Home > Founders > TT Season recap : Part 1

You may recall my season long recap from last year’s time trial season. It was a successful first venture into competitive bike racing, in which I finished second overall for the season long race for the NJBA TT Cup and it encouraged me to pursue it further. Last year, I raced in the Non-TT class, which was an open class for the NJBA TT Cup. Most of the race classes are divided up based on cyclist’s road racing categories, with the TT class being divided into a Cat 4/5 class and a Cat 1/2/3 class. This means that riders are more likely to be racing against other riders that are more likely to have similar experience levels. The Non-TT class was open, though, which means that everyone, regardless of road-racing category was put into the same class. Setting up the class this way meant that there was always enough riders in the class, but also meant that there was a pretty wide range of ability levels and speeds represented. For the 2017 race season, the NJBA decided to split the Non-TT class into a Cat 1/2/3 “A” class and a Cat 4/5 “B” class. This left me with a difficult decision, which class do I race? With just four mass start races under my belt, one of which wasn’t a USAC race (so it doesn’t count towards my upgrade), I’m still firmly a Cat 5, but I also had a full season of TT racing experience and finished 2nd in the class last year. The general rule of thumb is that the rider who wins the Cat 4/5 TT class would move up to race the Cat 1/2/3 TT class even if they were still a Cat 4 or 5. I decided to look closer at the results from last season and see how I was actually matching up against the guys that were 1/2/3 racers and when I did that, I saw that I was consistently 30-45 seconds off the fast guys when they showed up and that the fact that I consistently attended races was really the reason why I finished well for the season.
To prep for the season, I decided to make a few equipment changes based on some things that I experienced last season. First, let’s talk about some changes I made to the bike. Last season, I realized that I didn’t quite have enough gearing on some of the downward pitches on some of the courses. I was using a 50-34 crank and it just wasn’t big enough. I still wanted to maintain some general road riding use, so I didn’t go huge, but I bumped it up to a 52-36 crank. I also swapped the brakes from standard Durance 9000 brakes to ee brakes and the cables from standard cables to Jagwire elite link cables, which allowed me to clean up the routing of the cables and get them out of the wind as much as possible.
I also sold my S-Works TT helmet and picked up the Giro Aerohead Ultimate TT helmet. The reasons for doing so were two fold. One, the S-Works TT sizing was a little weird and the helmet I had was a touch too big, so it would tilt down and effect my vision. Two, the Giro Aerohead Ultimate seems to be a better shape for my riding position. I also got some new, custom Crank Addicts skin suits courtesy of Pactimo. At the end of last summer, they had an awesome promotion, which bypassed their minimum quantity requirements for skin suits, so I grabbed both a short sleeve skin suit and a long sleeve skin suit.

Cape May TT

Course Data:
7.5 mile out and back course with 24′ of elevation gain.

Equipment Data:
2015 Specialized Venge Pro, DuraAce 9000 components, Yoeleo Superlight SAT 88mm x 25mm C88 wheels, Specialized S-Works Turbo Cotton 24C tires, Giro Aerohead Ultimate TT helmet, Pactimo Custom Crank Addicts skin suit, VeloToze Aero shoe covers.

