Fort Collins Cycling Festival – Rawhide Time Trial

The Fort Collins Cycling Festival has existed in years past, but not at this level. This year they have expanded it to three days of racing, a Gran Fondo, and a downtown festival with music, expo, etc.  They may have overextended themselves a bit by attempting to cater to so many different groups, however.

The UCI has launched the , new for 2011.  Personally I see it as a bit of an attempt to latch on to the popularity (and money) of age group amateurism a la Ironman.  Perhaps we’ll have to wait see how it develops after the inaugural year to see how it fares.  Anyway, this TT is one of the seven worldwide qualifiers for the amateur world TT.  But, I would have to race my age group rather than Pro/1/2.  Since even if I ‘qualified’ by finishing in the top 10% of my age group I would not travel to Belgium in six weeks, I opted for the Pro/1/2 TT.

An additional example of trying to have every accreditation possible for the race, the age groups would be World Qualifiers, and the Pro/1/2 race would be the USAC State Championship.  You may recall I already placed 4th at the State TT in June.  Well, the short story is there are two state TTs this year.

In past years the ACA State Championship has been the only one held, and therefor was properly recognized.  This year, riders with pro contracts could not race the ACA State TT, somewhat lowering its status.  To exert additional pressure on the ACA (in my opinion), USAC granted the Rawhide TT State Championship status, despite the fact the race was held on a workday and is practically the only USAC sanctioned TT in the state.

Some racers planned to race both their age group and later the Pro/1/2 TT.  The promoter published a provisional list of start times which indicated there would adequate recovery time for most racers to do this.  Unfortunately, the final start times caused a lot of conflict in this regard, and only about half of the 20+ registered starters chose to start the Pro/1/2 race.

Rawhide Time Trial Course Map

As for me, I finally borrowed some proper wheels for the race.  The was pancake flat with a few small rollers.  The area is exposed and often windy, but we also had generally calm conditions and near-perfect pavement.  With the exception of the telltale noise from the rear wheel, the disc and 101mm deep front wheel handled just like my 58mm set.

There was a bit more uphill from the start than I expected and I went out pretty hard.  I wasn’t sure how the legs were going to respond after two light weeks of training, and it was especially hard to tell with one minute between each racer.  By the halfway point I could tell I had gained on my minute man, but that was all I had to gauge my progress.

I also borrowed (i.e. stole) my wife’s Forerunner GPS and strapped it to my powertap mount.  My heart rate was on target, and I hit my LTHR at the halfway point.  I’ve done enough TTs this year to have an expected average speed, so I used the speedometer to help with proper variable pacing.  I expected to average 29 mph, so if my speed was below that I could ride harder.  When my speed was above, I could ease off and conserve some energy.  It can be hard to judge speed on the TT bike because of the low visibility and different wind noise in the aero helmet, so a speedometer is quite helpful.

It is also amazing how fast the miles can go by!  I made the third and final turn toward the finish, with about 6.5 miles remaining.  At 30 mph, it is only two minutes per mile.  I had instinctively settled into a 40k pace and had to focus to keep the pressure on the last few miles.  Sometimes I have trouble in mid length TTs because alarm bells start going off if I am going hard enough to blow up, but I need to blow up at the finish line.   The last few miles ticked by so quickly that I found a little more in the tank than I expected on the final hill nearing the finish as I passed my minute man.

I haven’t seen full results yet, but I finished 3rd in Pro/1/2 and the third fastest time of the day in all categories.  It is a good result, but I want to go faster.  My wife keeps getting on my case when I’m a little disappointed with my result but still on the podium, and she helps me remember how far I’ve come this season.

At this point I am more tempted to look ahead to next season.  Often, experienced/pro cyclists state one of their regrets is not focusing on their strengths sooner.  I have always had a hunch I could do a good TT, and this season proves it.  I was less than 3% slower than the winning time in both the State TTs this year.  I am certain I find some very good results in the TT with some modest fitness gains and additional focus on equipment.

I think an actual time trial bike rather than a converted road frame would probably be a good place to start…

About Russell

I have been racing bicycles for a decade. This blog will chronicle my efforts as a Category 1 road racer lining up with the pros.
This entry was posted in Equipment, Race Reports, Race Strategy and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Fort Collins Cycling Festival – Rawhide Time Trial

  1. says:

    Well done! I suggest you be proud, but not satisfied, with your accomplishments. And clearly you need another bike. After all, the formula N+1 applies, doesn’t it? :)

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