Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Revenge of the Disc Wheel #1

This weekend was the Revenge of the Disc Wheel, a new TT series this season (and hopefully for seasons to come). It's an 18.3 mile course in Brownsville, OR that is on many of the same roads at the State Championship Team Time Trial.

The day started out a little odd in the fact that when I was driving to the staging area there were a lot of cyclists on the road. Pulling into the staging area, there were more cyclists ... it turns out that Cycle Oregon was using a few of the roads in the area and the same staging area as a rest stop ... so we had 2000 other cyclists in the area at the same time. Thankfully they were not going the same direction on any of the roads and we only crossed paths twice.

The wind was the story of the day ... with a steady 12-15 mph wind from the north and gusts into the 20+ mph range. I didn't really think about it before heading down there, only bringing my 90mm front wheel ... which as it turns out was a bit of a mistake and one I won't make next week ... having options is always a good thing in the end.

The race started with a tail wind, which under most circumstances would be nice, but the first 3 miles were the most technical of the course with a tight "S" turn and multiple 90 degree turns. Many people had issues through here due to the higher speeds with the tail wind and overcooked corners. I about blew it through the "S" turn, but was able to pull it out somehow.

After the first 3 miles or so, we took a right hand turn into a heavy crosswind. The deep front wheel and rear disc helped with the "Sail" effect, but the bike was a handful to handle as I was getting pushed around a lot on the crosswind sections.

About a mile later we went into a long, direct headwind ... speeds dropped off dramatically. I tried to spin through this section as best as possible maintaining speeds in the 22 - 24 mph range. This was also where I caught my 1 minute man. About mid was through this section my HR dropped by about 5 bmp and stayed there until near the end of the race.

The last section of the course had a couple of little rollers, then a descent with a crosswind ... which was a lot of fun at 38 mph. The finishing stretch was again into a crosswind and a gust about knocked me over at 32 mph. It was a sudden gust that turned my bars way more than expected ... I about crapped my shorts at this point, but dropped down a gear, spun for a second or two while I regained my composure, then crossed the finish.

The wind was so strong all day, I only took one corner in my aero bars ... every other corner, even sweepers I would normally stay tucked in, I rode through in on my bull horns. When coming out of corners, it was so strong I couldn't get out of the saddle because it was blowing my front wheel around so much, so acceleration was slow.

Overall, I felt good about my performance but felt I could have gone faster on the day. My average HR was only 157 bpm, well below normal and even during warm-up I couldn't get it over 152 bpm. I think it had something to do with riding 1800 miles over the last 6 weeks, some of it racing out at PIR and other hard rides. My legs felt OK, but never full of energy ... so I was happy with my performance.

I was also really happy with my position on the bike which I've been working on for a while. I didn't move around on the saddle and kept my position through the whole race. This was also the first long TT where my hamstring/glute didn't cramp up at the end. I would like to get a little more hip angle, but I'm not sure if the aero trade off is worth it at this point ... maybe a few changes next season, but for now, I'm keeping it as is.

In the end I finished 2nd on the day in my class (40+ Masters) and had the 7th fastest time overall on the day. I was about 2 minutes slower (41:56 over 18.3 miles) than what I should be able to complete the course with calmer conditions (which I'm not sure we will see during the 3 race series).

I'm looking forward to this Saturday for another shot at the course ... hopefully with less wind and a better wheel selection.

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