Race Report:
Just like last year, the Cape May TT was the first race of my season. Sandy Hook was supposed to be the week before, but they cancelled the race due to rain and high winds. I started the week doing my final training prep, with some harder interval sessions and longer endurance sessions. On Wednesday, I did the Hb Wednesday night Cranford ride and knew that it would be my last hard session of the week, so that I could rest and recover and be ready for the TT on Sunday.
I got down to Cape May a little bit later than I expected, but I was able to get set up and do a pretty good warm up. My start time was 8:07:30, so I set an alarm to stop my warm up at 8:00 so that I could get the bike off the Feedback Sports Omnium trainer, dry my face, put my helmet on and get over to the start line. My game plan for the TT was 300 watts. As I got into start position and the clock counted down to my start, I took a few deep breathes and was ready for the effort. When the countdown hit 0, I launched and did my usual sprint start to get up to speed as quickly as possible. Some people prefer to start slowly and let the effort build, but I feel like its better to get up to speed as fast as possible because that sprint isn’t as painful and you can usually recover without it hurting your long term endurance for the rest of the effort. As I settled into the ride and found my rhythm, I realized that I was a touch high on the power. I was really turning over the gear and it wasn’t hurting so I just went with it. My ‘out’ segment averaged 310 watts. I passed 3 or 4 guys that had started ahead of me with the final one coming just before the turn around. I actually put in a little bit harder effort just before the turn around point, to make sure that I could clear the rider and take the turn without my choice of line being effected. The return leg of the course was painful. I realized that there was a small head wind now coming back and figured that’s why the ‘out’ leg felt so fast and I was turning the gear over so well. I was a little bit low on power coming home, averaging just 293 watts, but still managed to kick it up to 350 watts for the final km of the course, making sure that I got every ounce of energy out.
I cooled down with a couple of laps of the Cape May Zoo parking area and then headed back to the Start/Finish line to watch and cheer on my friend and fellow Crank Addict, Dave Phimsipasom, who was racing in the Men’s Open Class TT. As he came to the line, I could see that he was digging real deep and putting in a good effort. We rolled around for a little while to cool down and then got changed to watch for the times to be posted.
I was super stoked to see that I had won the Non-TT Cat 4/5 class with a time of 17:09, more than a minute faster than I had gone the previous year.

Time: 17:09
Speed: 25.6 mph
Heart Rate: 182 bpm
Power: 301 watts

Allamuchy TT

Course Data:
7.9 mile combination out and back/circuit style TT with 56′ of elevation gain.

Equipment Data:
2015 Specialized Venge Pro, DuraAce 9000 components, Yoeleo Superlight SAT 88mm x 25mm C88 wheels, Specialized S-Works Turbo Cotton 24C tires, Giro Aerohead Ultimate TT helmet, Pactimo Custom Crank Addicts skin suit, VeloToze Aero shoe covers.

Race Report:
Just like last year, the parking lot for the Allamuchy TT was about a 2.5 miles ride from the actual start line. One of the most important things I’ve learned in the last year or so is that being early and prepared is a huge benefit. It is difficult to get into a rhythm and find your groove if you’re rushed and behind schedule. This knowledge, combined with the extra time it takes to get to the start, means that I got to the parking lot at 7:00 am for my 8:24 start time. I had plenty of time to get over to registration, get my stuff set up and get in a proper warm up before heading over to the start line. The start list for this race was huge with over 30 riders registered and I was slotted to start about mid-field. I got over to the start line with about 2 or 3 minutes to go and got into race mode. The holder grabbed my saddle and balanced me so I could get clipped in as the starter counted down to my start time. When clock hit zero, I was off, doing my usual sprint to get up to speed as quickly as possible. I saw a maximum of 1024 watts before settling down into a steady pace. I was feeling really good as I hit the first right turn and caught my first rider shortly after. I believe that I caught 2 or 3 more riders before the turn around but I’m not 100% sure. After the turn around, it almost felt like a different race to me. At this point, I was beginning to feel the burn in my legs, my heart rate was drifting upward and it seemed that it was getting harder and harder to maintain the power level I wanted. At one point, in the left hard turn thats at the bottom of the course, I was really feeling it. My legs felt like concrete and just didn’t want to turn over. All of this, I think was a result of a slightly different training schedule in the week leading up to the race. As I made the final right hand turn, back onto Long Bridge road, I did my best to gather up and put in a final push to the finish line. I was definitely hurting. When I got back to the car and saved my Garmin ride, I was able to check the Strava files and saw that I was slower than last year, which confused me a little bit because even though I was suffering, I still felt like I was moving at a faster speed. When the race results were posted, I saw that I had finished in 2nd place with a time of 18:27.98 with the first place rider, Dan Montgomery (my 30 second man) finishing with a time of 18:27.60, just .38 seconds faster than me.
Being so close to first place was definitely tough to deal with, but I was happy to still grab second place when I wasn’t at my best. When I got home, and was able to dig deeper into the data on the computer, I saw that the reason my time was slower was that I was looking at the 2016 TT segment. The 2016 course had actually been shortened by about a quarter mile at the far end to avoid some potholes. This year, the course was back to the full length and some of the riders even thought that some length had been added at the finish so that racers finished at the top of a small rise. By the numbers, my power output was down compared to last year, 287 watts vs. 301 watts, but my speed was more than 1 mph faster, which I think can be attributed to better aerodynamics of my setup from wheels, cables, skin suit and helmet and also my ability to stay tucked into a more aerodynamic position for longer periods of time.

