This weekend, I returned to the group rides out at Princeton Sports. This week, there were three distance options, which was nice. One fast 25 mile ride of the Columbia Tri course, one 17 mile ride of the old Iron Girl Course, and one 14ish mile ride cutting off the worst part of the Iron Girl course.
I went for option B. I knew I couldn’t keep up with the fast group, but I wanted the extra hills, so I went for the course I knew. This was the first time I had really ridden my TT bike on an outdoor ride (the slow loops a few weeks back were a good trial, but not a real ride). I was a little bit nervous about the whole thing but it’s a well supported ride, so I knew I would be fine. I just didn’t want to fall!
It was a smaller group out for this ride, and I found myself somewhere mid-pack. The TT bike is definitely twitchy and I’ll have to really work on staying steady. Core work will definitely help, as will practice.
I definitely felt like my riding was slower than normal. Climbing seemed harder than I remembered. And I wanted to have a faster overall pace. Of course, the downhills felt pretty speedy in aero. And scary. But I really thought my finish time was going to be significantly slower than what I was doing last year.
Turns out my final time was two minutes faster than when I was riding this course last May. Two minutes isn’t a lot, and the downhills probably helped. But then I looked at my Strava data.
One great thing about Strava is that it gives you the time for your full distance as well as how you do on various segments that people have setup on the course. (You can also compare to how other people do on certain segments, but I am so slow I don’t bother with those.) And I hit a PR on a pretty significant climb near the end of the ride. Now, I’ve only been using Strava since last year, so it’s possible that I have done it faster at some point, but I think the odds are not good, since I’m definitely a stronger cyclist than I was two years ago.
I still have a long way to go before my big race in September, but this is a good start. Must keep riding those killer hills.