The forecast called for wind in the town of Dufur (the host of our TT) today and unfortunately it was very accurate. Getting dressed and my bike set up on the trainer for warm-up were annoyingly challenging due to the car doors constantly blowing shut. It was not only windy, but freezing-ass cold as well- definitely not optimal conditions for fast time trials. The only good thing about the conditions was that the wind was blowing such that we would face a head wind on the first leg of the TT and would be aided by a tailwind coming back.
My warm-up went well in that pushing my TT wattage didn’t seem too taxing on the legs, so I had high hopes when I lined up for my start. I ditched my gloves and leg warmers, rolled up to the line, and tried to think warm thoughts for the remaining 30 seconds of rest before all-out exertion. There was nobody to hold riders upright at the start and we went straight up a freaking climb from the get-go, so as I set off I missed clipping in to my pedal a couple of times before getting underway. I did the initial climb slightly above my TT pace, anticipating being able to recover when it leveled off, but was dismayed to discover that it got even harder at the top of the climb because I turned directly in to the headwind. This was no normal headwind either; it was reportedly around 25mph. I tried to get as low and aero as possible and settled in for the suffering.
During the headwind stretch, I had serious trouble generating the wattage I usually have no problem with in training. This was in large part due to the fact that I was running a rear disc wheel and a 90mm deep front one. I was seriously debating running a different wheel combo before the race because of how hard it can be to control such a setup in strong winds, but ended up gambling that it would be fine since the predominant wind was not a crosswind. Once I was racing, I discovered that there were in fact gusts coming in the crosswind direction, and these were nearly blowing me off the road. It is difficult to concentrate on one’s effort when one is coming so close to crashing nearly constantly.
Despite having to wrestle with my bike to keep it on the road, I did manage to catch several riders who had started ahead of me. I used the thought that perhaps they were hurting even worse than myself as motivation to keeping pushing. Even though my power meter says otherwise, the headwind leg of this TT felt like one of the hardest efforts I have ever done. I was super relived when I reached the turn around point.
Once I did the about-face in to the tailwind, my speed shot up enormously. I was spinning out my largest gear at times and surpassed 40 mph on multiple occasions. I discovered that it is actually kind of scary to go that fast on a TT bike, especially when there are crosswind gusts and your position is very low and sketchy. I passed a few more riders coming back and made it to the turn on to the finish line stretch very rapidly. I came terrifyingly close to crashing just after crossing the line due to a combination of fatigue and crosswind. I was spitting out weird stringy stuff, which I actually took to be a good sign that I had worked sufficiently hard. Nevertheless, my wattage was sub-par so I wasn’t super optimistic about my result.
Because of this, I was shocked and delighted when I saw on the results sheet that I had won the stage! I guess that the conditions probably knocked everybody equally off of their game. My gamble on running deep wheels probably paid off as well since I certainly felt like they were acting like a sail to propel me on the return leg of the course. Even though it sucked, I guess I liked that TT in the end. I guess TT’s always suck though, and I like TT’s, so perhaps that means I like things that suck. Hmmmmmm.
Anyway, we also raced a criterium today, and I was determined to: A) not get caught up in a crash and B) not let any of my rivals gain any time on me. I was unconcerned with trying to get a good result on the stage. From the gun, I went to the front and remained there for the first 2/3rds or so of the race. We kept the pace high, and no attacks came that lasted more than a fraction of a lap. Once there were around 6 laps to go, I allowed myself to drift a little further back in the pack to try to avoid some of the jockeying for position that would surely ensue leading up to the final sprint. When that sprint came, the victory was taken by none other than Travis Monroe, the climber kid who got crashed out on stage 1. I’ve said it before: that kid has some serious talent. It will be exciting to see how he does when he inevitably starts racing at the next level.
After the crit was over, there was some confusion about the podium situation. They got everyone there for the stage victory podium, but not so much for the GC podium. I collected my leader’s jersey and tried to leave, but the lady who presented it to me insisted that I get my podium picture taken too. I decided to try to make up for the lack of podium mates by striking a pose.
Hopefully I will get a chance to get a better podium shot after the epic climbing stage tomorrow.