Time: 18:27.98
Speed: 25.6 mph
Heart Rate: 179 bpm
Power: 287 watts

allamuchy TT1 low-rez Allamuchy TT2 low-rez

Chrono Vino TT

Course Data:
13.2 mile circuit style course with 56′ of elevation
Equipment Data:
2015 Specialized Venge Pro, DuraAce 9000 components, Yoeleo Superlight SAT 88mm x 25mm C88 wheels, Specialized S-Works Turbo Cotton 24C tires, Giro Aerohead Ultimate TT helmet, Pactimo Custom Crank Addicts skin suit, VeloToze Aero shoe covers.

Race Report:
Ugh! Where do I even start with this race? It was a race of lessons learned and lots of humble pie.
The weather conditions were wet on the morning of the race. It had just finished raining as the race started, so the course was still very wet and the air was very humid. The Chrono Vino is one of the few courses that use a start ramp and the rider that started directly in front of me crashed going off the ramp. To be honest it was terrifying to watch. I’m not exactly sure how it happened, but I suspect that he was in the wrong gear and simply couldn’t get the pedals turning over as he started to roll and once he got off balance, he couldn’t correct himself. If the shock from seeing that happen in front of me wasn’t enough, the holder and other race officials were attending to him as the starter started me, so I had no one to hold me or help me get going. Needless to say, it probably wasn’t the fastest TT start in the history of time trials. Fortunately, I made it off the ramp in better shape than the rider in front of me, but I should’ve realized at that point that this was going to be a tough race with a few surprises up its sleeve.
With no rider starting directly in front of me, the next person up the rode was my teammate Simon Huang, who started one minute ahead of me. This was just Simon’s second time trial, so I thought maybe I’d be able to catch him, but I honestly wasn’t positive or sure how quickly it would happen if it did. He’s a fast guy with big power in his legs and a flatter course like this would suit him well. Just as I suspected, it took a while to reel him in, but I could see that I was gradually catching him as we headed down the twisty stretch of road that leads down to the lower right corner on the map above.
When I turned onto the long straight stretch, I was feeling good, but my helmet was fogging slightly due to the weather conditions. The road was beginning to dry out a little and I could tell that I was moving fast. I had caught a few more riders and that’s when the Chrono Vino threw me for a final loop. You can see from the map above that I missed a turn and continued on straight. I actually went more than a mile out of the way before I realized it and turned around. There are a few issues that resulted in this happening, i.e. no marshal at the turn when we came through and inconsistent markings for the turn compared to the rest of the turns on course, but ultimately, the one and only fault lies with me. I didn’t know the course well enough and missed a turn. Even with all of those other things, if I had known the course properly, I would have made the turn and been fine. Instead, I messed up and ended up more then 5 minutes off the pace, finishing in 8th. At the time, I was pretty pissed and wanted to lay blame with others, but now, I realize that it was a sign that I need to prepare more and know the course better. Using Strava, I was able to break down my segment times and it seems that I would have been on track to win by 40-45 seconds. The one comforting thought I can take from that is that my training is working and I was able to turn a pretty fast time on a course that was on the longer side of the ones we race.

Time: 36:14.11
Speed: 25.9 mph
Heart Rate: 178 bpm
Power: 280 watts

High Point Hill Climb TT

Course Data:
5.3 mile hill climb course with 1230′ of climbing.
Equipment Data:
Specialized S-Works Allez, DuraAce 9000 components, Yoeleo Superlight SAT 50mm x 25mm C50 wheels, Vittoria Corsa G+ 25c tires, Specialized S-Works Evade helmet, Pactimo Custom Crank Addicts skin suit, VeloToze Aero shoe covers.

