The 2013 Trinona Time Trial: STRAIGHT UP for 3 Miles

>> Monday, June 10, 2013

OK, so it's not ALL uphill, and it's not STRAIGHT uphill. But look at this:

But it WAS brutal. In a fun way. Athletes will understand that.

The Trinona Triathlon is in it's 5th year. And last year, they started hosting a time trial (TT) bike race the night before the triathlon. It goes for just over a mile along the flat frontage road, and then it turns up Garvin Heights: one of Bicycling Magazine's "Top 100 Climbs in the US."

Map of the 3.5 mile TT.

Sugar Loaf (the giant boulder / cliff) above the start of the TT.

Rockin' the Tutti Frutti shorts and my Sony Action Cam on my head.

I got this camera months ago, but I never really tried it out! So I played around with it a bit on Saturday morning, and then zip-tied it to my helmet. I wanted to see if it could capture the bluff really well. Here's the video from the start that I posted yesterday:

Direct link:

Unfortunately, I mounted the camera a little too far forward on my helmet, and it ended up being pointed down a little too far. Most of the video looks like this:


As you can tell in that video above, I was the #2 racer (just behind one of the sponsors who was #1). I headed off after him just 30 seconds back. He was my "rabbit" and the rabbit for all the other racers: if anyone beat his time, they got a special swag bag!

I rode along the flats and just pushed it hard for that section. I glanced down near the base of the hill to see a 25.6 mph average! I was thrilled with that. I hit the lap button on my watch as I turned up the hill to the roar of the crowd:

They were excited to see me. Or not.

Checking my first lap split as I started the hill.

Attacking the hill with the "rabbit" way up there (behind a pace car).

According to my Garmin, I rode the first flat segment with a 25.1 mph average!!

I had some good news and bad news when I turned onto the hill. The good news was that I thought I'd be able to stay seated for the majority of the hill - that's easier on the body and doesn't feel as bad. Last year when I rode up the hill as part of the Trinona Triathlon, I had to stand the entire way, and that was killer. The bad news is that I couldn't shift into my "granny gear!" I was one gear up from granny the entire time! Oh well... just ride.

I wasn't riding crooked - I was just rocking back and forth a lot up that hill.

Around half way up, gaining a BIT on #1 up there (at the top of the image)!

There were spectators dotting the side of the road here-and-there. A lot of people cheered for my shorts. Here's a shot as we were nearing the turn-off, and I was gaining on the #1 biker so much that I was thinking I MIGHT be able to pass him before the end:

The lead car and first biker just a few seconds in front of me.

The CLOSEST I got to the lead biker up the final, nasty little climb. (See his wheels at the top?)
This was the ONLY time I had to get out of my saddle - I was happy about that.

Cresting the top of the hill, putting my head down, and "gutting-out" some speed!

Once we got over that final steep hill, there was still about a half mile to the finish. But it's like my legs didn't work - we were on some flats, but I just couldn't churn out any speed. It was brutal.

We made one final little turn FOR A LITTLE DOWNHILL right to the finish line. Pharmie was up at the finish, and she got a photo of the lead biker coming around the corner.

I was gasping for air just a few seconds behind him:

See the camera mounted too far forward? And it was just made worse by the weight of it pulling my
helmet down even more. It got a little annoying, but if I mount it farther back, it should be fine.

Into the chute, about to cross the line.

We rode into the parking lot for the Garvin Heights Scenic Overlook and had to brake pretty quick. I looped around a few times to catch my breath, and the #1 biker and I high-fived as we were still riding around:

I took off partway down the hill to cheer and to take more video, and you'll see some of that video in the next week or so. So stop back! Pharmie spotted me coming as I easily biked back towards the finish line:

We chatted with some spectators and volunteers for a while, and then made it back to the parking lot at the very top of the hill for some post-race festivities.

Looking down over Winona and the Mississippi River. The little orange fence on the edge
of the lake to the left was the swim start for Trinona Triathlon the next day.

They had pizza and wine. Let me repeat that: PIZZA AND WINE!!

Katherine (TT director), Garrett (the winner), and Andrew (the sponsor and his girls)
all with bottles of wine for the winner! (The winner was 93 seconds faster than me.)

