Or...The One Thing I Wasn't Worried About...Or, better yet...And They Heard Her Exclaim As She Rolled Down the Road...
I can say, regarding my first Time Trial race, I learned a lot (especially what NOT to do)!
I was up at the butt-crack of dawn to be dressed and ready for Debbie and Manek to pick me up at 6:30. Start time for the Cucina Fresca Icebreaker Time Trial (between Auburn and Black Diamond) was 9:00am. Then, this morning I noticed an email had been sent last night with the ACTUAL start times. My start time was 10:50:30. Debbie's was a minute before me at 10:49:30. Even Manek didn't start until 10:22. Needless to say, we got there in plenty of time. Maria was there when we arrived. She had a much earlier start time of 9:03. We, on the other hand had a good couple of hours. At least we weren't going to be late.
We checked to make sure we didn't have to do anything at the Cucina Fresca tent (waivers had been signed online). We watched Maria do her warm-up on her trainer, we waited in line for the potty shacks, and ogled the TT bikes and aero helmets. Most of the people with the really fancy aero bikes are triathletes. A time trial is like the bike portion of a triathlon. The rest of us have all kinds of set-ups from just your basic road bike (ie no aero bars), to road bikes with aero wheels and aero bars (stuff you can easily swap in and out).
When it was time for Maria to head to the start, Manek and I went over to watch. As she was waiting her turn, a gal comes riding up to the start at a little beyond the last second. They gave her the 5 second countdown and she was off, but about 5 seconds late (oops). The clock starts at your start time--not the time you actually start. After a couple more people, it was Maria's turn. One person held her bike so she could be clipped in and ready to go. Another gave her the last minute instructions (road is open, don't draft behind cars, turnaround is at 5 miles) and counted her down from 5. Then she was off and pedaling. We came back later and watched her finish, and also watched Katie start (Katie reminded the bike-holder guy to not drop her--I won't write what she actually said to him!).
Maria did great and gave us the lowdown on the course. There was a particularly bumpy spot not far from the finish that we needed to watch for. Also, the finish was not at the start line. It was earlier (which means we would want to start our sprints earlier).
I calculated I would start my warm-up at 10:15. I did the warm-up Jen had told us to do when we did the practice TT. It lasts 21 minutes. At the end, I took Tessa off the trainer, took a swig of water, donned my helmet, glasses and gloves, and Debbie and I headed over to get in line for our starts.
As we roll up, I look at the start clock and it says 10:50:34. WHAT??? I'm supposed to start at 10:50:30! I ask if they are on schedule and am I supposed to go? First guy says no, but the start guy starts counting me down! Okay! I guess I'm going! Manek and Katie are cheering from the sideline. What do I exclaim as I stomp on the pedals?..."CRAP!!!" I know I just missed my start! Even worse, Debbie was supposed to go a minute BEFORE me! DOUBLE CRAP!!!
I get up to speed and drop down onto the aerobars. I'm thinking, "How did we miss the start?" I thought we had plenty of time! Apparently not! My heart rate is climbing rapidly. I shift into a bigger gear to slow down my cadence a little. I won't be able to maintain this for 10 miles if I don't bring it down a bit.
My goal was to pass at least one person. I see my target ahead. I push a tiny bit harder and go by her. Whew! Goal accomplished! I continue out to the turnaround. I'm warm in my jersey, light base layer, arm warmers, and leg warmers. I ask myself, "Am I too warm?" No, I don't think so. I try to get a song going in my head, but alI I keep thinking is, "Crap! I missed my start time!"
I make the turnaround and head back. I yell, "Go Debbie!" as she passes going the other direction.
Maria had told us there were some inclines that would slow us down a little. Really, the course is billed as flat, and it is. It's just that when you are working as hard as you can, you notice even the slightest change--up or down. I pushed up the small rises trying to keep my speed up. Oh, that was hard! I periodically look at the distance--how much farther, how...much...farther!!!
A couple of riders have passed me (I didn't feel too bad as they were both on aero bikes). Cars are passing fairly frequently. Two motorcycles go by and I notice, a bit later, that they have slowed down, but are riding side-by-side, taking the whole lane. What do I do if I catch up to them? I can't cross the yellow line to pass them. I guess I'll yell. Fortunately, I don't have to. Perhaps they see me coming, because they speed up.
I go through the bumpy part doing a good job of avoiding the nasty humps in the pavement. Soon, I hit the 1 km sign. My brain can't calculate how far that means I have to go. I just know I can't start sprinting yet. Then comes the 200km mark. I see the red tent, which is the finish. My legs are too tired to get out of the saddle to sprint, so I just pedal as hard as I can across the finish line (I hope that's where I hit my maximum speed of 26.6mph). My time registers as 27:58:13. I slow down, but am still sucking wind like mad--a little dizzy even. I keep going until my heart recovers to a reasonable rate of 115 (my average heartrate was 155--max was 169). Debbie joins me back at the car. We both wonder--how did we miss our starts?
After we change and load the bikes back in the car, we go to see where we placed. I placed 5th out of 16 riders. All else being equal, had I started when I was supposed to, I would have placed 4th. I think 5th is okay for my first race.
So, coming into this race, I was nervous about getting checked in correctly (didn't have to do anything there). I was nervous about getting a proper warm-up (nope, got that done). What I wasn't nervous about was getting to the start line on time. Missing my start wasn't the best way to start my racing career but, you can bet that won't happen again! Otherwise, it was a good day!