds were slower than expected since the forecast had a tail wind for the out portion of the time trial...however, after about 7 miles I still hadn't been passed so I figured there was a bit of a headwind on the way out...which as it turns out was true. It wasn't much, somewhere in the 3-4 mph range so it wasn't bad at all.
Once I caught and started passing other riders in front of me I started to feel better. At the turn around point I looked back and Karsten was about 20 seconds behind me so I felt pretty good about the first leg of the course. Last year at this point I suffered for several miles and lost a lot of time after the turnaround. This year however I kept hammering along and got into a good rhythm which was great with the tailwind.
Around mile 17-18 I was finally passed. I quickly tried to match pace with him about 10 meters back with a goal of holding pace as long as possible. Then he started to slow a little and I ended up passing him...which I'm guessing he didn't like because he quickly picked it back up and passed me...then he slowed again and around I went with him quickly passing me again. This tim
e he kept the pace up and stayed in front of me but never got more than about 15 - 20 meters away from me the rest of the race.
Coming into the finish I still felt good and gave it everything I had finishing about 5 seconds back of Karsten (35 seconds total)...and I thought I had avoided my annual end of the ITT butt cramp...then it hit!!! OUCH!!! I had a tough time pedaling back to the start/finish area, but managed to get there and stretch a little. I was in pretty good pain for about an hour before the cramp subsided. For whatever reason my left glute cramps up at the end of the OBRA ITT, but doesn't during any other long ITT effort. Why I'm not sure, but it's always there...and it hurts for several days after.
In the end I did meet my main goal of beating 55 minutes. My official time was 54:18 (27.4 mph average) so I beat it by quite a bit and averaged over 27 mph for the second time this season, however this was for a full 40K.
I did end up 3rd in my class which was what I predicted before the race started...I just didn't expect to be 35 seconds behind Karsten and about 1:10 behind Paul Bourcier who won our class. Last year I was 1:35 or so behind Karsten and over 2 minutes behind Paul...so I made some pretty good strides overall.
Overall I posted the 10th fastest time out of all classes (40k distance) which was the first time I had broke the top 10 at the ITT Championships. Overall a good day...the cramp has subsided but now I'm sore...but it's a good kind of sore