Time trials. You love them and you hate them. Thanks to the Greenville Spinners, you get the chance to love what you hate several times this summer with their annual time trials series. While riding a time trial can be something you hate, its hard not to love hanging out with the Spinners.
This Thursday was a trial just getting to the event! I had busted one of my aero wheels and Boyd Johnson let me borrow one of his while he was putting together a permanent replacement. I didn’t get a chance to put the wheel on the bike until 4:30. When I did, I discovered that the rear derailleur was doing something funky — like the chain was hanging up.
This got me out the door late and then it was time for the criterium race through traffic on Pleasantburg Drive — just as everyone was getting off work. I was starting to get a bit nervous because I needed to start early in the queue so that I could get to my son’s baseball practice to pick him up. My window for registering, warming up and getting to the line was shrinking with each delay.
After registering, I unloaded the bike and took it over to The Great Escape mechanic who was there supporting the riders. I got into my skin suit and then went to pick up my bike. A moment of panic flashed into my mind as I realized that my start time was only 15 minutes away! The mechanic was informing me that the chain was not meshing well with the cog on Boyd’s wheel. I told him to get it working the best he could on a particular gear and then I would go with that.
I went out and did my best to get my legs loose before returning to the line. However, I knew it was going to be a painful experience as my legs were complaining to me that they weren’t ready as I rolled up to the line. I figured I was just going to have to use the out portion as my warmup. If I could just hang in there, my legs should come around on the return.
There isn’t much to say about the actual attempt. I almost immediately started to feel that my legs were bricks. The battle was to fight the negative thoughts that I was just wasting my time. Still, each turn closer to the turn around lifted my spirits.
I looked down at the time and saw I was rolling toward the halfway point at around 11 minutes. In the past, I made this point in just over 10 minutes. Considering how I was feeling, that was actually a relief. The turn came and I determined I wouldn’t look at the wattage. I was just going to ride as best I could back to the finish.
My legs did lose that “brick” feeling. However, now they were starting to feel like noodles. As I soldiered on, I could see other riders making their out attempts. I had been passing some riders, but I couldn’t tell for sure if they were on their attempt or just out warming up. Regardless, I tried to use each one as a rabbit to overtake.
I was thankful that the gearing didn’t give me a problem. The bike was shifting well — not that I was doing a lot of it. However, I did go down to a bit harder gear as I made my way within sight of the finish. The clock stopped at 23:32 for the 10 miles.
That wasn’t what I wanted by any stretch. At the same time, I was much better than I felt I did. I had pretty much convinced myself it was going to be a 24:00+ time. Only being 20 some seconds off my best time was a surprise.
Turns out my out portion took about 11:50. That is significantly slower than previous attempts. However, the back portion took around 12:20. That is significantly better than previous attempts. I imagine there is something to learn in there… I’ve just got to figure out what it is an capitalize on it.
I had to leave before the winning times were announced. However, I figured that since I was competing in the Cat. 1/2/3 field that I wouldn’t be seeing “the podium.” Later, I was surprised to get a tweet from my friend, David McQuaid, who informed me that I had taken second by a second. Chris Calder, having returned from racing with the USA development team in Belgium, crushed all of us with a sub-twenty-one minute effort.
We’ll see how things go next time when most likely there will be a few more heavy hitters who I assume were holding off from the time trial in anticipation of the criterium in Spartanburg tonight. Folks like Eric Christophersen and Matt Tebbetts regularly turn 22 and sub-22 minute efforts. I’ll be on the outside looking in at that point!
However, that is what is so fun about the Spinners series. It really is a relaxed atmosphere. Really, for the majority of the participants it is as though we are a support group cheering each other on against the clock. If you are interested in turning your pedals in competition, this is a great venue to start with.
As for me, I’m determined to improve my time during the next few events. I’ll start by making sure I schedule things better!