This past weekend I did my first US non drafting triathlon. It has been a very long time since I have done a non drafting race and this was also going to be the first on a Time Trial bike.
Having not done any of this racing before I had to borrow a TT bike from my Doctor (Thanks Dr Keeler), disc wheel from my chiropractor (Thanks Hasegawa) and go and buy an aero helmet and water bottles. I kind of enjoyed geeking out trying to get as aero as possible, being a bike mechanic it was kind of fun. I look forward to having my own TT bike and getting really nerdy!
I was only able to ride the TT bike once adjusted to be similar to my world cup position for a total of 6hrs prior to the race. Needless to say I was sure how my body was going to feel about it.
The Lifetime race is a big money race with over $200,000 in prize money and part of a five race series. I am thinking about doing the series but wanted to see how I faired at my first one.
The swim was quite cruisy as there were only 20 men on the startline so after a short burst at the start I settled quickly onto Simon's feet where I proceeded to tap his feet as much as I could to annoy him! Ha ha, just kidding, I tried to avoid it but we were swimming into a chop and Hunter Kemper wasn't just tapping my feet he was pounding them. So I eventually let Hunter by so he could pound on Simon's feet for the rest of the swim. There was no need to panic and push the swim as we would all exit together and start the bike as a group in stagger position. (Insert "Non Drafting Rules" here) quoted from Simon's blog:
the stagger group - at USAT non drafting events the rules call for a stagger rule. Basically riders must stagger themselves outside a 2meter wide by 10meter long "box", left and right you can never line your draft box up with the rider in front. In highly competitive races this always ends up causing some bickering and controversy as so many of us swim and ride about the same speed and have trouble separating. A "staggered pack" forms with the athletes jockeying for position in an attempt to stay out of the draft.
We all try to stay out of the zones as best as possible and with the top "draft marshals" in the country there to supervise everyone does a pretty good job. Regardless of the stagger rule though, it is a little easier to be back in the group then right at the front. However, once you break from the group and are riding solo you can ride a more consistent pace and take better lines through corners as you are not having to worry about overlapping a draft box.
I felt comfortable on the bike and was chuckling to myself at times as I was weaving all over the road in order to stay out of the drafting zones. It wasn't until the final 10km when I moved to the front to try and draw back Andy Potts, Simon, Paul Tichelaar, and Greg Bennet that the intensity increased. I was joined by Craig Alexander and Matt Reed in this attempt to bring them back and we all entered transition closely and with the leaders just up ahead.
I ran hard out of transition but on the conservative side as I wanted to run the whole 10km strong and I wasn't sure how this whole non drafting racing would go. I felt strong going through the end of the first 5km lap and began to build my pace as I was running in 7th with Paul starting to fade ahead of me. I put a surge in at a water station about 7km in and caught and then passed Paul. I wanted it to stick so I continued the surge for about 3min but found myself feeling strong at this pace and continued with it. I was then starting to reel in Matt Reed in 5th but I ran out of territory and sprinted to within 2sec of him for 6th place.
I was really happy with my performance considering my back getting tight over the last 10km of the bike and racing the whole thing a bit conservatively. With one under my belt now I head to New York with a better understanding of what I am capable of and ready to push my limits now. I have also continued to alter my fit on my bike to a more TT position which will release some stress on my back.
I am looking forward to having a go at New York. It will be a smaller group of men out of the water and the bike course will allow for more seperation. So it should be a fun TT race!