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Heads of Tails TT - Cycle

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Beaumont, Texas
United States
58F / 14C
Total Time = 1h 05m 4s
Overall Rank = 2/18
Age Group = Women Cat 4/5
Age Group Rank = 1/7
Pre-race routine:

I got a new bike about a month ago and wanted to get it out for a race before Galveston 70.3. The motivator for this race was to get the new bike out and also to get a baseline for my current fitness, as I know it's dropped off some since my peak last season.

My old race wheel was a 10-speed, which needed to be converted to an 11-speed. I ordered the necessary stuff to make it happen, but the cassette was back-ordered, though I was unaware until early in the week leading up to the race. I talked with Trisports and they were able to source another one and get it sent to me on Friday. Nothing like waiting till the last moment to get my gear ready ;)

Because of this, I had some weird issues (almost certainly caused by operator error) that would not allow me to get the wheel lined up such that it was not rubbing on the rear brake at least a little bit. But good to know now, instead of at a bigger race!

And, of course, I can't leave out my pre-race drink from my race report :) I had a doppelbock aged in brandy barrels from one of our local breweries! I slept well the night before the race, got up and had some steel cut oats with a scoop of protein powder for breakfast, and sipped on water leading up to the race.

Event warmup:

Race morning was chilly and the wind was picking up. My start time was 10:35am, but I got there shortly after 8am. Picked up my bibs and timing chip, and then hung out in my car for about an hour. Then I set up my trainer and hopped on for a good warm-up about 9:15am. I ended up doing a 50' warm-up with 20' easy, 10x20" @ 110%, 10' easy, 5x30" @ 100%, 5' easy, which put me just after 10am, and what I figured was plenty of time to put the race wheels on and head over to the race start (a few minutes away).

Unfortunately, I could not get the wheel lined up and it was rubbing on something (I couldn't figure out what at the time, but later realized it was the rear brake). All I knew was that it wasn't spinning freely and I was running out of time....I was contemplating pulling the race wheels off and putting the training wheels back on, when I finally decided to just jump on the bike and see how bad it was. Turned out, it didn't seem too bad, so I said "screw it!" and headed over to the race start.

Because of all the time I screwed around with the wheel, I managed to show up at race start just as the girl who was scheduled to go one minute after me was up on the ramp, getting ready to start. I frantically asked them if I would be allowed to race....and they directed me over to the side of the ramp. I asked if I was not going to be allowed to start on the ramp, and they said I would not....I asked if this was my penalty for missing my race start, and they said it was. That sucks, but not the end of the world...

  • 1h 05m 4s
  • 40 kms
  • 36.89 km/hr

At the end of the season last year, my (calculated) FTP was up just over 200W. I'd been struggling through workouts based on this FTP, so I dropped it down to about 190W. In the weeks leading up to this race, I'd done some threshold rides, holding this power for up to 40 minutes, so I was relatively confident that I could hold it for the duration of the race. Marc agreed, so the power target for this race was high-180's to low-190's. I knew there would be EIGHT u-turns on the course, so I was hoping that these wouldn't skew my power too much....I'm not particularly confident with u-turns, as the new bike has "toe overlap" (where the wheel can hit my toe when my foot is at the 3 / 9 o'clock position).

I got started and settled into my power pretty quickly. I started around 188W and bumped it up by about a watt per loop. I got out to the far end and saw what the first U-turn looked was wide enough that I could do it without really having the turn the bars, but mostly by leaning the bike, which meant that the toe overlap concern was not going to be an issue for this turn.

Heading back toward the start/finish, you initially went up a small hill (these hills are from underpasses, so not really a hill, but a short incline) and then found the headwind. To be honest, I didn't really notice the headwind all that much (though many others were complaining about it) because I never once looked at my speed, and simply focused on my power....and the power hurts the same, regardless of wind, speed, whatever :)

As I was nearing in on the other u-turn, I noticed that there was some gravel/dirt leading into it, and it was a lot tighter than the one at the other end. I didn't come out of my big chainring, but slowed down a lot more and came out of the saddle to get back up to speed when coming out of the corner. I crossed the timing mat as I came through and was feeling pretty confident that I could hold this power for the rest of the race.

Second, third, and fourth loops were all pretty the far end of the third loop, I noticed a person closing in on me and it became my goal to not get passed. Starting the fourth lap, I hit the "lap" button on my Garmin and told myself I would hold more than 190W. I was really proud of myself, as I kept the power up in the mid-190's.

Unfortunately, the person I'd seen on the third loop passed me toward the end of the fourth loop....and it was a girl! When she pulled in front of me, my power dropped by about 20W, so I moved out from her draft zone and settled back into my power. I held strong for the rest of the lap and crossed the finish line, happy with my power output, but not feeling completely I'm pretty sure I had more in me, physically, but I think I would have struggled mentally to convince myself I could hold that kind of power.

In the end, I held 190W (NP and AP were identical!), which is the most I've held over this distance. Unfortunately, with eight u-turns and somewhat rough roads (oh, and apparently wind!), this was the slowest 40k TT I've ever done. I also think my rear brake was rubbing a bit....not sure how much impact it would have had on my speed, but I suspect there was probably some.

