Oh man that hurt good. Really good. It was just a 2.5 mile time trial (a second under nine minutes) but the coughing from lung inflammation is just coming to a halt now, eight hours later. I was just getting over my cough from racing up at altitude at Gila, but this uphill TT brought it back. The pain in my legs lasted half way down the hill after the effort was done, and even back at the car in the parking lot I was having dizzy spells as I tried to open a can of Coke, which ended up spraying all over the van door. It always feels good to go that hard and know that your effort was near max capacity. Now if only I wasn’t racing a bike that was a full three pounds heavier than the UCI limit…
The course starts out with a short, low-grade downhill section, followed immediately by over two miles of climbing with pitches just touching the double digits. It’s important not to go too hard during the first 500 meters and blow your wad, like my teammate Dan unfortunately did, because it only gets steeper and harder from there.
I rode conservatively for the first half of the race, not really knowing how fast or hard I was going since I was racing without power or heart rate. It felt easy though. Too easy in hindsight. I could have and should have shaved some time off in the first 2/3 of the race if I had gone harder there, even if it meant less power in the final third of the race. With 1K to go I started laying the hammer down and with 250 meters to go I slammed it through the ground up the steepest ptich. When you end a TT with the kind of effort I did at the end, you know you left too much in the tank. I put about 20 or 30 seconds into my one minute man in the final 300 meters. Nevertheless, I feel like my performance was somewhat close to what my potential was, which wasn’t that great for today (but not too bad for a bigguns like myself): 48th at 59 seconds down from the winner (Mancebo of RealCyclist–no surprise there).
Photo courtesy of Cyclingnews.
I’d say the big upset of the day was my teammate Chris Parrish, who finally broke the top 10 in an NRC stage race. Although, I guess I wasn’t surprised at all. He’s been close with an 11th GC at San Dimas, and has had amazing form lately with a 24th GC at Redlands and a 20th GC finish at Gila, but the top 10 has eluded him and the HB cycling team up until this afternoon. We’ll make sure he keeps his 8th place or improves on it over the next three, difficult stages.
Tomorrow is a 110-mile, hilly road race and the day after is basically the same, at 104 miles of steep but short hills as well. Sunday’s a technical, 90-minute crit with a hill too. I’m looking forward to each stage as the hills are just short enough for me to thrive on, hopefully, and maybe I can put my large old legs to good use at the finishes.