John Stenner Memorial Colorado State Time Trial 2012

This race has been my number one goal this season.  After finishing fourth last year I was hoping to improve my time and my placing.  In 2011 I finished the 40k (very close to 25 miles) in 52:14 at 28.5 mph.  I was just under a minute behind the winner’s time of 51:11.  I knew with proper planning, preparation, and equipment that I could cut a minute off my time and compete for the State Championship Title.

I was also somewhat encouraged to hear that last year’s Champ wouldn’t defend his title.  Scott Tietzel is focusing on the Leadville 100, and would be riding the Baily Hundo (100 mile MTB race) on the day of the State TT  (Update: He won!). My pick for the win, James Peterman, would be starting directly behind me as the last rider on course.

The full course description can been seen in last year’s course preview,, but I’ll summarize: Flat, straight, and exposed.  There is a single one minute climb that will have some racers shifting into the small ring, but otherwise the course gradually undulates.  There is one 90 degree bend negotiated twice, and a single turnaround.

Part of my race plan included pre-cooling and drinking a sugary drink every 5-10 minutes.  For pre-cooling, I wanted to find a lower concentrate carb drink in ice slurry.  I’ll have to do further research on this, since all I could find was an icee from a gas station.  The sugary ice mixture is colder than freezing and drinking a good amount at the start of the warmup can lower body temperature and prevent overheating during the race.  I also tossed a couple ice cubes in the armpits of my skinsuit and stuffed my flat aero water bottle (with icee) down the back of my skinsuit during warmup.  Pre-cooling seemed to work well, except the icee was pretty concentrated and I think it didn’t leave my gut as fast as I would have liked.

During the race, my plan was to take sips or with with the now liquid icee just before the three turns on the course.  This worked well, except there were a few gaps in my 5-10 minute plan with only three turns.  Luckily this was taken care of for me since I had a few wet burps that tasted pretty sugary in the latter half of the race!  (Sorry for the detail, but riding your bike as hard as you can with a horizontal esophagus has its risks)

Full Race File

I rode the race with my new SRAM Red power meter and Garmin 500.  I wasn’t too sure if the unit would give identical numbers to my old power meter so I was going to use my experience to guide my TT, and the power numbers to assist.

Before going into each leg, I’ll mention my stats:
Weight: 72.5 kg (160 lb)
FTP/Threshold Power (Road bike) 330w (should be slightly lower on TT bike)
Threshold Heart Rate: 164 bpm

Leg 1: 334w, 28.1 mph, 154 bpm average

This eastbound leg overall was downhill into a headwind, I made sure to tuck as low as possible and hold the power back.  I tried to keep the power around 400w (125% FTP) over the hill to not over-cook my legs early in the race.  Variable pacing suggests more power when speed is lower (as in this segment).  However, negative split pacing suggest taking the first part of the race easy as not to accumulate excess fatigue.  I think I did well balancing these contradictory goals by averaging just over FTP, but I could have started a bit easier still.

Leg 2: 330w, 26.0 mph, 163 bpm

This leg is uphill for a few minutes and then flat.  Shortly after the southbound turn starting this leg I was passed by Jim Peterman.  I knew this was a likely scenario.  Since I felt I had been holding back, I decided to try riding with him (By this I mean keeping him just at the top of my limited field of vision about 30 feet ahead, and riding off to the windward side, not drafting).  I held on to him through this section with relative ease.  Pacing was again very good, as I rode my highest power on the slowest leg.  My heart rate rose to barely below threshold.

Leg 3: 308w, 33.3 mph, 164 bpm

Remaining nearly flat, the conditions changed from headwind to tailwind after the turnaround.  Jim went a bit harder out of the turnaround and gained a few seconds.  He continued to extend the gap, but I was patient.  I knew I would be wasting my energy pushing on the flats with the tailwind so I kept my head and didn’t go too hard.  The end of the race is slightly uphill and would have a tailwind and I wanted to stay fresh for when it mattered most.

Leg 4: 321w, 29.7 mph, 168 bpm

The final leg includes the most ‘climbing’ of the race, and would have a tailwind.  This is the ideal time to push hard.  It is the last leg (negative spilt pacing), and when pedaling uphill with a tailwind, minimal effort is wasted against the wind (variable pacing).  I did a good job here and reeled Peterman back to within 3 seconds at the finish.  I would have liked to see 330w here, but I did all that I could.

Busted Aerobar Clamp

I decided on the final descent that I would stay as low as possible despite the poor pavement condition.  A few seconds later BAM! I smashed a pothole and felt something snap.  After an instant of panic I realized I had broken the clamp on my left aerobar!  Luckily I only had a few minutes left to race, and braced across to my right hand, sharing the load.  I don’t think this impacted my time very much, but it could have been a worse outcome if I had broken something else, crashed, or had it happen earlier in the race.

Summary:

I came very close to my goals for the race.  I didn’t make the podium (finishing 5th), but I was within 40 seconds of the winner, versus 56 seconds last year.  I was 57 seconds faster than last year’s time (although to be honest, the winning times across most categories seem to be about a minute quicker in 2012, suggesting wind conditions were more favorable).  Either way, I’m pleased with the result and it is one of my best finishes of the year so far.

About Russell

I have been racing bicycles for a decade. This blog will chronicle my efforts as a Category 1 road racer lining up with the pros.
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6 Responses to John Stenner Memorial Colorado State Time Trial 2012

  1. Mark says:

    Great race and post…what is the weight differential between your new PT and old one? Now that you have raced with the new one, what do you think the correlation is with your wired PT?

    • says:

      The weight difference is negligible, perhaps 50-60 grams. The crank is about 150g (1/3 lb) heavier than a non-power SRAM Red crank, so on race day my bike will actually be a bit heavier (16 lb total). The old PT hub is about 200g heavier than a lightweight road hub.

      From what I saw yesterday, I’m pretty sure I’ll be comfortable with the numbers from the new meter. I sold the wired PT wheels already, so I didn’t get a chance to ride with both of them to verify.

  2. kenny says:

    great job on the race. what will you do differently next year to make sure you get the top spot.

    • says:

      Very good question.

      Over the past two seasons, I’ve learned two things.

      First, racing and continued intensity is good for me. I took too much down time with my injury last fall, and had to work to rebuild my fitness more than I had anticipated. I’ll continue racing cyclocross through December, and start racing again in March. This should leave me a little more fit next year.

      Secondly, training load matters. Last year I trained more, and was faster. I’ve taken some time to adjust as with my new job and as my baby becomes a toddler. I’m not sure if I’ll be ready to commit more time to training next year, but I know that riding more brings greater results to a certain degree.

      I don’t expect to gain too much from further improvement in position or equipment. so fitness is all I’ve got left to work on.

  3. Brian P says:

    Nice work, Russell. Although maybe not the result you wanted, it sounds like you were pleased with your effort. Semi-related question: I heard that many racers are moving to smaller cranks on the TT bike in order to improve comfort and position in the tuck. Have you heard of this?

    • says:

      Yes, I have.

      In fact I ride 175mm cranks, like most folks my size (6’0″) on my road bike, but I used to have 172.5mm cranks on my TT bike. It allows more chest clearance at the top of the pedal stroke, and slightly more elbow clearance around the front. The shorter cranks also require a taller seat height, which further opens the chest and lowers the front end relative to the rear.

      Unfortunately that was one of the only two disadvantages moving to a crank based power meter, I would have to choose a single crank length. In the end, I went with the road length since that’s what I’ll be doing most. The other disadvantage is that I can’t swap to compact gearing (without losing power data, that is).

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