They do something fun at this time trial: they pick someone to be "the rabbit" as I mentioned at the start of this post, and anyone who beats that person gets some goodies. Last year, the Trinona Triathlon race director Dave was the rabbit. This year, it was Andrew Dahl: biker #1 and owner of "Dahl Toyota" in Winona. When I finished, I knew I was faster than him because I had closed the gap to under 30 seconds (he started 30 seconds in front of me, but only finished about 15 seconds in front of me). But I didn't know how fast we'd be compared to everyone else. I figured I'd be lucky to break into the top half because a lot of serious bikers are drawn to this time trial. But out of 74 racers, I actually finished 14th!! That's in the top 20%! Andrew Dahl came in 21st, so the top 20 won some extra gear. Here's the top 20 swag winners along with Andrew and his girls in the middle:

The swag bag that we're all holding had some sweet stuff in it:

- a box of 24 gels
- a Spinervals DVD
- a small Nalgene bottle
- a free oil change at Dahl Toyota
- 2 bottles of J.R. Watkins foot cream
- a sweet Trinona pint glass
- LOTS of other small items (Trinona can koozie, window cling, etc)

And all of the divisional winners got bottles of wine!


Steve Stenzel, #2, St. Paul, MN

12:27.40 for 3.5 miles
16.8 mph average

14 out of 74 overall (98 registered)
10 out of 32 in the "open male" division

Garmin Results:
- 25.1 mph average for the opening flat section
- 10.9 mph average for the hill section (including the final flat section and downhill to the finish)
- 28.3 mph fastest speed
- 6.8 mph slowest speed
- 15.2 mph average speed

My Garmin elevation chart: 1.5 miles flat, and then 500 feet of climbing over the next mile!

The little burst of speed around 2.5 miles is when we turned off the road and had lots of spectators.
Then then last slow down after that was the nasty little hill where I finally had to stand.

To compare that hill to Garmin data from St. Paul: Ohio Hill is 0.42 miles and climbs 150 feet, and Ramsey Hill is about 0.24 miles and climbs 120 feet. So it's steeper than Ohio, but not as steep as Ramsey, and it's over 4 times longer than Ramsey. Fun stuff. :)


- Notice I was 10th in the open division but 14th overall. I was beat by 2 men who were 60 and a 65 years old. Beasts. I want to be like them when I grow up.

- Months ago, there was talk that *I* might be "the rabbit" for this TT. But I didn't know how fast I'd be, and I didn't want to let the race director down. That'd be a LOT of pressure for me: "Steve, don't be too slow or we'll have to give too much stuff away!" (In the end, it made a LOT of sense to have one of the sponsors be the rabbit - the faster he is, the less stuff he has to give away! Ha!) I'm happy to see that IF I would have been the rabbit, I would have done just fine! I even had to check last years results, and I found that I was 20 seconds faster than Dave "the rabbit" last year. MAYBE next year I can be the rabbit for the Trinona TT! We'll see! :)

- All the hill riding I've been doing lately really paid off! I don't have a ton of cycling endurance right now, but I'm good with something short and hilly. There's a common saying that will reappear often in the BeginnerTriathlete forums when people ask about getting better / faster at something. The saying goes like this: "Want to get better at riding hills? Then ride more hills." Duh. And that worked well for me over the last 3 months. I think I've only had flat rides once or twice early this spring, and 95% of all other rides have had at least one monster climb. It paid off. Two weeks ago, I was climbing the hill from the Yacht Club by 35E and the Mississippi up to Hwy 13, and I thought "Hey... this seems a LOT easier today..."

Back with more video of the other Time Trial-ers along with photos from Pharmie at the Trinona Triathlon shortly! Check back!


Katherine Schlaefer 2:33 PM, June 10, 2013  
This comment has been removed by the author.
TriNorthMN 3:34 PM, June 10, 2013  


I have been tinkering with a ContourRoam camera biking for the last couple years. I have found some tips and tricks that might work for you to get better video overall. Let me know if you are interested.

Jeremy Reichenberger 12:37 PM, June 11, 2013  

Totally wanna do this next year (if I get any better at biking, that is.)

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