Wednesday, March 6, 2013

time trial time trial

no, I don't have a stutter.  you know I have a thing for words and an inability to resist opportunities for word-play.  technically this post should be labeled shopping for a new bike, part II, but I just couldn't resist.
time trials, for those of you who've never met one, are short(ish) efforts at an anaerobic level:  when I say "short," remember that I consider a ride to be "long(ish)" only if it's over 50 miles or three hours.  the following is adapted from a bicycling magazine article by fred matheny:

At first glance, time trials are the simplest form of cycling competition. Cyclists start at intervals, usually 1 minute apart, and ride the course as fast as possible alone. The object is to complete the distance in the least amount of time. No drafting is allowed. It’s one rider against the clock. Often called the "race of truth," the time trial is perceived as the ultimate test of a cyclist’s ability. You ride as hard as you can from start to finish.
One major advantage of time trialing is safety. Because each cyclist starts alone, one minute apart from the next cyclist, you are on the course without the crowd that characterizes mass-start bicycle races. No drafting is allowed. Therefore, the emphasis is on sheer riding ability and fitness, instead of esoteric skills like following 6 inches behind a speeding wheel or cornering in a tight pack.
At speeds greater than 20 mph, almost all the cyclist's power output is used to overcome wind resistance. Obviously, the cyclist who best slices through that invisible wall of air has an advantage. As a result, time trialing has become an equipment-oriented sector of cycling. Aero-bars is a significant means for a cyclists to cheat the wind.
Time trialing is a demanding event. It involves determination, self-discipline, and persistence. Good time trialists can push themselves to the absolute limit for the duration of the course. In physiological terms, they hover on the very brink of their anaerobic threshold where the slightest increase in speed would drive them into irrevocable oxygen debt and a lost race. Psychologically, top time trialists must learn to overcome pain and blot out all other distractions in their quest for speed. But the difficulty-and ultimately the fascination-of the sport arises out of this perilous quest for human limits, both mental and physical.

so a REAL time trial involves competition against others, but anyone can ride their own personal time trial anytime they want.  the best competition is that with oneself. 

yesterday my plan was to return to contender bicycles and take the time bike I've been looking at out for a real ride:  up and down a canyon, where I could get a sense of how it handled, especially while descending.

I had no intention of doing anything like a time trial;  in fact, I had made up my mind to just enjoy the ride, focus on the feel of the bike, ride at a leisurely pace, all that.  class yesterday morning was full of challenging intervals, and I had no plans to add an aggressive ride.
and then I got on the bike.
started pedaling, headed up a hill.  a steep hill (the path from contender to emigration is primarily up, up, and then more up).  my heart was pounding and I was in the lowest gear, and although it didn't feel great, it felt okay.  (my heart, lungs, muscles, not the bike, which felt great.)
that bike is nice.  it's smooth, it's responsive, it's calm.  when I push hard it goes faster.  which causes me to want to keep pushing hard.  which makes my heart pound more, but darn it, it feels so good when the bike takes in what you give it and moves a little more quickly.  wow.  I pedaled; it went.  and my heart kept pounding.
thus the unintentional time trial. during my time trial.  

that is one nice bike.

today I'll return to contender to give the cannondale one last shot at capturing my heart.  the cannondale still ranks higher in the fun category for me, but . . . the time was very, very sweet.  especially during that surprise time trial.

I'll keep you posted.

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