After racing Barry Wolfe GP on Sunday, I was grabbing fresh salsa from the salsa bar at Sea Casa when a timid voice from the corner asked me, “You won yesterday, didn’t you?” What followed was an entertaining conversation with a junior boy who had just raced the crit and wanted to know everything, I mean Everything, about my win at the CA/NV Time Trial Championship the day before. I had never seen or talked to this new small friend before and I was humbled by his excitement and interest in my success.
At the close of my 2013 season, I sat down to map out my goals and expectations for 2014. The normal line items were to do better, get better results, and race smarter. These goals, however, are very abstract and difficult to attain without a clear path to achieve them. With the help of Brian and Paul, we narrowed my focus onto the time trial where I had achieved moderate success without putting a huge amount of effort into the craft. Gunning for a time trial victory is really exciting because the gains are tangible and the process to get there is measurable, not much is left to chance.
Priority number one was to get the bike fit properly. Once we had it dialed in, training on it became a weekly adventure. I spent countless hours in our local canyons accompanied only by tumble weeds and train conductors, honing my skills at riding the time trial bike. The elements seem to be the least forgiving on TT day, putting me in the saddle for hours of very specific efforts in the blazing heat or pouring rain, always battling severe block headwind. I train alone and I haven’t listened to music while training since the early 2000’s which I believe helps me to refine the hardest skill of time trialing: mental focus. Come race day, it’s just going to be the bike and me. Plus the ever ominous clock.
Heading into the championship time trial, I was pleased to have had the chance to do multiple time trials earlier in the season to fine tune my warm-up routine, how I would set up my gear bag and what I would eat post event. These small items are often overlooked by the racer, leaving them frazzled come race day. Practicing racing has been a key component to my my strategy of reaching my goals.
I was more stressed than usual for this race. Maybe it was knowing that I had won the CA/NV Criterium Championships just a few weeks prior and I was pushing my luck to win a second bear jersey in a month. Brian and I decided that the best thing for stress reduction was to pre-ride the course to see the turns, feel the road surface and pick the best lines to follow. Of course followed by Thai food with our team and an early night to bed.