Skills for a fast time trial take practice, but will serve you well in most bike races: any time you're riding alone, of course, and in ways even riding in a pack
"My worst time trials were not been my slowest, but the ones where I knew I caved and didn’t push as hard as I could for the entire distance. The pain of discipline is always less than that of regret."
"Seeing your times get faster as your fitness improves is rewarding, but for me learning to stick with a hard effort and not give up has translated to success at every distance."
Sarah Cooper, race director of the Elkhart TT Series near Des Moines, ultra-distance cyclist, and all around badass, has inspired and informed our efforts since we first dreamt up the CRANDIC TT Series. Imagine how pleased we were when she told us she would race the first CRANDIC TT in May . . . maybe.
This weekend, just days before our race, Sarah will return to Trans Iowa. "A time trial after 340 miles of gravel is profoundly stupid, and I hate saying I’m going to be somewhere and then not making it. But most of my season is stupid. The State Time Trial Championship is the week after a 700 mile brevet. I’ve waved good bye to common sense for 2018. Unless I can’t walk, I should be there."
We look forward to it, Sarah. And good luck this weekend!
How's your sprint? Do you even know? How many chances do you get to try different finishes when win or lose you're done until next weekend? Imagine instead sprinting every few minutes for 5 or 6 laps in a race, then resting a few minutes and going at it again. Welcome to Night at the Oval.
Long a staple of the Hawkeye Bicycle Association in Cedar Rapids, Night at the Oval has been sorely missed the last few years. Fortunately this year Goosetown Racing Club has brought the series back to life. "We need more beginner-friendly race opportunities, and this is a very safe and easy venue to set up," said GRC's Larry Howe.
Riding in a group means drafting, riding close to others to save energy. It takes practice, balancing safety, comfort, and speed. But it really isn't difficult: ride smoothly and predictably, anticipate others, guard your front wheel, and relax.
Fortunately Night at the Oval offers a perfect chance to practice pack riding skills. Racers are staged in appropriate skill levels, and as CRANDIC Racing Club's Rob McKillip explains: "The track is huge. There is a ton of space. Get in the pack if you're comfortable. If not, sit at the back, or even attack and try to time trial away. Either way, it's a safe way to have fun and get a killer workout."
Before I ever raced a bike, a criterium-racer buddy thoughtfully explained to me that "time trials are for fat old guys who still want to race." As a 30-something-year-old wannabe who outweighed him by 30 pounds, his assessment made me wonder. Years passed, I came to love time trialing, and I often remembered his comment with a smile. But I also realized just how wrong he was: time trials are for everyone, and pretty much any racer can learn and grow from the "race of truth."