• Race: CycleMania | PVC Time Trial – Cape Elizabeth, Maine Time Trial Series (METTS)
  • Date/time: Sunday, May 18, 2014 07:30 a.m. (my start time was 7:44 a.m.)
  • Distance: 13.5 miles
  • Average speed: 18.7 mph
  • Max speed: 31.1 mph
  • Temperature/Wind speed: Pleasantly warm and cloudy despite the rain on Saturday. Wind was enough to be annoying on the uphill and even in a few flat places, but not in a direction that got crossed into the time trial bike riders’ disc wheels.

This is pretty much what it feels like (film clip: “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World”).

Ok, not really. I actually found the entire experience enjoyable (even when I felt like I was about to pass out and/or throw up).

Let me backtrack. I signed up for the Cape Elizabeth PVC/Cyclemania Time Trial since I had never done a time trial before (other than the Landry’s/Boston Triathlon Team/World Bicycle Relief indoor time trial in January) and my friend Jake told me that Cape Elizabeth is quite lovely. It was a bit of an adventure biking to South Station in the rain and getting my bike on the bus. Jake picked me up at the bus station and we drove through the rain to scope out the course. I have to admit, the picturesque hills seemed a bit less idyllic while actually riding up them at times, albeit more satisfying to complete by bicycle. Then we visited the oldest lighthouse in Maine and had a nice brunch with a ridiculous amount of eggs (the Italian villa scramble is crazy good) and waffles at The Good Table. There’s just something about extra carbs and protein on a foggy, rainy day before a race.

The weather eventually cleared up, so we had a quick ride around downtown Portland, Maine. We also dropped by Cyclemania (I forgot to pack chamois cream). Emily told me to tell the peeps there I said hello. The guy who assisted me at the counter said that was probably before he started working there. There was that awkward moment when I realized I could either further interrupt employees helping customers or just go without an anecdote. It’s one thing when I’m loitering at Hub and awkwardly impeding customer service interactions since I know those peeps and they sort of expect that from me. Yet, it somehow seemed even more awkward when I don’t know anyone at a shop. How many times did I just use the word “awkward” in this paragraph?

At any rate, after tacos at Taco Trio and calling it an early night, Jake and I drove to Cape Elizabeth High School early the next morning to check in and get my bib number. We picked up some coffee and baked goods along the way at The Cookie Jar. I spun around in the parking lot to warm up, a bit intimidated by all the super-fancy aero bikes (Competitive division) I saw. Good thing there is a separate division (Merckx) for non-aero bikes.

So, how did the race go?

Strava screencapI’m kind of a data nerd, so it was interesting to see that despite how I felt like I was giving it everything I had, my output was actually pretty all over the place (or at least the estimate from Strava was, note to self: get a heart rate monitor). Also, the elevation changes that “didn’t look that bad” on the map seemed considerably more daunting while actually riding them. Prior to the race, I had solicited advice from various friends. Here is a brief compendium:

“13 mi is significant for an ITT. Go hard and pace yourself? I suppose just aim to finish with a pretty empty tank.” (when I asked if I should go hard or pace myself)

For me, I try to keep everything in a time trial at like 95% of what I can physically handle until I hit the last little bit and I know I am close… Remember, you can still blow yourself up. […] it’s a matter of being at your highest possible FUNCTIONAL level” (spelling and grammar corrected because otherwise that would have driven me crazy)

I confess that I was not having as much fun at the criterium races so far this season as I initially did in cyclocross, mainly due to my lack of confidence in cornering and group riding. So, I figured this would be a nice change since we were expressly forbidden from riding close to each other except for passing and that we were to keep a minimum of 3 bike lengths away from each other at all other times. I got dropped so fast in the crit races that I might as well have been doing a time trial for how far off the back I was, so that was actually pretty good practice for this.

At the lineup, I got antsy. Was my Strava on? What if I accidentally jumped the gun? What if I spaced out and missed my cue? Oh they’re telling me to go now. Oh good I remembered to keep it in the big ring… except I started at too hard a gear and I’m going uphill now. Someone along the course shouted “GO GREEN!” probably in reference to my absurdly green road bike.

The cacophony of thoughts ceased as I got to the first downhill, where I promptly made the mistake of starting to push myself too early just to see how fast I could go. I knew that coasting wasn’t really an option, but I probably shouldn’t have gotten into the 11t cog that soon. This would later come back to haunt me in the rollers near the end (or more immediately in the first uphill where I lost momentum and didn’t shift fast enough). I made the first small lap (the bit that looks like the scoop in the upside-down ice cream cone shaped course) in fairly good time. Jake said that he walked over to the first corner at Fowler and Ocean House Road to watch me pass, but apparently missed me.

Pretty much everyone on aero bars (and a few on regular road bikes) who started after me passed me at some point. I had to remind myself that didn’t matter since I wasn’t really competing against them. It was just me and the clock. I have to admit I was a bit distracted at the trees and scenery though, as Jake was right: Cape Elizabeth is really pretty. The roads were smooth up until the second turn at Spurwink, where i was actually glad I slowed down. I bonked somewhere before the golf course and muddled my way through some of the hills, eventually slowing on the shoulder and waving a truck past me uphill on the two-lane road. Despite my “newness” at handling my road bike Malweather, I was still able to grab occasional drinks of water or take corners and follow the yellow line rule without incident. Past the golf course, I saw a man and a couple of children on the side of the road. The little kids were cheering the racers past. That was more than enough to get me out of the bonk-doldrums: the happy thought that another little girl could grow up unafraid of getting dirty or hurt for the sake of having fun and going fast.

During our initial foggy drive through of the course Saturday, I noted each hill, especially the ones near the end. There were a series of rollers and then just when you think it’s over, there’s one more hill and then a downhill into the finish line. At this point, I saw another woman Merckx division rider. I hesitated for a moment, but figured I was close to the end, so why not attack (even if I wasn’t actually racing her so much as the clock)? I was actually able to pass her while going uphill. I leaned into the last turn and crossed the finish line, stopping just in time at a stop sign to let a car go through the high school parking lot (as there was also a swim meet going on that day). Jake met me in the parking lot (I was leaning on my bike and not about to walk over to him so I waited for him to walk over to me) and I ate the rather large Boston cream donut that I had saved from The Cookie Jar for after the race (since eating it before would have resulted in me throwing up bavarian cream and chocolate frosting all over the side of the road somewhere/possibly all over my bike and losing time).

When I registered for the race, I had estimated that I would take about 47 minutes to complete the course at an average of 18mph. I finished at 42:55.4 at an average of 18.7mph. Not bad, all things considered.

End results: 2nd in my division (Women’s Merckx 18-35) and 47/60 overall.

Apparently if I do enough of these and score enough points for placing, there are prizes. So, this might mean I’ll have to make more trips to Maine (which is nice). Next race is June 15 in Freeport (home of the LL Bean flagship store). Either way, I really enjoyed this time trial and would like to do more just to see if I can get faster (and enjoy some nice New England scenery). Also, more importantly: eat crazy amounts of tasty food at really good local-to-Maine places.