Archive for June, 2009

A Crazy Team Time Trial

Posted: June 1, 2009 in Bicycle Racing

After failing once again to break the 25 MPH barrier in the Southern California/Nevada District Individual Time Trial Championships, I found myself on the starting line a week later with three teammates (Todd Barker, Greg Page, and Jeff Scanlon) for the Team Time Trial Championships — 4-men 180+ (cumulative age of riders at least 180 years). It was a very strange race.

The team that started 1 minute ahead of us was led by one of my oldest racing buddies, Craig Jones. (There was a small amount of trash talking right before the start.) The team that was 1 minute behind us was one of the mighty Amgen Masters Team.

We got a nice clean start and we went a couple of hundred yards down the road where we see Craig’s team pulled over on the side of the road. It turns out that one of his teammates on a bike with horizontal, track-style dropouts, had his wheel pull to the side — more on this later. We didn’t want to start too hot so we settled into a comfortable pace (for me) and wouldn’t you know it, Craig’s team comes barreling past us.

A little bit about the course. It is a rectangle with two 6 mile straights and two 2-1/2 mile straights. You start just out of turn 4, do a lap and then finish just before turn 1. You end up with about 23.1 miles.

Before we got to turn 1 (6 miles into the race) a couple more things occur: Jeff, who is usually pretty strong, is already missing turns and having trouble getting back in line and the Amgen team comes flying past us. For the less initiated, flying is faster than barreling.

We get around turn 1 and Jeff, who had ended up on my wheel at that point, completely fell off the back. I called out to the other two to wait and we kind of slowed down but it became obvious within a minute that he was not going to get back on so away we went.

So now we’re in 3-man mode and wouldn’t you know it, we’re catching Craig’s team. We get on to the long back straight and we pass them just before a small hill. We get over the hill and they pass us. I think we passed them again but they passed us back pretty quickly. The problem is while we were going at a pretty steady pace, one of their guys is hurting and another is also not so good so they kept going fast then slow. We decided to stay behind them until after turn 3.

The 2-1/2 miles between turns 3 and 4 was pretty eventful. Craig’s team seems to recover a bit and they are staying comfortably ahead of us but a team that started 4 minutes behind us passes us and then another Amgen team (with Thurlows Rogers) comes by us in a blur. We get to turn 4 and come out of it pretty well and for some reason, Craig’s team is really slow and we almost ride into them.

After that small bit of confusion we all get going with them still in front of us. Something happens to them again, they slow, and my teammate, Todd, swerves to avoid them. I’m second wheel and I just miss Todd. For some reason they pass us again and now I’m getting a little frustrated. It gets to my pull and I take a long and faster pull to get around them. Finally we’ve passed them for good.

Unfortunately, I’m medium rare at that point and I end up sitting out a pull so I don’t blow completely. I take a pull and then sit out another. Fortunately, Greg and Todd take up my slack without too much trouble. From there we’re good to go and ride pretty smoothly to the finish.

Oh, and that wheel pulling issue on Craig’s team ended up not being completely resolved. They finished just a bit behind us and as we were jawing, we saw that the guy’s rear wheel was slightly rubbing the frame again. The adjuster screw had pushed out of his generic, carbon frame.

I was hoping that we could go under 51 minutes since we had done a 51:13 for a 27.0 MPH average last year. Unfortunately we ended up with a 51:46 for 26.7 MPH. Last year we were 3rd out of 11 teams. This year we were 5th out of 7 and we were over 1-1/2 minutes behind 4th.

At least we had fun.