Since we crossed the timing mat each loop, I got splits for each one -- they were 16:34 (didn't get to start on the ramp or pre-clipped in), 16:12, 16:20 (not sure why this was slower...), and 15:58 (bumped up power by a few watts and earned myself some time!).

What would you do differently?:

Get to my race start on time, be confident that I can hold (a little) more power than I think I can

So here's the sucky part....I missed my race start and was penalized by not being allowed to start on the ramp, pre-clipped into my pedals. When they posted results, I saw that I was 1st in my category by over a minute. When they announced awards, they called me 2nd....the girl who was announced as 1st and I were both confused and we both pulled out our phones to show that there was a mistake that was made. They discussed it internally and then told me that I was given a two minute penalty for missing my race start, so not only was I penalized by not getting to start on the ramp, I was also given a time penalty. I get's my responsibility to get to the race start on time, so I'm not going to fight it, but I do think it was kind of BS to get double penalized for this. Starting on the ramp probably would have saved me about 20 seconds (given my splits), so the two minute penalty would still have resulted in me being 2nd, but it would have been close!

Oh, and the results I listed were from the original-posted, actual times, not the penalized time. Also, the overall placement is based on women only.

Post race
Warm down:

Just did about 10 minutes of easy riding before packing stuff up, changing into dry clothing, and then eating/drinking a bit

What limited your ability to perform faster:

EIGHT u-turns, rough roads, rear brake rubbing, and confidence to shoot for a higher power target

Event comments:

This race is kind of neat because they have a TT, 5k, half marathon, full marathon, and some strongman competition going on at the same time. The full marathon appeared to be VERY lonely (like there were a handful of people out on the four loop course....there were more people racing the 40k TT at the same time than running the marathon). It seemed to be well-organized, but I wish the photographers had taken pictures throughout the full morning (there are none from those of us who started after 10am or so), and I do think the double penalty is a bit much.

Last updated: 2017-03-06 12:00 AM
01:05:04 | 40 kms | 36.89 km/hr
Age Group: 1/7
Overall: 2/18
Performance: Average
Wind: Strong
Course: Four loop course with EIGHT u-turns
Road: Rough Dry Cadence:
Turns: Below average Cornering:
Gear changes: Below average Hills:
Race pace: Hard Drinks: Just right
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Average
Mental exertion [1-5] 4
Physical exertion [1-5] 3
Good race? Ok
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks?
Post race activities: Below average
Race evaluation [1-5] 3

2017-03-08 4:03 PM

User image

Houston, Texas
Subject: Heads of Tails TT

2017-03-08 4:40 PM
in reply to: #5215432

User image

Austin, Texas
Subject: RE: Heads of Tails TT

Great job on the output!  Target 190 and hit it for AP and NP?  That's a great TT!  Must give you some confidence that you're getting right back to your previous season's FTP, I'd think - especially if you didn't feel spent at the end of the ride.

Bummer on the penalty, for sure.  At least you aren't dependent on the winnings to buy beer!

Where do you hope your FTP is by Galveston?  Is Marc formally coaching you, or more providing expert advice?

Also, where is this event?  Houston proper?  Sounds like a kind of whacky day, with all those different competitions at once...

Again, congrats on a well executed race.



2017-03-09 12:31 PM
in reply to: mcmanusclan5

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Houston, Texas
Subject: RE: Heads of Tails TT

Galveston is three weeks away....let's be honest -- the hay is in the barn for that one!  But I'm hoping to hold in the low-160's for that race, so slightly more aggressive than the 80%

I have another 40k TT in May, which is an A race for me.  For that race, I'd like to be north of 200W for the distance.  My current power to weight ration is just about 3.6 W/kg, so 200W will put me just over 3.7 W/kg.  That's pretty respectable, I think   I'm hoping my time in the May race will be in the 60-61 minute range, but I do need to dial in aerodynamics between now and then.

This race was in's on one of the freeway feeder roads, right by Lamar College.


Marc's been coaching me since July of 2015.  I've made good progress with him....hoping to be knocking on the sub-5 hour door at Galveston.  May not quite be there, as I had a slow start to the season and he's purposely not cramming fitness into me since my A (triathlon) race is in of the game is staying healthy and hungry

2017-03-10 4:44 PM
in reply to: ligersandtions

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Austin, Texas
Subject: RE: Heads of Tails TT

Very cool.  And I'd say that, yes, 3.7 is quite respectable. 

What's the target September tri?


2017-03-10 5:56 PM
in reply to: mcmanusclan5

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Houston, Texas
Subject: RE: Heads of Tails TT

Chattanooga (70.3 WC)!  Will be competing against myself, as I'm not quite at the pointy end, but reasonably competitive in normal AG racing....I'm excited for it!

2017-03-12 7:41 PM
in reply to: ligersandtions

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Auckland, North Island
Subject: RE: Heads of Tails TT
Nice race report.

And congratulations on the podium!

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