This week was all about one event: the 2013 NC State TT. Last year I finished 2nd in Cat 3s and I was hoping to do the same thing this time around. Before you say anything, no I did not expect to win. Sasha Timkovich is still a Cat 3 and I knew I wasn't ready to challenge him for the win (I need about 15-20 more watts for that day!) just yet. My legs felt good, my bike was as faster as it ever has been, the weather looked decent...all in all it was a no excuse kind of day (although I do believe the course, in general, ran a bit slower than last year due to the wind).
Now before I get to the end, I should start at the beginning. Tim, Jenny and I rolled up together in the man-van to somewhere near Thomasville, NC to race. Tim, having never done a 40k TT before was looking to set a benchmark. Jenny, having already won the overall in one state was looking to go 2 for 2 in state-ly domination. I was looking to set a PB on the course. A silver medal would've been a nice bonus as well.
We set up the tent, picked up our numbers and I got to work on the trainer. For TT events lately since getting my pimped out disc wheel I've opted to stick in a regular training wheel for the trainer warmup so as not to prematurely wear out the fragile race tire. This has worked well so far and once I ended my warmup I asked for the time and realized I only had about 5 minutes before my start time to swap wheels, get on my skinsuit and race number. I am not sure where the time went, but it was poor management on my part. I put the P5 on the "stand" created by the tent, pulled out the rear wheel and swapped in my disc. I then went and hurriedly put on my tighty whitey suit and got Jenny to stick on my race number. I installed my helmet upon my noggin and went over to take the bike down and hop on and roll over to the start where they were (literally) yelling my name. I get to the start line and the USAC official tells me I have 30 seconds. "Ok" I thought, "Time to work."
I had a pretty good idea of what kind of power numbers I could hold for 55 minutes having done the same thing in Charleston only a month or so before. The first 10-15k of the NC course are quite rolling and the power was coming relatively "easily" and I felt comfortable in my effort level. The first left turn came and went and this long section of road was relatively flat(ter) and had a good crosswind for it's duration. I continued to pace myself well, going a bit above my # on the uphills and a bit below it on the true downhills but holding true to my 55' power number I had established in my head as reasonable (while secretly hoping I could eke out a bit more today). A couple more turns and we headed down towards the lake and back up the other side and I knew the last long section was coming up; with maybe 2 more turns. I knew based on previous experience that the final section of road took about 1.5-2 minutes to cover to get to the finish line so I was hoping to see that road at around the 52 minute mark. 52 minutes came and went but no road. 53 minutes rolled by. 54 minutes...55 minutes. Finally I made the last turn and crossed the finish line in 57:50 or so, a STAGGERING ~2.5 minutes slower than last year.
I could think of nothing that would cause something like that as I rode past the finish line. I saw Sasha and asked him how his time compared to last year and he said he went faster and that made me even more pissed. I KNEW the conditions weren't that slow, so what the heck had happened!? I had actually realized about 10 minutes into the ride that I had forgotten to pump up my front tire before heading over to the start (another time management problem) and due to using latex tubes my PSI was likely a bit low (10-20psi most likely) but while that would certainly lose me some seconds it definitely did not cost me 2 minutes. Dejected, I rolled back up to the tent and got off my bike and leaned it against the van to wait for Tim to finish and Jenny to start.
Jenny was having some issues of her own before heading to the start so I was preoccupied while Brian and I tried to figure out what was going on with her dropout screws. An hour or so went by while she did her thing and Tim, Brian and myself all chatted. The whole time I was trying to console myself with the knowledge that even if my time was not what I hoped I still had a good workout and physiological race. Not much consolation though. I went back over to my bike and rolled it away from the van to put it against a wall to take a picture and immediately noticed something was wrong. I lifted up the rear wheel and spun it and it did not make it a full turn before slowing to a halt.
Somehow, when taking out my other wheel and/or installing the race wheel I had knocked the caliper which caused it to "twist" and it consequently was rubbing on one side the entire time (discs are not usually out of true so if it's rubbing it is a continuous rub). Either that or I had failed to put the wheel in completely straight due to me rushing. Either way, the blame falls entirely on me. I was pretty upset with myself as I basically gave away that race. Instead of getting to see what kind of improvement all my changes (bike, skinsuit, fitness, pacing, etc) netted over the same course as last year I merely got an hour at threshold watts. Silver linings!
The lesson is this: DON'T. RUSH. PERFECTION.
Also, on Monday I was able to participate in a little testing. No data for myself but maybe if you watch the Tour on Wednesday you'll see and/or hear about some interesting stuff!