Monday, April 07, 2008


Remember those signs from a few days ago? Note to self: next time listen to signs.

Ok, it wasn’t that bad. But it wasn’t that good. Then again nothing that is all out pee in your pants for 10 miles is ever good.

I’m talking about the time trial.

Drive about 40 minutes west from the western suburbs and you will still find corn. Good old Illinois feed corn in sprawling fields. And you will also find wind. Lots and lots of wind. I asked the human wind sock – my husband – at what speed the wind was blowing.

Maybe 20 – 30 mph.

Perfect. Those are exactly the conditions I was hoping for during a time trial. But honestly you can expect nothing less. This is Illinois. And it is spring. But I seem to have momentarily forgot that yesterday when I said to my husband.

Pull out the disc wheel.

And make it 11 – 21.

Those are fightin’ words. But probably too big of words for a small woman into the wind. I realized this as we warmed up. Squirrely would be one word. Squiggly would be another. Blown to the side of the road, not holding a straight line, not even in aero bars would all be terms to describe my experience in disc wheel 11 – 21.

I had a freak out right there on the bike. The tears started. I got scared. In my head – yes – and in my body. How was I going to stay in the aero bars? The course was out and back with the crosswind. How would I keep from getting blown?

We rode back to the car and a decision had to be made – you squiggle on the disc wheel or you race on your Power Tap. I won’t bore you to death with details of how much faster a disc wheel is than a Power Tap because I don’t know. All I do know is that in exchange for about five dozen spokes on the Power Tap wheel I get the opportunity for power data during this race but at the cost of labeling self as "fought the chicken & the chicken won" for not using the disc.

I can deal with that. So I’m in. Throw that wheel on my rear and let’s get ready to race. Heading out the start line I feel much better. I can steer the bike! I am aero! These are good things. I am also chicken shit for not riding my disc wheel but that is another blog for another day.

The next 10 miles hurt. What more can I say? You go 10 miles all out. Who goes 10 miles all out? My legs? Not really. My legs are ready to go 4 hours at an 8 percent grade moderately all out. But I’m willing to push it anyways. My heart rate is high. My breathing – LOUD! My legs – burning. Yes! We are doing a time trial for sure.

BUT THE BEST PART – I know I have said some things about numbers in the past but I’ve got to be honest with you here – I loved having the Power Tap. Every time my power would dip below a certain number I would say PICK IT UP! PUSH! The instant feedback was incredible. I could see how racing on a flat course with the PT would be very, very useful. On a hilly course, not so much. But to keep yourself in check and working at the right level on flats – the PT wins with me.

Which has made me think maybe I need an SRM (my husband is screaming somewhere).

So I ended up snotting, spitting all over myself and making the legs hurt. There was actually a 1 mile section of tailwind that I sailed through over 30 mph. Fun! But then when I came back I pushed into it at 17 mph. Not so fun!

When I crossed the line, my legs were burning. And I was so glad to be done. It was only 10 miles but there is a huge difference between riding 10 miles hard and riding 60 miles moderately hard. The 10 miles actually hurt the whole time. The 60 has ups and downs.

But I’ll still take 60 miles over 10 miles any day.

In the end, I won my category for this race and the series overall. But still overall today I was 9th. Yet while I was out there I know I couldn't have given it any more - and still I came up short. But that's the thing about the time trial - you're out there racing yourself. And what you learn is that even when you are giving it your best if you want to get to that next level you've always got to give it a little more.

At first finishing behind several other women was frustrating to me. Now I don’t know why. I thought about my reason for doing this race – to hurt for 10 miles (check) and to do the third race in the series to secure the category win (check). And for that I also get a nice check. There is nothing more to think about nor a reason to beat myself up about it. So after coffee, a trip to the dog park with Boss and husband, and dinner I got to say…..


I had to remind myself today to keep my eye on the prize. Right now my eyes are looking forward to the next big thing. All of this training and hard work is leading me somewhere else. I will get there when the time is right. Until then, I will take my lessons from this race. Trust yourself (do not listen to the inner chicken that says you cannot hold your bike in the wind), push yourself (now you know how your breathing sounds when you are going hard, how your legs feel when you push xxx watts), and above all praise yourself (for what was otherwise a decent race on a challenging day).



Marit Chrislock-Lauterbach said...

Nice Job Liz! Good call with the race wheel. I made the horrible mistake of racing a disc wheel in 20-30 mph winds once, and couldn't stay in aero for more than 15 seconds. I should have been smart and used a regular wheel - good for you!

Keep those eyes ahead and steady - good things are on the way. And I know you'll ride out to meet them head on.

Brenda O said...

Congrats Liz! Way to go!
The only 2 wheeled item I got on yesterday was my little purple scooter. It felt SO good to be on it, cuz with my expanding belly, I don't know how much longer I will be able. But I had that 125cc motor helping me along the way....
Way to go!

Jessi said...

Liz, you should look into wheel covers from They are custom cut to fit your PT wheel and they are cheap (relatively speaking). That way you always have power data and you always have the option of disc or no-disc. I love my wheel cover. It doesn't make the "whomp whomp" noise, but I actually prefer that because I can sneak up on people. :)

Beth said...

You think you are chicken for not using the disc?! This chicken here would have packed up and gone home!!!! I HATE WIND!!! :) Excellent race in less than excellent conditions! And, excellent mindset for realizing that every race has it's purpose and the real goal is to keep your eyes on the BIG race. That is so dang hard for me - so thanks for being a great example!

kerri said...

TOUCHE Sista!!! NEXT ON DECK and away we go! You put another smile on my face this morning.

Kellye Mills said...

Great Job! Overall win in your category and in the series...that is pretty tough stuff! And I think you called it on the wheel just right. Think about how mad you'd be at yourself if you'd ridden it and had to ride non-aero the whole time!

Congratulations and keep looking to St. Croix. You're going to be so strong for that race!!