Last Minute Time Trial

>> Saturday, August 03, 2013

I got an e-mail from my brother-in-law Matt on Tuesday. He said he was going to do the "Tuesday Night Time Trial" (TNT) that evening, and he invited me along. I told him I was 95% sure I'd miss it, but I'd get my stuff set out just in case it worked out.

A few hours later, I sent him a text saying "I'm on my way!"

The "TNT" is 11 miles of rolling hills in the far western suburbs. I did the TNT once in 2009, and twice in 2010 (here and here). But it had been over 3 years since my last TNT. And being I was complaining about not feeling great on the bike in my Waseca Triathlon race report earlier this week, I knew I could use some hard riding. (Get your mind out of the gutter.)

A few years ago, they switched the course. Well, TECHNICALLY it's the same course, but they did the out-and-back race from the other direction. This was my first time doing it "backwards." I knew I was getting close to the new starting line when I started seeing lots of this:

I got signed up, said hi to a few friends, found Matt, and started a little warm up. Matt was going off as number 11, and I wasn't starting until over 30 minutes after him as number 75. (This TT has riders start every 30 seconds.) Here's number 5, 6, and 7 ready to go:

Chris H being held for the start, with Matt right behind him.
(Notice the iPad on the music stand that displayed your name and your 30 sec countdown.)

Matt getting up to speed 2 seconds after being "released."

Trying out his NEW BIKE!

I got in line and saw Matt come to the finish. He said conditions were good, but the air felt a little "thick" while working so hard. I did one more quick spin to make sure I was in an appropriate gear for starting the TT, and got back in line.

A 7 year old girl hanging out with the starter asked why I had so many colors on my handlebars and called them weird. "No, YOU'RE weird, little girl!" ... is what I should have said. I got my count down and I took off. Barely. Remember how I JUST said that I made sure I was "in an appropriate gear for starting?" Well I wasn't. I was in a gear that was a bit to hard. Too slow of a start. Damn.

I took off hard. I stared at 25+ mph for a while on my computer. Then the hills started. I knew there were hills so I wasn't surprised, but they still sucked.

• AVERAGE AFTER 1/4: 22.7 mph. That was fine. I had hoped for a little better, but like at the Waseca Triathlon, my legs just were NOT feeling the bike. Oh, and I guess that triathlon WAS just 2 days before this TT. So I may have been a little tired yet.

There was a big downhill as we came up to the turn around. This was the hill that we used to start off going up, and now it was smack-dab in the middle of our TT. Here's a photo from a few years back showing 3 bikers heading off from the old start (now the half-way point):

• AVERAGE AT THE TURN-AROUND: 23.0 mph. My best TNT was a 23.01 mph average, but I was 99.9% sure I wouldn't be able to do that. The next few minutes would be spent climbing that hill and watching my average fall.

• AVERAGE AT THE 3/4 MARK: 22.6 mph. When I was at the 3/4 mark, I was nearing the top of a little climb, but I still had a little more climbing to go. I knew this wasn't true, but I kept TRYING to tell myself "it's all downhill to the finish from here!" I glanced at my Garmin one last time when I finally got up that hill, and it "bottomed out" at 22.4 mph. Time to see how much of that I could get back!

I hammered pretty hard at the 3/4 point, and I was pretty happy with my decision making. I was going to finished hashed, but I wasn't going to be sprinting (too much left) OR dragging my ass for the last 4 miles (too hard too soon). I rode this pretty "smart."

Matt spotted me coming around the final curve in the distance:

Straining for air.

A bit of a grimace.

About to go past a giant orange cone or possible a small orange child.
(All of those people are the finish line.)

Rolling back to Matt, somehow smiling after that.

•AVERAGE AT THE FINISH: 22.7 mph. Super unofficially, I went "out" in 14:10, and made it “back” in 14:30. (That's based on when the big "slow down" is on my Garmin data at the turn around.)


Steve Stenzel
22.77 mph
56th out of 85 overall
17 out of 23 in the 30-39 age group

Matt Linder
23.58 mph
43rd out of 85 overall
7 out of 7 in the 20-29 age group

That's technically my 2nd fastest TNT, but I didn't feel that great about it. (It was the first using my wife's front 404, so that helped my speed...) My other averages were 23.01, 22.65, and 22.54.

Matt was nearly exactly a minute faster than me, but he was LAST in his age group. There are a lot of speedy 20 year olds in Minnesota!

IF YOU KNOW A BIT ABOUT BIKING, PLEASE TELL ME (AND MATT) WHAT THIS FOLLOWING GRAPH SAYS TO YOU. Here's Matt's and my Garmin data overlapped (because we're both "numbers nerds"). Matt's blue, I'm green, and the elevation is in purple:

Things I see:

- Matt's 220 lb frame helps him bomb down (nearly) every hill faster than my 156 lb body. Matt is sometimes referred to as "220 lbs of pure sex." I'm not sure why.

- Matt slowed up more at the turn around, but I wonder if it just took him longer to get up to speed so the Garmin registered it as "slower."

- The biggest place where I gained on Matt is going up that hill after the turn-around. It looks as if I stayed a mile or 2 faster than him up that. Then I was faster about 3/4 of the way through on a climb and on the following downhill - that's when I was really trying to hammer. But that hammering took it out of me, and Matt "pulled away" a bit more at the end.

- Overall, it's interesting to note that all of those peaks where Matt's faster than me only add up to 60 seconds.

The last Tuesday Night Time Trial for the year is in 10 days. I probably won't race it, but Matt might be there again. That TNT is just a few days before Matt and his fiancée do their first Olympic distance triathlon at the Lake Marion Triathlon in Lakeville! I hope to be racing the sprint distance along side of them.


Dan Jones,  6:42 PM, August 03, 2013  


The graph indicates to me that Matt is better than you. If you want to beat him then push harder on the pedals.

That is all.

Steve Stenzel 8:04 PM, August 03, 2013  

Ha! Thanks Dan. That's what Matt told me too.... :)

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