Cherry Valley 30K TT
April 19, 2009 – Cherry Valley, IL
Masters 30+ – 1st – 44:51.920
269 watts – 25.0 MPH

Down pours! Gusting winds! Potholes! Pea gravel! Puddles! Single digit temperatures (in degrees C)! Oh,my!  Yes, I couldn’t have had any more fun at the Cherry Valley 30K TT!

Alright, enough with the sarcasm (and exclamation marks).  The conditions for the race today just sucked. If this hadn’t been the first outdoor TT of the year, I might have bailed.  However, I was anxious to race and knew everyone else would be suffering and be in the same mood as me.

The weather wasn’t too bad at the start of the race. Temps were still in the lows 50s and there was just a light rain.  I decided to do a 20 minute warm-up straight into my race (hoping this would keep me warm). Looking at the starting numbers, you could tell that there were many “no shows”.  Minutes would go by without a racer. This made watching your clock crucial to ensure you got to the start on time.

The first few miles were mostly downhill with a slight tailwind.  This worked perfectly to help get the legs warmed up without having to hold back on the pace. Conditions weren’t too bad at first, but things started to worsen after about 4 miles.  The rain and wind both picked up.  By Mile 6, it was a downpour.  I overshot the turnaround (my brakes were useless in the wet) and lost several seconds. Now, things really began to suck.

The angle and amount of rain made the return trip miserable. The rain was coming down hard enough to leave standing waters on the road. Plus, I couldn’t see more than a few yards in front of me.  I had ridden the course the weekend before and didn’t think the roads were that bad.  Now, I had a different opinion.  I tried to dodge potholes and other road hazards, but just gave up.  I just kept plowing forward.  Cresting a hill, right before Mile 14, I was wondering when the misery would end.  Thankfully, there was more wind protection from treelines the last 4 miles.  I finished fairly strong and didn’t feel tired.  I knew I had left a little out on the course, but I also knew why.

Considering the conditions, I knew my body was holding back because it was beginning to go into “survival mode”.  I didn’t bother with a cool down and immediately went back to the car to get dry clothes.  I had begun shivering a little during my race (I was only wearing a skinsuit), but now it was getting worse. I had trouble changing, but could tell the cold and wet was also affecting the other guys that came into the bathroom.  I got back in my car, turned on the seat warmers on and cranked the heat.  My shivering kept up and I could tell I was disoriented when I stopped for gas (I kelp trying to open the fuel door than realized it was internal release).  Great, I probably shouldn’t have been driving, but I wanted to get home and have a hot shower.  Traffic was slow (due to the downpour), but I finally made it home after 2 hours. I got my shivering under control after about an hour (yeah for seat warmers!), but knew I had gotten stage 1 hypothermia. Ah, the joys of racing in this weather!

Despite the crappy weather, I would say I had a decent race.  The results confirmed my suspicions.  I was pleasantly surprised to have won the Masters 30+ with the 10th fastest time of the day.  I was happy, but also frustrated to have only 5 seconds separating me from the 7th fastest time (hat’s nothing in a 30K TT). Oh, well, everyone had to deal with the bad weather. This race got me more motivated for the MATTS series this year. I’m a little behind because I missed the indoor TTs, but this W is a good start!

Overall, this race is a good reminder to listen to your body and plan for conditions. I thought I was set with just a skinsuit, but I probably should have had another base layer.  Dry clothes also weren’t enough at the finish. I should have had hot chocolate or apple cider to drink after the race too. I was really impressed with the volunteers and officials for standing around in these conditions. The RVO team and ABR put on a nice race.  I highly recommend this race to others in the future. It’s only about an hour from Chicago and the course really isn’t too bad when the weather cooperates.

P.S. I want to give an equipment update. This race was the first time that I was able to race with my new Hed wheels.  I went with a H3C  in front and a Stinger 9 (w/Powertap and wheel cover) in back.  This setup was perfect! The trispoke was ideal for these conditions.  The apparent wind calculator and aerodynamics charts at the Hed website are cool and can help you pick the right wheel for the race conditions.  I’ll give you an update on my SRAM stuff next time.


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