Race Report:
The forth race of the season, found me back at the High Point hill climb. Admittedly, this race isn’t the most suited for me, but just as I was last year, I was determined to show up, give it my best shot and score as many points toward the cup as I could. This year, I also decided to make some equipment changes to see how it would effect my time. One of the age old debates in cycling is, weight vs. aerodynamics. The conventional thinking in cycling is that lightweight trumps aerodynamics, especially when going uphill, but the new-age sports scientists and cycling researchers seem to be placing more and more emphasis on aerodynamics. Last year, I used my Venge, opting for aero. This year, I decided to use my S-Works Allez, which even though it is aluminum, is about 3/4 of a pound lighter than my Venge.
Just like last year, I chose to warm up down at the bottom of the hill, so I got to the start line on time and ready to go. The start list had me as the second starter for the Men’s Non-TT B group and I knew that the rider starting directly in front of me would give it a pretty good go. I use my power meter and power numbers for pacing but its always good to have rider in front to act as a rabbit for the chase. I was gradually catching him the whole climb, and it wasn’t until the steep pitch at about the 4.7 mile point that I actually passed him because he dropped his chain, just as we got to the steepest section. My pacing strategy was similar to last year, to go pretty steady on the first half of the course, but not at my limit and then continue to push hard on the flat section in the middle, when I thought that many people would be taking some time to recover. This year, I wanted to make sure that I put in a really good effort in the final rolling section and looking at my times, I was actually going faster through this section than I had the previous year.
Looking at my numbers and comparing them to last year, I was about 30 seconds slower, even though I had put out 10 more watts than last year. Obviously there are some possible environmental influences here, but it seems as if the aero gains of the Venge outweigh the light weight of the Allez, at least for a climb of this length.

Time: 23:51.00
Speed: 13.5 mph
Heart Rate: 182 bpm
Power: 300 watts


Kingwood TT

Course Data:
10.0 mile point to point course with 67′ of elevation gain.

Equipment Data:
2015 Specialized Venge Pro, DuraAce 9000 components, Yoeleo Superlight SAT 88mm x 25mm C88 wheels, Specialized S-Works Turbo Cotton 24C tires, Giro Aerohead Ultimate TT helmet, Pactimo Custom Crank Addicts skin suit, VeloToze Aero shoe covers.

Race Report:
I raced this course two times last year, since it is used for the Kingwood TT and the Rt. 29 TT, so I was eager to get back again this year and see what I could do with that extra experience. The course could be considered basically flat or even slightly downhill, but it does have some small false flat sections that require you to push hard to keep your power where you want it.
The weather conditions for this race were great. It was warm, but not too hot and there was very little wind if any. I wasn’t sure I’d be racing this event at the start of the week, so I hadn’t fully prepared for it, but at the last minute my schedule changed and allowed me to race. Adding this race to my schedule, would mean that I’d have enough races at the end of the season to be able to drop the Chrono Vino race from my season long points count. Despite not being totally prepared, I felt good for the race. I was turning the pedals over well and the extra gearing that I added prior to the start of the season seemed to make a difference on the long drawn out flat/downhill sections of this course. At the mid-way point, I did start to feel the burn in my legs and I tried to ignore it and stay focused on keeping low and as aero as I could. After a few minutes, I seemed to get past it and the power numbers began to come up again.

Time: 22:26.41
Speed: 26.8 mph
Heart Rate: 184 bpm
Power: 274 watts


Wrap up
The first half of the season was a roller coaster of events and emotions. My placings were 1st, 2nd, 8th, 6th and 1st. Unfortunately, I missed the Somerset Circuit TT which I think is a course that suits me well with its rolling terrain and the Upper Freehold TT, another course that I think suits me well, was cancelled due to some conflicts between Monmouth county and USA cycling over insurance coverage. Over the course of the second half of the season, I’ll be hitting the Rt. 29 TT, The Oldman’s TT, Sandrino’s Sacrifice TT, The EDDY TT (Non-TT State Championship Race), the Blueberry TT, the Flanders TT and finally the Silvermine TT. I’m excited to race some courses again that I raced last year and to put some times down for some new courses. I’ll definitely learn from the experiences in the first half of the season and make sure that I do my homework and prep.

The race photos are taken by Sergio Garabito, Jan Curran and Rebecca Henasey. Thank you so much for coming out to the races and taking great pics.

I’d like to give a special shoutout to the companies that are supporting myself and the rest of the Crank Addicts this season, Hilltop Bikes, Piermont Bike, Skratchlabs and Pactimo.