2016 Race Report #6: Church Creek #2 Time Trial

My sixth race of 2016 was the Church Creek Time Trial #2, held in Church Creek, MD, on Saturday, July 16, on the same 20 kilometer (12.42 miles) flat out-and-back course that I raced on back in May: Church Creek Time Trial #1 Race Report. This second race was the regional age-graded time trial championship. The weather was hot and humid: temperature was 79 degrees with humidity at 84 percent at 8:00 AM. The wind was light at four mph from the west-southwest.

I completed my warmup in two parts. The first part was a structured 30 minute routine on my trainer. The second part was a five mile/17 minute transfer from the parking lot at the race registration site to the start line. I added a couple of short, race-pace efforts at 24 mph during the transfer ride. I arrived at the start line with a minimal aero wheel on the front of my bike and a full aero wheel on the rear.

There were 20 competitors registered in my age-group race. Only 17 of them showed up. What I didn’t realize at the time was that 10 of the competitors that showed up were technically in the next older age-group. (The promoter has the discretion to combine age-groups.) They included Doug M., who is currently ranked first nationally in the older age-group, Richard S., who was second at the 2016 USA Cycling Masters National TIme Trial Championship, and Jim Y., who was second at the 2016 USA Cycling Masters National Criterium Championship. Almost all of my rivals in my own age-group showed up.

This would be my first race using the Garmin Vector power pedal system. My bike computer would be displaying real-time data on my power output, heart rate, cadence, speed, and distance. I train by power, cadence, and heart rate during my weekly interval workouts. This would be the first opportunity to translate those workout results to actual race conditions. My plan was to focus on power and see if I could maintain 230 watts, just slightly above my functional threshold power level of 223 watts.

For a change, my start time was after many of my fastest competitors had started their runs. I gradually accelerated over the first three minutes (1.2 miles) and reached 275 watts, 24.5 mph, 100 RPM cadence, and 144 beats-per-minute heart rate pushing my 53 x 17 gear. My challenge was to maintain that level of effort over 12.4 miles. I quickly overtook two competitors who started thirty seconds and one minute ahead of me. During the course of my race, I was passed by one of my age-group competitors who started one minute behind me. Nobody else passed me, nor did I pass any other competitors.

Race replay: Church Creek #2 Time Trial

The winning time was 0:29:35 (25.20 mph) by Doug M. The next three racers, all from my age-group, finished under 30 minutes with average speeds ranging from 24.85 mph to 24.97 mph. Then, the next four finishers were from the older age-group. I finished ninth in 0:31:48 (23.44 mph average). The sixth place finisher, Richard S., and the seventh place finisher, Jim Y, were only three-tenths of a second apart. The time gap between them and me was only 20 seconds. This race gave me a glimpse of the level of competition I can expect over the next several years before I join the older age-group. Basically, I have to be able to push a bigger gear in order to match their speeds.