2021 Race Report #3: Stray Kats Kankakee 20 KM Time Trial

My third race of 2021 was the Stray Kats Kankakee 20 Kilometer Time Trial, the third race of the 20-race Mid-America Time Trial Series (MATTS). This race is an out-and-back flat course near Splash Valley Aquatic Park, Kankakee, IL, 60 miles south of Chicago.

The weather was warm, humid, and windy. Temperature at my 9:44 a.m. start was 77 degrees, 69% humidity, and the wind was a crosswind from the west northwest at 13 miles per hour (mph). The wind would be a glancing headwind during the inbound leg of the course. The course was in bad condition with sections full of potholes, loose gravel, and cracks in the asphalt. I had to sit up several times to navigate through and around these hazards.

I completed a structured 40-minute warmup on my stationary trainer of 10.38 miles. Average speed was 15.6 mph; maximum speed was 21.8 mph. Average power was 129 watts; maximum power was 272 watts.

My objective for this race was to push a bigger gear than my first two races. My race bike has a standard 53-teeth big chainring and a 39-teeth small chainring. This is typical for a race bike. My rear wheel has a 10-cog cassette set: 23, 21, 19, 18, 17, 16, 15, 14, 13, 12. In my last two races, I have been pedaling in my big chainring and either the 18 or 17 cog. Today, I wanted to push the 16 or 15 cog. What is the difference? Pedaling at 90 revolutions per minute (rpm) theoretically produces the following speeds:

  • 53 x 18 = 20.7 mph
  • 53 x 17 = 22.1 mph
  • 53 x 16 = 23.5 mph
  • 53 x 15 = 25 mph

Today, I consistently pedaled in my 53 x 16 gear at 86 rpm average. Slowed by the steady headwind on the inbound leg, I still averaged 22.84 mph, good enough for a 2nd place finish in 0:30:00. The winner’s time was 0:29:16 (23.37 mph). Third place was 0:30:16 (22.59 mph). My top speed was 27.5 miles per hour (with the strong tailwind on the outbound leg of the course).

Race replay: Stray Kats Kankakee 20 KM Time Trial

My next race is next Sunday, May 30, a 20 kilometer time trial in Harvard, IL, a course that I’ve raced both live and virtually multiple times over the past two years.