Saturday, May 9, 2009

Digital Cameras and Masochistic Torture Devices

In an eerie replay of the last Horse Country time trial, we brought out the trusty Nikon with it's irrefutable time stamp to help determine Jen Purcell's finish time. Only this time, it was to resolve her confusion over being declared the winner. Having raced a lot recently and with a good Redlands behind her, Jen was still a bit unnerved at the start, shaken at Paula Felix's unfortunate crash at the velodrome on Friday night (our thought and best wishes for recovery are with Paula.)

Jen arrived with what...5 minutes to get her shoe covers on and pump up her tires! Mina Pizzini was in the start blocks directly in front of Jen and at the finish, the marshals declared Jen the winner even though she did not think she closed the time gap on Mina. When Jen rode up to look at the results, she was confused, since her high tech cyclocomputer had her with a 30 ish minute finish rather than the 28 they posted. The Swatch analog wristwatch tells no lies! Caryn and I looked at the time stamps and my math was very hazy since I had just finished a few minutes before. Jen would not believe the time even though everyone was in awe at the "no warm up, road bike with aero bar new course record strategy"

After we got the abacus out and Caryn wrapped her uncanny "bend radius, sheet metal skilled" accuracy around the numbers, it was only obvious that it was Mina who won, and she set a new course record (first woman under 30 minutes!) Mina did not arrive to look at the results until a few minutes later so she did not have to question the officials. Mina is also wired with every bit of telemetrics you would ever want, so we scrolled through her time, which verified the sub 30 minute scorching of the course (25+MPH).

Jen showed she is a superlative sportman as she wasn't wanting to be given a result that would have taken away from Mina's remarkable effort. Jen was also close to being the first to go sub 30, but stayed out of her lactic threshold due to the problems she faced on this day, still unnerved at the previous night's events.

Now on to a more prosaic item, my ride.

I bought this specific mass of aluminum, leather, rubber and carbon fiber thinking it was a time trial bike. I was mistaken. This particular item is a torture device roughly in the shape of a bicycle. Time trial bikes are fetish items, used by masochists. The last Horse Country Time trial looked enjoyable, but my work of art, the Klimt Y-Foil is a non UCI allowed item. Now these events are not obligated to follow the rules established by the contrarians who are the UCI, but I wanted to be within the spirit of these rules. What a mistake. 5cm setback from the BB, 75 CM from the bb to the end of the extensions, your body has to be tortuously manipulated to fall within these capricious rules.

To make the effort today even more ludicrous, the bike developed a personality of it's own on the last Wednesday ride I rode it. It complained loudly, developing a horrendous squeaking, and decided to try to pitch me off of it. I think the bike has a shetland's personality. Braying and biting, wanting me to get off of it. It was one part fetish object, one part annoying little animal.

I start with David Pearson's words in my mind "I'm expecting the SMU Cycling Club founder to do the TT in under 30 minutes" Since I like to chase rabbits, and don't do a lot of these events, I ran out of carrots about 4 miles into the ride. I caught the two guys in front of me and with the wind at my back, I was feeling OK. At the turnaround, I wish I could have switched to my regular bike. The Time trial bike must have multiple personality disorder, as it became all the things I complained about previously. It now hurt to sit on it and the noise from the bottom bracket was loudly proclaiming that I sucked. I was being tortured so much that at about the 15 K mark, and then at 18k I was passed by two cyclists who had started 30 seconds and a minute behind. The bike was pleased I was so ignomiously passed.

Pro riders and TT specific bikes spend hours in the wind tunnel, investigating everything to shave a few milliseconds off the possible elapsed time. Caryn was concerned that I let an extra inch of zip tie flap into the wind. If only that was all I had to worry about. Try to avoid pedaling squares would be a more legitimate concern. Or how about avoiding the slowdown after these carrots are consumed. Or better yet, actually spend some quality time on this infernal bike and get it dialed in so my upper glutes don't hurt so much. When did I get these muscles that hurt so much tonight!

At the finish, up the hill, Caryn said I was swaying like Stevie Wonder trying to stay on the extensions. 11th out of 18 starters in the Masters Division, but I'm still waiting to see where I finished in the 50 + (31 min 45 seconds, 23+ mph)

I can't wait to hear David's post mortem (Hmm, you sucked) on this excruciating excuse of a sinister branch of the sport of cycling!

Kudos to our Mina Pizzini, she is a great time trialer, and I would bet she would beat anyone on campus. Willing to take the challenge?


Rob W. said...

Mmmnn. Time trials.

Is it me or does your saddle look low and your position too far forward? Your knees are way forward of your pedals. Your leg looks like it has more extension available, and your butt seems low.

But enough of me staring at you in spandex.

I dare say you might have been faster on one of your regular bikes, where you are more comfortable. All the aero advantages of this rig are quite negligible under 27-28 mph, perhaps they accounted for 5 seconds of advantage. You lost more than a minute (for sake of argument) due to the fact that the rig is a bitch to ride. I've seen you ride 23 mph quite easily on your ciocc!

Nice mutton chops on the helmet, though.

DavidP said...

Great job!!! No, I don't think that performance sucks at all...especially since you beat my March time by almost a minute! I think we need a head-to-head in July!

I agree with Rob that your saddle could probably come up a centimeter or two without over-extending your legs. Check it out on a trainer and see...

I don't think your saddle is too far forward...may not be UCI legal, but when I asked Kevin about that last year, his response was essentially "ppfffft!".

I don't think much of aero features on any bike (eg. internal cable routing, etc), instead, does it allow you to get into the most aerodynamic position possible and still have good power in your pedal stroke. Comfort is really only a factor in a longer race (think half/full iron triathlon at 2-6 hours)...surely you can suffer for 30 minutes!

A good aerodynamic position can have benefits even at lower speeds when you consider the "effective wind speed", factoring in your speed plus any headwind.

Get your BB issues worked out and spend some more time on the bike. Maybe get a couple other riders and have a Team Time Trial in August????? said...

Seat too low? I had it as high as possible before I hit the "soft tissue threshold" The flite saddle might be a bit hard on the nose, but the 175 cm cranks made me lower the seat 3mm from my usual height.

Lots of 28-35 out and 20 coming back. My fitness is still a bit early season, so this can at least be a base time to do analysis in the future.

David, the conditions were probably a minute faster this time, so out times appear to be a wash

DavidP said...

A study in focus...and in pain!!!}A{&EVENTID=53053&PWD=&ID=66040893&FROM=browser&START=145&SHOW=36&CAT=0&SUB=0}A{&EVENTID=53054&PWD=&ID=66041125&FROM=browser&START=145&SHOW=36&CAT=0&SUB=0