Pre-4th of July Fireworks

Normally people wait in anticipation for the fourth of July fireworks.  There is something about that holiday that demonstrates summer at its finest.  The sky is lit with colorful display of sparklers, fire, smoke, and screeching rockets. 

Today is June 14th, still 20 days from this spectacular display of explosions.  Yet, if you were around the high Sierras this morning at approximately 8:53PST, you may have witnessed an early display of some pretty impressive fireworks. 

The location was Sattley, California.  Population: 32, plus a couple of goats, horses, and Sierra basin wind.  Elevation: 4948 ft. Purpose: Norcal/Nevada District TT Championships. 


A normally quiet county road was suddenly transformed into a line of 150+ cars and trainers as cyclists lined the roads to try to race against the clock on a flat, out and back, 40k TT course.  Time trials are always an interesting event to watch as the competitors roll around vaguely appearing like space cadets and superheroes.  Skinsuitsrun amok with pointy aero helmets, dimpled waters bottles, disc wheels, and anything else that might give the edge against the wind, the speed, and the course. 

I rolled up to the event feeling pretty confident.  I have been learning a lot about the TT.  I had a couple of goals.  I was going to win, I was going to put out a lot of power, and I was going to go fast.  Nothing was going to stop me.  No more excuses.  I was ready to push it to the limit, and compete in the race of truth.  Nothing but you and the clock.  I have been trying not to stare at the SRM lately because I want to just force myself to not confine myself to any predetermined limitations.  Instead, I wanted to see what I was made of today.  Just go for it and see what happens.  This has worked in the past, so why not now?

Started the race.  Felt great.  Wow.  This is nothing.  I am going fast, I am aero…I love the Look 496(especially with a tri-spoke and disc).  I even noticed my shadow, and how impressive that bike looked.  I was hammering down the miles.  Flying.  Due to the elements in the winter, there are huge crevices in the road about every 6 ft.  Bump  BUMP. Bump BUMP.  That is the rhythm.  Mile 5, 6…7….8…Get ready, and suddenly I realized something very important.  I still had 4.3 miles to go to the turnaround.  Then I had to repeat the whole 12.3miles to the finish.  Hold nothing back, eh?  I had nothing left.  I started hearing patriotic music.  I heard the looming screech before the fireworks explode into the sky.  And then it happened.  I blew.  I completely blew up.  The heart rate that had been building and building suddenly crashed.  Sparks flew.  Welcome to the 4th of July fireworks in Sattley, California, provided to you by Alison Starnes.  It was a true explosion. 

I limped to the turn around and tried to “sail” home.  The CHP patrolling the course road alongside of me trying to convince me to ride in a straight line, or else I was in a threat to receive a DUI charge.  I definitely was an imparired time trialist.  My vision was blurred, and I was on the verge of hurling up my shots (ClifEspresso) onto the pavement.  2k to go.  I thought I would give it all I had.  Which, I think I already did.  I tried to dig deep and at least come up with a solid Z3 effort.  Cadence slowed.  It all happened in slow motion.  Finally, I crossed the line.  My breathing could be heard for miles.  My ears were still smoking, showing remenents of the previous show of fireworks.

I learned that a 40k is a long time trial.  Pacing yourself may be necessary.  With all the 15-20k time trials I have been doing, I entered today ready to tackle this challenge, yet found myself just learning another lesson.  However, I am glad that I blew up.  Not only for the entertainment of Plumas, Nevada, Sierra, and Lassen counties, but also for the fact that I didn’t play it safe.  I went for it.  I failed, but in this instance, that is acceptable.  I need to learn to what I can accomplish, and there is no way I can do that without taking these risks.  I sure hope to have this dialed in before Nationals, and I will.  Don’t you worry.  Time trialing hurts.  It hurts the entire time, and you need to learn to harness that pain and use it to your advantage.  You need to learn what you can do, and how you make yourself achieve that.  Being so new in the sport, I have no idea what I can accomplish.  I did learn today that I cannot accomplish those watts that I first attempted. 

I am feeling a little beat up right now from my TT bike.  Bruises have formed on my fingers from the shifter jamming into my hands with each bump, BUMP, bump, BUMP.  A poor out of the saddle execution has left its tainted mark on my left knee, and my back, legs, and arms are sore from the effort.  Who knew that a measley 40k could require so much out of someone.  On a positive note, Nationals is 35k.  Nice.

Summer has sneaked up upon us, and I am glad to have provided a glimpse of what is to come.  4th of July fireworks…and strong time trials to come.

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