Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The ABCs of DNFs and TTs

A couple recent curiosities from my athletic endeavors:

DNF- The polite way of saying "something went wrong...real wrong...," stands for Did Not Finish.

I entered the Pyramid Lake Sprint Triathlon a few weeks ago. In the midst of Ironman training, prep for a sprint race includes nothing more than a few speedwork sessions and an easy day beforehand. And a nice long workout afterwards.

Cruised out to Pyramid with Ethel, Chase, and Lauren; Chase was racing too. Nice late race start- 8:30 or 9am, so instead of being bleary-eyed, we spent the hour or so before the race joking around with the other racers.

The 750m swim went smoothly except for when I got kicked squarely in the goggles at the first turn buoy. I came out of the water a couple minutes back of the leader, had a quick T1, and got the bike up to speed for the mostly flat, kinda rolling "12" (actually 14) miles.

1.5 miles in, descending a hill under power at 35 mph, leader within my sight across the desert vistas, I hear thap-thap-thap-thap-BOOM! and pull off the road. Rear wheel off, damn it!, tire off, geez flatting in a short sprint race sucks, tube out, it's're here to have fun, tube in, CO2 in, and I watch as the sidewall of the tire bulges out half an inch; it's shredded to the cords. Race over. Really not safe.

Walk the bike to the other side of the road, start walking back in. A few minutes before making it back to T2, the leader comes by. And a couple other guys. And in 5th, the guy I had just blown by before my tire exploded. Walk up to T2, hand my timing chip over, rack the bike, and spend the next hour or so cheering for everyone who comes through.

Get home, diagnose the problem. Worn rear brake pads and narrower race wheels cause the caliper to pull too far up and actually contact the tire. If you think about it, brakes don't get used very often in races. Turnarounds and coming into T2, unless there are other technical parts. So ironically, the stop'n'go test ride I'd done on the race wheels the day before the race put the fatal wear into the rear tire.

Training wheels back on. Went out and smashed myself by climbing Mt. Rose glued to the aerobars.

First DNF ever, totally my fault, and I hope it's the last.

TT- The polite way of saying "the most pain you've ever felt on a bike," stands for Time Trial.

We've got a local Hillclimb TT series in Reno this summer. I was still in NZ for the first one, but I've caught the next two and the final one is this coming weekend. I learned a lot in NZ about what a TT effort should be. Namely, you fall off the bike with your final pedal stroke across the finish line. And I learned a lot in NZ about climbing. Namely, the mountains around Reno/Tahoe aren't all that steep. So I've really been looking forward to these TTs as good bike training.

I'm pretty new to the whole bike racing thing, as triathlons are a whole different can of worms. I'm about the only triathlete who comes out to these TTs, and the roadies sure are a unique bunch. Especially when they make fun of me for showing up with my TT bike. They're quieter when I pass them in the aerobars when they're out of the saddle.

Geiger Grade is a steady climb over 7.6 miles and 2100'. I'd climbed it in 38 minutes before with an all-out effort, but never with the added excitement of race day. I was able to stay in the aerobars for all but about 90 seconds of the effort and managed to dip below 35 minutes. I didn't know my name at the top, and lost track of how many people I'd passed, so the pacing was about right. My effort was good for 9th!

Before I went to NZ, my personal record up Mt. Rose was 1:18. I got repositioned on my bike shortly after coming back to the US and promptly cracked off a 1:10. That 1:10 had been a pretty big effort, so I told myself I'd be happy with anything below that, but with no concrete time goal. Mt. Rose has a few more variations in grade than Geiger, which translates into more opportunities for free speed. It's also considerably harder, with 13.7 miles covering 3700' and quite a few totally flat spots (so steeper climbs).

I got passed twice in the first few minutes of the climb, and wondered if it was going to be an off day. Whatever, keep going. I kept my effort high but steady, made use of the free speed opportunities, and did everything I could to turn the pain off. I crossed the line in 1:03 and some change, a personal record by nearly 7 minutes! Passed only by those two guys and got by 15. 12th place!

So long story short with the TTs, I think they're great fun and are also good opportunities to ride hard...really hard...without having to run afterwards. Kingsbury is this Sunday and I can't wait!

Here are some pics from Mt. Rose:

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Patiently waiting for pain

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One of only 5 places not too steep for aerobars

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Only about 10 minutes left to go. Hurts really bad now.

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Absolutely wrecked

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