2016 Race Report #5: Shenandoah Time Trial

My fifth race of 2016 was the Shenandoah Time Trial, held in Shenandoah, VA, on a hilly 22.25 kilometer (13.83 mile) loop course, on Saturday, June 25. The weather was overcast at my 9:14:3 a.m. start time. Temperature was 68 degrees, humidity was 94 percent, and the wind was from the northeast at six miles per hour.

This was my third race on the 22.25 kilometer course in the past three years. So, I knew what to expect. My biggest challenge would be shifting gears efficiently to keep my pedaling cadence in the 95-100 RPM range as I dealt with the fluctuating grade changes along the course. There would be over 800 feet of climbing, with grades reaching 17 percent in three places.

I finished a 35 minute warmup and arrived at the start line ready to race. There were 11 competitors registered in my age group, and all of them showed up, including two new entries, Fred W. and Mark H. Both of them are faster than me. Jim H., who I’ve only beaten once in the past several seasons, drove down from Pennsylvania for this race, which is part of the regional time trial series. I felt that I had an outside chance for a podium finish if I could beat at least one of this threesome.

Just like last year’s race, I started in my small chainring for the first two miles of the course. Once the course leveled off, I shifted into my big chainring and started pushing my biggest gears at speeds in excess of 30 mph. In fact, I came off the first hill at close to 40 mph. I kept my cadence high, frequently over 100 rpm, continuously shifting between my small and big chainrings as the course’s undulations demanded.

The eventual winner, Fred W., started three minutes behind me. He caught me with about a third of the race left. I had already passed the two competitors that started half a minute and one minute ahead of me. I was concerned about Jim H., who started a minute behind me, and Mark H., who started 30 seconds after Jim H., a minute and a half behind me. As it turned out, they didn’t catch me until we were a kilometer (a half mile) from the finish. Then, three abreast, we sprinted for the finish line. I crossed it two seconds ahead of Mark and 12 seconds ahead of Jim. So, technically, only Fred passed me during the race.

Overall, though, Fred finished first in 0:35:47 (23.18 mph), Mark was second in 0:38:14 (21.69 mph), and Jim took third place in 0:38:54 (21.32 mph). I finished fourth in 0:39:42 (20.89 mph), eight seconds faster than my finish at last year’s race. As a consolation, I moved from third place into second place behind Jim in the points standings for the regional time trial series championship that I’ve won over the past two seasons.

Race Replay: Shenandoah Time Trial

My next race is Church Creek #2 (flat 20 km), which is the regional time trial championship, on Saturday, July 16. I expect to do much better than my sixth place finish at Church Creek #1 last month, when we raced in a downpour and I was still shaking off the effects of pneumonia.