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Aug. 12, 2005

My cycling team has a monthly 10-mile time trial that we use to gauge our progress over the season. A practice of truth, if you will. The final one was this week. I hadn't done well at the last one so I really wanted to shine this time.

I had several advantages going in:

  • A new, more efficient pedal system.
  • A rested, conditioned body.
  • A week spent in the oxygen tents of Yosemite.

But then it looked like I'd be foiled by weather. It stormed Tuesday night and was forecast to storm again Wednesday morning. When I woke up, however, the rain had stopped, so I caffeinated, ate a banana and headed to our start/finish point at Soldier Field.

I forgot that one should never ride down the lakefront after it's rained, as the water and sand conspire to gunk up a bike's every last moving part (see above). But I looked on the bright side: A wet road meant less surface friction to slow me down. Questionable traction discouraged unnecessary braking. And an ominous western sky encouraged haste.

There's not much of a narrative that can be told from a time trial. You pedal hard, you pedal hard some more, and then when you can't pedal hard any more you puke and then pedal even harder.

Right before the finish line I passed my minute woman and came close to passing my two-minute man, the teammates who had started, respectively, one and two minutes before me. My time? I'd nailed it: 25:16, more than two minutes faster than at the start of the summer and a minute faster than my best time. Of all the teammates who have ridden the course this summer, the only ones to have done better are either Cat 3 or soon to be.

Perhaps the time trial is my ideal event, after having little success with the road races or crits. Or maybe it's just the practice time trial, like the quarterback who can hit a tire from 60 yards but can't complete a screen pass during a game. I race again Sunday, so I'll soon see whether this translates into real results. In my only other 4/5 criterium back in May I got dropped hard and early. This time I'd like to keep up for at least the first lap.

Photo taken: Aug. 10, 2005