The start of the road racing season means the culmination of months of hard work. For me, there’s no better test of form than a time trial. This type of race pits individual riders against the clock to complete a course in the fastest total duration of time. The Oregon Bicycle Racing Association calendar kicks off the season with the popular Jack Frost Time Trial. Featuring a 20k (12.42 mile) flat out-and-back course, this race is an opportunity for riders to measure their early season fitness.
In addition to being a great test of fitness, this particular race also allowed me the opportunity to test out some new equipment. Over the winter, I built up an Argon 18 E-80 TT bike––a simple yet effective platform for achieving an aerodynamic position. With a few rides and a couple of minor changes, I felt strong and fast!
On race day, I arrived early to ensure I had enough time to warm up before the effort. I set up my trainer next to some friends and tried to relax a bit. It wasn’t long until I secured my helmet and rolled over to the start gate. As the clock counted down my entrance onto the course, all the nervous sensations I felt disappeared and I focused on my final deep breaths. On the officials’ mark, I was out of the saddle and pedaling away.
A few hundred meters down the road, I was in the aero bars settling into my pace. After reviewing the winning times from last year’s race, I knew I had to set a minimum average speed of 27 miles per hour over the entire course to finish close to those results. To minimize any anxiety during the race, I created a new page on my Garmin computer with one data field––speed, and stayed on pace easily with minimal stress.
After reaching the turnaround halfway through the course, my legs began to feel the toll of sustained effort. My eyes darted back and forth from the road to my Garmin, and every time I saw my speed drop, I was able to dig deep and bounce back. With about 3 kilometers to the finish line, I felt the wind at my back and shifted down into the hardest gear I could push. At this point, I could only think about the relief I’d feel at the finish. Rounding the final sweeping turn, I kicked into the highest gear on my bike and smashed it all the way to the line.
With my ride complete and my legs ridden to full exhaustion, I limped back to the staging area to warm down and grab a recovery drink. I uploaded my ride, eager to see what data could be quantified from my race effort. I had ridden just shy of my target with an average of 26.9 miles per hour! Knowing your goal is in reach with a dedicated work ethic that shows results is a thrilling feeling. The pace I set wasn’t enough to take the win this time, but it landed me in 5th place for the Pro/1/2 field and showed that I had put in the work during the off-season. I felt ready for the next test and one of the biggest races on my calendar––Chico Stage Race in California!
Written By Emmett Culp (@emmettculp) – bike racer, marketer, and former bike mechanic.