Cherry Valley, IL 20k Time Trial: There’s a First and Second and Third Time for Everything

Sooooooooooooo, I’ve wanted to participate RACE in a Time Trial for several years, but the only one(s) I heard of for a long time was the kinda-intimidating Bong Time Trial Series (not what you think, hippies). It always conflicts with something or another in my schedule, year after year, though. Luckily, it turns out there are a lot of events out there, and Coach Hayes sent me a link to this lil’ Cherry Valley, IL 20k TT thinger.

“Shitfire,” I said, “let’s do this.”

My biking has been coming along nicely in the last two seasons, especially, and this year Get A Grip Cycles was kind enough to supply me with a new Parlee TT ride. The thing is sweet! I’ve been able to achieve a way more aggressive, steeper, lower, ALL POWERFUL position on it than on my old frame (the beloved Planet X Stealth formerly known as Ziggy Stardust), so I couldn’t be happier on it.

For the race, I didn’t do anything extrordinary in terms of set-up: I took my bottle cage off, but left my Fuel Belt Aero FuelBox (full of contingency items) on. After much struggling with a sticky locking ring, I slapped my Wheelbuilder aerojacket on, and borrowed Hayes’ Zipp 808 for my front wheel. I knew it would be windy and I’d be really twitchy, but I’m a stronger rider now and know I can handle it. (Let me tell you about the century ride we did in 2009, wherein I came home sobbing because I almost blew into a cornfield several times, like Dorothy heading back to Kansas.)

Sometimes, ignorance is bliss.

I managed to talk Henry into not only doing this thing with me, but driving me there. His idea was to register for two events, both Cat4/5 and Age Group, to hedge something going wrong during one or the other race, and in the name of getting a good workout in and our gas money’s worth. I loved that the second race only cost $10. If this were tri-land, it would be $75.

Although I solicited advice from Coach Ted Ramos, I never really followed up to tell him, yes, I’d be riding with my trusty CycleOps PowerTap. I know my current FTP, and knew most advice I’d get would be to ride at or above it over the 20k course. Sure enough, general instructions from Coach Hayes were “go balls out.” Problem being, I have a real hard time pushing up to and past my FTP when out on the road. I just don’t like the pain cave, and back off. Even at Olympic races, I tend to ride conservatively at nothing more than 85% of what I’m capable of. I don’t know what that’s about, but IT WILL BE FIXED.

So, needless to say, I didn’t have much of a plan or mindset for this thing. Fine with me, it being my first TT and all. I don’t want to expect much.

Henry and I made good time up to Cherry Valley, outside of Rockford, IL, made some friends at the gas station (ol’ boys like my swagger, s’all I can say), picked up our race numbers, and set up our trainers in the parking lot.

We got maybe 20 minutes of warm-up before riding 3 miles to the start line, and waited. HH went off 6 minutes before me. There was one woman about 4 minutes ahead of me, and none for at least 10 minutes behind me. =/ I really wanted to target my competition, but it looked like it would be just me against myself (oh, and the clock, and some dudes) out there.

So then I rode. Snore.

Big headwinds with serious YAW on the way out, and I was mostly miserable, but got really low and powered through. The course has one 90-degree right hand turn (left on the way back, duh), plus the 180 degree turn around. I almost killed myself on the right bender, thinking I could stay in the aerobars through it. Nope, not with those winds, a disc, and an 808. I’m not THAT awesome. The return trip totally made up for all the wanting to die, though. WHEEEEEEEEEeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee, I think I hit 33mph on the flats at one point!

So again, ignorance, I didn’t look at my time, didn’t hit lap or check out my averages. Whatever, results would be posted soon enough.

By the time I finished, HH had about 10 minutes until his second race, so we pinned new numbers on each other and got ready set. At some point he had decided not to pace himself for two events and really pushed and spent himself on the first race. He killed it, so he was all “whatevs” about this one. I was also “whatevs!” but more in a “that was fun, let’s do it again and go get burritos afterward!” kinda way. It was less of a race than it was Six Flags, in my head.

Winds had picked up even more in the 27 minutes between my races. Cray. But this time I knew I wasn’t going to die, I just hunkered down and kept pushing. My Watts were not where I wanted them to be, again, but my legs were pretty trashed from a hard week of training and a fun (read, fast) ride the day before. My quads went numb every time I pushed to my FTP, so… I guess I rode tempo? I did NOT try to kill myself through the 90 degree turn, this time, and pulled it off with some panache. Again, big headwind meant BIG TAILWIND, and this time I hit 35 mph. So, so fun.

Burritos ensued, a Dairy Queen was located, and Henry and I headed back to check results* and gather up some awards. Looooooong painful story of-waiting-for-results-and-for-the-race-organizers-to-get-organized short, Henry came away with a Win and a Fourth, and I got a Double Win. My two rides were within 30 seconds of each other, confirming that a) I don’t sprint, b) I’m stupid good at pacing, but not at making myself hurt, and c) Half and Ironman distances are about right for me.

When it came time for Overall awards, I was happy to have earned $20 (!!!ZOMG!!!) by placing both 2nd and 3rd with my two rides. Anyone who knows me knows that about a split second after I say “oo cool! GIMMIE MY $20!” I’m like “waitaminute, who the hell got first???” Yeah, I never saw her out there, but I’m pretty sure she only raced once. The $20 went to Blizzards at DQ. I finished mine first, so counted that as my third win of the day.

Verdict: TTs are fun. Thumbs up, recommend, would do it again, again. =)

*it’s bullshit they way they reorganized the results, but just look at the times. That’s all that counts, anyway.

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2 thoughts on “Cherry Valley, IL 20k Time Trial: There’s a First and Second and Third Time for Everything

  1. Does the coach give you preferential treatment because you sleep with him? And how is he qualified to coach anyone at anything other than eating hot dogs?

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