Wowza. That really, really hurt.
Today’s TT was a long one, 47km to be exact–I think it is actually the longest TT I have ever done both in distance and time. To be quite honest, I really don’t know why I like time trialling. I mean, I don’t hate myself, I don’t freakishly enjoy pain more than the next guy. At the end of most time trials I often wonder to myself ‘how in the world did I just do that?’ Today was another one of those days.
The plan was laid out the night before and looked exactly like this:
8:15 wake up, kit up, eat breakfast.
8:45 drive 25km of course, ride last 22km.
10:00 eat race meal. Rice and eggs–YUM
10:30 shower–shave legs, shave arms, shave face.
11:30 leave hotel for start
12:20 start warm up
13:11 hurt yourself on your TT bike for approximately an hour.
All of this went according to plan. As I began my warm up, and even hours earlier when doing course recon, I could tell my legs were still responding well to the previous days of racing. How well, we would soon find out.
I was nervous, but relaxed. The good thing about a long TT is you have time to settle in, find your rhythm and for me that is a comforting thought. In a prologue or a shorter time trial, a lot of focus is on gear changes, taking the corners as fast as possible and holding that high rhythm when you can. I was so relaxed today in fact that a couple times I had to remind myself that the upcoming time trial was not going to be easy and was actually going to be one of the most difficult hours of my life if I did it right.
Typically, I do much better when I am relaxed–when I can joke with teammates, smile, bust out a couple dance moves… That is when I know I can put in a good result. Intensity for me is best saved for the race. I take my profession very very seriously when I have to…all of the other times I want to enjoy my life and smile as much as I can.
So back on track… Warm up was great, the staff was great in taking care of any and all of my needs and soon I found myself in the start house.
Funnily enough, the girl holding my bike up on the starting ramp was my teammate Manuel Quinziato’s girlfriend… We exchanged smiles, I told her to give me a big old push and soon enough I was off.
Note: she did not push me. I was quite disappointed.
Having never done a 47km time trial I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect or how to pace myself. One thing I do have to my advantage, however, is a great understanding of my own body. Somehow, when I’m on form, no matter the distance, I just know how hard to go. This natural instinct has served me very well in the past, and today was no different.
Since I am 3rd to last on general classification, I was 3rd to start which meant I had 2 guys in front of me acting as carrots for me to catch.
I started conservatively, focusing on my cadence and I knew almost immediately that I felt great. That ‘great’ feeling only lasts so long however and soon, the sweat was dripping down from my helmet onto the inside of my glasses and my breathing quickened.
Pace yourself, good. This is great. Nice cadence. You can do this. I had my greatest motivator–myself–in my own head, as well as Rik on the radio.
The road whizzed by, continuously rolling, never flat. I focused on were I could keep speed and always kept a high cadence–around 105-110 rpm.
I had black tape over my Watts on the SRM so as not to psych myself out, but kept an eye on speed, distance, and cadence.
The suffering in a time trial begins immediately. However, it comes in various forms. At the start you are fresh, the adrenaline is flowing. This feeling is quickly replaced with a slight tingling that is uncomfortable but manageable. Upon getting around halfway you are hurting, heaving the air in and out of your lungs. The last quarter of the race you are on the precipice of death. You can see the light. You wish so dearly for the pain to stop but you can’t. You push, and you push.
I knew that the last half of the race would make all the difference. Having seen the course firsthand I knew it was much more difficult than expected. There were 3 small climbs that you had to power over and then 17km averaging slightly downhill until 1km to go.
As I crested the top of the final mini-climb and arrived on the plateau with the key 17km remaining, I was in pain. I tried to block it out, focus on my cadence but fork…it hurt. I kept the speed up, trying to find the right gear on the bumpy Spanish pavement, knowing that in a km or so I would have some seconds to breathe as it was steep enough downhill that I could coast.
The downhill passed much too quickly and just like that I was back in the zone. In the box. In the pain cave. Whatever you want to call it, I wasn’t happy but I had to push. This was where I would make up all my tim–this section here, the last rolling downhill 15km.
The kms went by quickly as I was sitting on 60-62kph. The legs, while burning, still managed to stay at a high cadence and I just had to fight and fight, push and push to the finish. I thought about the days I had suffered already here in the Vuelta and how I had come here just for this.
Go Taylor. Go!
10km to go.
8, 7, 6.
5 to go. Come on!!!
4km, just like on the track, keep the speed up!
3km, the beautiful city of Salamanca was fast approaching.
2. Get over the cobbled bridge, into town and…
1km to go. This is it! Go go go!
500 meters. It will all be over soon, PUSH.
150. Shit! Fork in the road where the cars pull off and riders continue to the finish. Left!
50m to go it is done! Bike throw!
Hard on the brakes as to not hit the barriers!
As I gasped for air and fought the urge to throw up, someone from race organization notified me that to get out of the finish area I would have to walk down a flight of stairs.
‘Are you kidding me?’ I could barely move I was so toast…
BUT, I made it down safely, one step at a time, carrying my lovely steed–my BMC TM01 I have grown so fond of in these past months
As I got to the bottom, I could finally breathe a sigh of relief and just coast for a bit, Rik and Och coming up to me in the team car praising my efforts.
All I could say was ‘F**K that hurt.’
But when I can finish feeling as terrible as I did today…I know I had a good ride.
I believe my end result was 5th and I am quite happy with that considering the past 9 days and this being my first grand tour and all…
Tomorrow. REST DAY! I’ve never been so excited in my life.
Keep it real and remember, save that intensity for when you really need it! The rest of the time, stay happy chappies.