A few years ago, several of my friends asked if I wanted to participate in the NEMS Indoor Time Trial. Through some bad weather, failing to sign up in advance, and some family commitments, I wasn’t able to make it. This year, however, I signed up in advance and got to participate. This is my 2017 Northeast Multisport Indoor TT Race Report. Read on for more.
The race was held at the Goodale’s Bike Shop in Nashua, NH. Having only visited both the Concord and Hooksett, NH Goodale’s, it was my first visit to this location. This shop is HUGE. In fact, it is the main distribution center for the other two stores. When we arrived, we were ushered through a very long hallway to a back room. It was a beautiful exposed brick room with event sponsor banners everywhere. The setup had 8 CompuTrainers setup with a projector showing metrics and course progress on the wall.
There was also a Shimano tent which not only was handing out some swag, but also providing “neutral” support. I managed to snag a JerseyBin that actually fit my larger phone. JerseyBins are pretty similar to a Ziploc bag, but higher quality. My old JerseyBin fit a smaller phone.
Every 45 minutes a new “heat” started with eight new riders. My heat started at 11 am and two of my good friends were racing with me. My race kit for my new team, Maverick Multisport, has not arrived yet, so I raced in my tri-club kit for Northeast Multisport.
As the race was eight linked CompuTrainers, the first step was to normalize each rider’s weight. I had to weigh myself and my bike. I did weigh my bike with a full water bottle on it. Total weight was 25 pounds. Ouch. That was nothing compared to my body weight. I’m still working off some of the baked goods I ate between Thanksgiving and New Year.
I previously wrote about how I use TrainerRoad for all my training. My plan was to use TrainerRoad on my Android tablet to warmup. I even expected an issue prior to leaving my home. Before leaving home, I ensured my heart rate monitor, speed & cadence sensor, and power meter were all paired to the app. I took a screenshot of the ANT+ IDs just in case they weren’t saved. I didn’t count on one simple fact. That was with 50 bikes all within a confined area, there were so many ANT+ devices, that I couldn’t even tap on my devices to pair them. The list shifted around every half a second or so. I did submit a support ticket to TrainerRoad asking if I was doing something wrong. Turns out, they know about this issue and hope to eventually allow only saved devices to pull up. Oh well. I was also a bit concerned that as soon as I started riding I got a “low power meter battery” warning. Dang. Given the goal for the day I was praying the battery held in there for the next hour or so.
Knowing the warmup protocol I wanted to use. My plan was to spend roughly 30 minutes in warm up. I wanted to build up to a minute or two at existing FTP with a few short “blowout” intervals. This is somewhat similar to the warmups that precede a FTP test. I more or less did what I wanted. After my warmup was complete one of the awesome volunteers took my bike and set it up for me on the CompuTrainer. After a quick bio break it was time to get the CompuTrainer setup.
When we first got on the CompuTrainer there was zero wheel resistance. We could spin at 120 rpm and hit 40 miles per hour at only 120 watts. The next step was the spin down and wheel resistance calibration. To do this, we would spin the wheel above 25 miles per hour and the volunteer would increase or decrease resistance on the wheel until we all were within a given spec. Once that was done, we had a few minutes until our heat started.
The plan going into this event was to use it as a FTP test. I made some significant fit changes in the fall and took a FTP test soon after. While I’m in a new training block, the last FTP test I took was back in November. I’ve felt for a few weeks now that my FTP is a bit higher than my current value. All that said, I approached this entire day as one big FTP test. When I was watching previous heats, I quickly realized that I would likely finish before 20 minutes were up and thus none of my training apps would recognize or calculate a new FTP for me. I’d have to do it manually.
As with any FTP test, the secret is to not go out too hard. My FTP prior to this test was 228 watts. The image below shows the course “profile”. We started off at the top of a hill, then descended. After the descent (which the CompuTrainer significantly reduced the resistance), it was time to start the climb. The trainer’s resistance automatically increased on the hill. My trainer at home is “dumb” in that it is a basic fluid trainer. It was odd having the trainer resistance automatically increase and decrease, but I was impressed with the quality of the CompuTrainer. It was my first time riding a CompuTrainer and I finally understood what everyone says about the benefits of a smart trainer. Until I reached the hill, my goal was to stay around existing FTP or slightly over it knowing I wanted to finish strong.
In any event, my plan was to push the “hill” has steady as I could and increase the power. Once I got over top of the hill I’d push with whatever I had left. We heard from people who rode the course in the morning that the descent off the major climb wasn’t much of a downhill. Truth be told, it felt a bit like a false flat downhill with a headwind. I was alternating between third and fourth in our heat until I hit the climb. The guy I was trading with was on separated by a second or two for the first half of the race.
My friend Dan (farthest left in the image below) and my friend Kevin (big tall guy on my right below) were both in my race. When Dan and I would ride outside, he’d pull away from me on a hill, but I’d catch back up on the downhill. This race was no different. I could see he was in second by about a minute on the climb. Once I crested the hill I started to get into gear and started pulling back some time. Once I hit that downhill, my goal was to stay as steady as I could. I’d alternate between staying in aero and sitting up on the brake hoods.
When all was said and done, I was totally happy with a third place result in our heat. The first place guy was a fellow Northeast Multisport club member and has been putting in significant training volume. Second place went to my friend Dan. My buddy Kevin finished after me. Once we were done with our course, the resistance on the CompuTrainer let go and it was back to easy pedaling until everyone was done.
We knew that there were many other really good cyclists to come in our age group. But, as of 11:45 all three of us friends were 1, 2, and 3 in the age group. None of us stayed in the top 3 by the end of the day, but it was pretty cool. I looked at my average wattage for the race and when multiplying by 95% (typical for finding FTP after a 20 minute effort), my new FTP increased by 20 watts or 8.8%. Not bad since November. I know I most certainly was able to hold the power for another two minutes or so and thus comfortable accepting the new FTP number. It is clear that having competition enables you to produce a better result than you might find as self-motivation in a basement FTP test.
After the race, we hung around and watched others ride. There were other Northeast Multisport club members riding during the day. We also wanted to stick around until we were knocked off the age group podium (which we were around 4 pm). Looking back at it, this was an awesome day in a great venue. I’m glad I was able to participate and produce a great result early in the season. It was also great to see friends again. At the end, I wound up finishing 23rd out of 83 riders. Considering that several of the riders in the top 20 were not triathletes and only dedicated cyclists, I was quite happy with the performance.
What I Learned
No race report is complete without a section for what I learned before, during, or after.
- Bring more water. I had one water bottle and a Nalgene. Double the water next year.
- Eating a Clif Bar an hour before the event was ok, but the flavor I had didn’t agree with me.
- You can push harder than you did. Despite setting a new FTP threshold, I know I didn’t push hard enough. I need to re-learn what it means to suffer.
- Consider weighing your bike without a full water bottle.
- Try not to eat as many baked goods from November to January. It has a negative effect on your watts/kilogram.
- Your power meter battery can last longer than an hour after you see the low battery warning.