Monday, May 14, 2012

Celtic Chrono

I did not believe Ryan when he said I could do a good TT (he says a lot of things when the day is long ;)). But he was right - again. He so much trusted in my potential that he went far and beyond his husbandly duties and built me up one of the best TT bikes there can be once I knew I had an entry into the Celtic Chrono. For my first TT bike I thought it was a bit overkill and that the disparity between the level of equipment and level of possible performance bordered on Fred territory (the bike was only ready a week before the race), but he said as long as I give it my best I will have done it justice.

Celtic Chrono arrived and I started 7th out of 34 riders. Win/win situation: the fastest riders start last, so if I did badly than it's what my starting position would have indicated, if I did well, even better!

In Ryan's go-faster skinsuit! photo credit: Stephen Prentice
The race:
I arrived at the start ramp in time and even got my cleat hooked into my pedal before I was off (and yes, Fran, I started in the big ring this time!). I didn't fall off the start ramp either (for some reason that was my biggest pre-racing fear, next to making an idiot of myself). We had a good side/tail wind for the 8km, then a steep enough climb (small ring), but with a tail wind, so not so bad with a flatter road again. Then, when the road turned again at about 18km, there was a horribly strong and gusty side wind. So bad that I had to resolve to riding in the horns rather than the extensions for much of the way because I had a huge sail for a front wheel that threw me about like crazy. I just noticed I mentioned the wind a lot, but I think it was the defining factor for this race really. The good thing was that the concentration needed for keeping the bike upright took the focus away from the pain in the legs. I knew I was loosing time this way, but I thought if I fell off the bike and had to get back on I would loose even more time and what would Ryan say if I wrecked his wheels??? I was able to ride on the extensions again for the last 5km or so and arrived after 52min 16sec. In the end that was enough for 9th overall and first Irish rider, and just outside the UCI points by 3 secs. I think I caught a good day. How can I not be happy with that! The winner, Wendy Houvenaghel did it in a time of 48:35.

Results and write up on Stickybottle here.

A few general TT observations:
  • Preparation is everything. Allow way more time you think you need to get your bike and yourself ready.
  • It helps to have a bit of a nerdy expert for a husband who knows a bit about TTs (and has all the top-end aero equipment). I would never have been able to do this well without his advice (and equipment...).
  • MTB training seems to carry over well for TT performance.
  • Big aero wheels are hard to control in windy conditions.

A few special thank yous:
There are many people who have helped me in one way or another to even be able to start, let alone put in a good performance, but a few stand out. For mechanical issues: Dave Daly, Cathal Miller, Aidan Reade and Billy Walsh. For follow-car: Dave Daly. Jack Watson and Oliver McKenna for making sure I was the first Irish rider over the line and not the 2nd German. Paul Hicks for finding us a good deal on the frame. The girls for making it a fun event. 

Finally, I thought the race was very well organized and run, with closed roads and the marshalling spot-on - you know, with nothing to compare to I will take this as the standard now ;)