Friday, April 5, 2013

Crank Cycles PIR TT #1

The Crank Cycles PIR ITT #1 was the 3 race in the Oregon TT Cup Series. I love this course since it's closed to auto traffic (taking place on an auto race track), has a lot of turns (some tight) and is more of an all out power course with perfect asphalt to race on.

The weather for the day was perfect, especially for March. We had temps in the low to mid 60's for the race with low winds out of the N/NE ... somewhere in the range of 3-5 mph.

With such good weather conditions, times would be fast on the day.

I started with my normal 40 minute warm up on my trainer and was able to get a good sweat going quickly with the warmer temps. My legs felt a little dead during the initial part of the warm up due to a bit more riding leading up to the race. I usually will take the day before a race off, or do an easy 35 - 40 mile ride the day before (taking the day off two days before the race) ... but due to the race last week and schedules getting messed up,  I ended up doing a harder day on Friday with 50 miles and some intervals, a middle length but easy day on Saturday and then racing on Sunday this week, so I wasn't really sure what to expect time wise.

My previous best time (24:34 over 11.5'ish miles) was set last year at PIR ITT #2 that took place on Memorial Day ... which gave me two more months of training and threshold work compared to last year.With a good warm up (my legs started feeling better near the end of my warm up), good weather and good early season form, I was hoping for a good time on the day.

I've been working on my position with my TT bike as well and made some changes since the first TT of the year at Jack Frost. I've lowered my aero extension/pads by 5 mm and raised my saddle by a few mm's. I lowered my extensions after seeing pictures of my position at Jack Frost where I looked just a little tall up front. My saddle height was adjusted due to leg extension and feel when it came to power and feeling.

As it stands with my position I feel overall, it's pretty well set now. I have a nice flat back, I'm forward in the position, comfortable for extended periods of time (have completed 3 hour training rides on it) and feel like I have good overall power. I may still play with my pad width a little to try and gain a few more seconds, but am unsure about that.

Once on the course I felt pretty good. I started hard and accelerated to around 32 mph down the front stretch heading into the first left hand turn. It's tighter than you think and I had to back off a little because I could feel my rear wheel loosing traction a little.

This has been a minor issue I've had with my Argon, through corners I don't feel as planted as I should be and I'm not sure why. The dimensions of the bike are very similar to my old Fuji, but it just doesn't feel as stable in tighter turns or at high speeds. The only thing I can guess is that I'm farther forward than I was on my Fuji with my position which puts a lot of weight on the front wheel, causing a bit more instability. With less weight on the rear wheel it has the ability to lose traction faster or skip around more.

With this in mind, during the race I had to make a few adjustments to my line through the first corner by taking it wider at the start and apexing it later in the turn. This allowed me to carry a little more speed and be more stable through the turn, but wasn't necessarily the fastest way around the course.

The hairpin turn on the backside of the course wasn't an issue with it's banking in the turn and a lot of room to move outward if you hit it too fast and I felt comfortable through it. The S-Turn after that was a little sketchy from time to time partly due to wind, partly due to my lack of confidence in the turns at this time and partly due to passing traffic through those turns.

Down the front straight I felt really good. With a bit of a tailwind I was able to hold a steady 30 - 31 mph down most of the straight, with good stability.

Looking at my lap times, I came out really fast through the first lap, slowed a bit over the next two laps, my 4th and 5th laps were the same time split and my last lap was closer to the first time wise. I could feel a couple places where I lost speed, such as through the first corner and down the back stretch where I seemed to enter it a gear to high and spinning too much.

In the end, I finished with an official time of 24:28 which was a PR on the course for me by 6 seconds ... but could have been better.

I placed 3rd in my class (40+ Masters Open) and had the 12th fastest time of the day out of all classes (two of those were by the same rider who rode in two different classes). So not bad, but could have been a little better. The bright spot was that I made up ground in the TT cup beating the winner of the first two ITT's (he finished 5th on the day) ... so I'm one point out of first at this time.

The next race is now two months away which will be "As the Raven Flies ... Only Longer" which will be a 40K ITT. The Estacada race that was to take place in April was canceled due to an inability of the promoter to get the needed permits for the parking area.

So I have a couple months to drop some weight and work on my FTP, especially with the longer distance of the rest of the TT's this season ... all but the hill climbs are 40K in length.

I may also make a small bike change after some wind tunnel results are posted. Flo Cycling took their wheels back to the wind tunnel and also tested several tires ... early results appear to have the Continental GP4000s as the fastest tire they tested (50 grams less drag than the Michelin Pro 3 they used in their first wind tunnel test) and was apparently faster than the Bontrager tires I'm using now. If I can lose 30-50 grams of drag, that 3-5 watts of power I gain and 15-20 seconds over a 40k ITT. They may also have slightly better traction than the Bontragers, which seem a little hard when it comes to their rubber compound ... though the Bontragers may have less Crr due to the harder compound so it may be a wash in the end ... I'll have to wait and see.

I would also like to get a FLO rear disc, but unless I get a new job sometime soon ... that won't happen for a while. Sometimes working in social services sucks due to working around grants, donations and government money. If the referrals are not there, the grants don't come in or the donations are low ... your position is cut and back to looking you go. Such is life I guess!