I think I really like time trials. You can get into a zone. Push as you want, and not worry about your legs at the end for a run. Just you, the bike, and your effort. The goal is to leave it all out there on the course. Not sure I did that - I'm still learning how to meter my effort. But I came darn close to it and I fell short by 1.5 minutes over my race last August. I will blame that infamous Eastern Shore wind.
The Annapolis Bike Racing Team hosts this 40k TT twice a year - once in June and again in August. About 220 folks show up for it, spread across multiple groups (all the way from Men's Cat 1 to Tandems and this year, even a para-entry). Because I'm unlicensed (and buy a 1-day that morning), I race in the Women's Master's 35+ age group. I guess I could race Cat 4 (the beginning level women's category, vs. men's Cat 5). Maybe I should, because the Master's group was stacked heavily this time with at least 2 Cat 2 racers and some super strong women. "Go race in your Category!" I wanted to shout when I looked at the entry list the night before the race (and got the skinny on them from a friend of mine who races them), but they couldn't hear me through my computer screen. If only.
So that morning, I rode down with Tom, who started about 50 minutes before me. I saw him off then went to find shade to stay cool before my own start. Riders go off every 30-seconds. After chatting with some of the women hanging out by the start, I got in line to go. Soon I was on my way. I tried to take it easy for the first 5 miles or so. But I had a bit of a tail wind and I knew I'd have a headwind once I made that first right. Sure enough, I made that right through the swamp, and the wind picked up, the speed went down, and the road had the shape of washboard. I held lightly on the aerobars, just enough to control, but light enough to save my wrists from the pounding.
It was about then that I realized something was up with my water bottle. It has a long straw leading up through the aeros and I was just about turning my face inside out, trying to suck HEED out of my bottle. I was dying. I realized at the start that I somehow lost the gel I knew I put in my pocket, so I had just a shot of Perpetuem before the gun. I needed my HEED calories, as I felt myself dancing on the edge of a bonk. Finally, in desparation, I ripped the bite valve off the straw and HEED flowed out like a gusher - all over my hands, my bars, my stem and top tube. Lovely. But I drank like I just returned from the desert, and when I was finished, put the bite valve back on, and realized I had it rotated 90 degrees off from where it should have been - so rather than biting it open, I was biting it closed. Yikes.
Made the final turn, and had a wind at my front quarter, so I could pick up the pace again. The speed creeped back up, but it wasn't enough. Crossed the line (the race is now chip timed) in 1:08:02. Good for 4th out of 7 in my group - right where I expected to be given the caliber of the women in my group. But I was hoping for 1:05:00. That blasted wind on the middle 3rd slowed me down. But back at the middle school, all we heard was tales of slower times and wind. So I didn't feel too badly. Others suffered with me.
There's always August!