Ray's Blog

Sunday, February 26, 2006

2003 December 7: San Jose Bike Club 4 Person Team Time Trial

This was my first ever bicycle race! I've done organized bicycle rides (where you're in no hurry to get to the end) before, and I've done triathlons before, but never a real bicycle race.

On Friday (December 5), Ed told me that the San Jose Bike Club was running a team time trial race on Sunday, and asked if I wanted in. The course was five laps around a 4.5-mile (or so) loop, and you ride with a team of four riders. Teams have staggered starts, and aren't supposed to draft off of each other. The time for a team is the time that the third rider crosses the finish line-- so a straggler or someone who gets a flat (especially near the end of the race) is likely to be dropped off the paceline (he/she should keep on riding until the end, though-- it's possible that one of the other three riders will have some problem, in which case the dropped rider has to cross the finish line to stop the clock!).

Ed and Arik were the experienced racers on our team (Arik does lots of races with this club), and Li and I were the novices. The day before the race, we went down to Morgan Hill (where the race was held) to do some riding on the actual course and work on our paceline technique and strategy. Chad joined us for the Saturday practice. I won't say much about the practice; it was nice, but the weather was kind of chilly and damp and foreboding, and I was definitely concerned about what race morning would bring us.

I was surprised to learn that it was OK to have aerobars, etc., on a bike for this race. In fact, pretty much anything went, and racers could use full-on triathlon bikes! So for the actual race, I rode my tri bike.

Race day ended up being a little nicer than practice day, weather-wise. Still rather chilly, and we had a few minutes of annoying light rain during the actual race, but overall, it was OK. The night before the race I started having a sore throat, and if this hadn't been a team event, I probably would have bagged out (which would likely have had a positive effect on my health). But it was a team event, and I didn't bag (although I did have the sense to skip my ice hockey game that night).

The four of us wore our Google bike jerseys, and we registered as team #11, which meant that we would start five minutes after the first team's start. The race organizer gave us kudos for having very visible jerseys that identified us well and made it easy to track (he had to make sure we biked the right number of laps, etc.). Even without our Google jerseys we would have been fine, though, especially since Arik's wife, Naomi, was helping the race organizer with the timing.

We had determined that Ed and Arik would do most of the actual work during the race, since they were easily the stronger racers on our team. We held to that pretty well! Ed and Arik did a lot of pulling, and Li and I took much shorter turns at the front of the paceline.

We kept on trading places with a particular team. We'd pull ahead of them on the flats, and then, when we reached the single hill on the course, they'd pass by us. These were actually the team who started 30 seconds ahead of us, so we were doing pretty well to be hanging with them.

Despite my relatively short pulls, I started to get pretty tired. At the end of the fourth lap, it was decided that the other three racers would forge ahead, leaving me to finish in my own sweet time (in other words, they dropped my sorry ass). For a while (until they went out of sight), I watched them making good time pulling ahead of me while I struggled on my merry way. (I wasn't really dying or anything. I just wasn't going all that fast, either!)

Our final time was 1:00:40. I finished a minute or two after the other guys did, I think.

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