Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Krank the Kanc. I signed up for what?

It is no revelation that I am not a pure climber. In fact, I climb like a bowling ball, I climb like a box turtle, I climb like a narcoleptic hippopotamus. To be fair, I can climb hills on the bike, its just not pretty, or quick. But I have a bunch of team mates that really wanted to do Krank the Kanc. When the individual divisions filled in seconds, I signed up to do the 3 person team time trial. I just hoped that I would not be a ridiculous drag on my team's time.

The course itself is not a pure climb. The first 17 miles of the 21 mile course is a slight grade to actually flat. The race breaks down into 3 parts: the first 9 miles at a 2-3 grade is a big ring climb, the second part is the flat/downhill 7.5 miles, and then part three, the climb, 4.5 miles at 7%. Our game plan was to be as aero as possible for the first two sections. One of our team, Joe, rode his full TT bike. Dana was on a Cervelo Soloist w/ Zipp 404's.  We all ran aero extensions. I debated about using aero wheels (Hed 3's), climbing wheels (Dura Ace 24's) or something in between (Bontrager Carbon Aero's). The trade off between wheels being either fast on the flat or light for the climb. The plan was to do 2-3 minute pulls at threshold to maximize our speed on the first 2 parts of the course, then pace each other on the climb. I figured I might need a push or two.

Our course preview training convinced me that I would need the climbing wheels. Coming off three hard falls in two weeks, I just didn't have alot of power. I was barely able to do my pulls on the flat sections. On the hill, I was at only 80% of my typical slow climbing. So I only glued up the Dura Ace wheels, and hope I would do better on race day. Thankfully, we worked the pace line well on the flat sections, so I might get some recovery before the hill.

Race day I felt fresh. I had a good session of hill climbing the Wednesday before. My warm up was a little short, but adequate for an hour+ long time trial. Unfortunately, one of our team had a head cold. We held the tempo down a notch in the middle section of the race per his request. We pacelined together well, so we were still working our plan. Still, we started the climb a couple minutes behind our target time. We worked the climb at his pace. I felt like I could give a little more until the last km, then my calves cramped. I spun for a few seconds and pushed for the finish. We finished together, sprinting for the line.

We had caught both of the teams that started before us, but 12 teams started after us. So we got to sit at the top of the Kanc, munch on pretzels, and wait for the others to finish. (But no water?!? who puts out food at the end of bike race but no water?) We managed a 1:12:30, 3 minutes slower that we hoped, but a solid time. In the end it was good enough for 2nd place.  We also won the intra-squad contest for bragging rights by besting the other Team Alpine Clinic three-some.

We might have raced faster on the flat section, but we gave it what we could on the day. Dana and Joe are eager to see if we can do better next year. Perhaps more aero wheels would help our speed in the flats. And now my mates are eager to do Crank the Crawford as a team.
What have I gotten myself into?

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