Blood, Sweat & Bacon Time Trial Race Report

My fifth race of 2014 was the Blood, Sweat & Bacon Time Trial, held in Smithfield, VA, on a rolling hill 11.4 mile triangular-shaped course, on Sunday, July 13. The weather was already hot and humid an hour before my 8:28:00 a.m. start time: temperature was over 80 degrees, humidity was 100 percent, and the wind was SSW at 5 mph.

The promoter had posted the course profile on the Ride with GPS website, which gave the impression that the course would be flat and fast. As I neared the race start, at the end of a three-hour drive, I realized that the course was anything but flat. My biggest challenge would be shifting gears efficiently to keep my pedaling cadence in the 90-95 RPM range as I dealt with the fluctuating grade changes along the course. Finishing an adequate warmup was not an issue. In fact, I had to shorten my warmup by 15 minutes so that I didn’t get overheated or dehydrated.

Originally, my age group was combined with the next younger age group, who were scheduled to race the 40 km (24 mile) course. But, the race promoter was persuaded, in the week prior to the race date, to add a separate category for us and allow us to race the shorter 18 km (11.4 mile) course. It was a welcomed change given the heat and humidity.

There were five competitors in my age group race. I was familiar with four of them. The fifth individual was a first-time racer, without a time trial bike or aero gear. I didn’t expect him to challenge me. As for my other competitors, I expected a challenge from one guy who was my age, but had been competing in the next younger age group for most of this season. I was fortunate that he was slotted to start immediately ahead of me, my “minute man.” He became my target. If I could close the time gap between us, or pass him, I expected to win this race.

I started at a moderate pace and let the course dictate my gear and cadence. On the flats and downhills, I would shift into a bigger gear and pedal at a high cadence, while on the uphills, I shifted into a smaller gear that allowed me to maintain my target cadence. Since I was unfamiliar with the course, this proved to be an effective strategy. Turning onto the third and final leg of the course, I spotted my “minute man” in the distance. Since it was unlikely that I would be able to pass him in the final couple of miles, I focused on closing the gap between us.

I succeeded in shortening the gap from one-minute to 32 seconds. I finished first in 0:30:16 with an average speed of 22.5 mph, for my third win of the season. My “minute man” finished in second place in 0:30:48 (22.2 mph). The first-time racer finished in fifth place, in 0:35:15, almost five minutes slower than me.

Race replay: Blood, Sweat & Bacon Time Trial

Normally, podium finishers are awarded cash or medals from the promoter. For this race, several categories, including my age group’s podium finishers, received a pound of bacon, rather than cash or a medal, from the chief race sponsor, Smithfield Foods. As my wife remarked when I returned home, “You’ve spent thousands of dollars on equipment, spent thousands of hours training, and logged thousands of miles on your bikes. It was about time, you brought home the bacon.”