by Ken Huizenga
I picked up my teammate JJ and we headed out early. It was a great morning to race, at 7:15 when we arrived the temperature was about 74 degrees. The winds seemed light but at least they would be crosswinds. We drove the first mile of the course because a week earlier I had done the same thing, but still questioned where the best line would be. The first few miles had patches in the road that might be a little sketchy at 30 mph in the TT bars. We decided the white line was about the best spot to aim for and headed to registration. After pinning on our numbers we began chatting with a few of our neighbors in the parking lot. Conversations were mostly about how the year has gone and how this race was likely to pan out. After about an hour, we started noticing how much the wind was increasing. It was gusting and was now wavering between a likely crosswind shifting to a headwind. Even if a Cat 5 rider like myself has had a remote chance at the 30+ club, it was now definitely not going to happen. If you have not heard, this race awards a special T-shirt to those that average over 30mph for the course.
JJ and I started to warm up and ride along the highway. I wanted to be loose but not waste a bit of energy. The first rider off was at 9 am and I was near the end of list. JJ left about 5 riders in front of me so he had about a three minute head start. I was glad for this because it assured that I would not see him. Racing a friend is just not fun for me. I so hoped he would crush it.
I started into a strong headwind and after a minute of heavy wattage, settled down to focus on staying close to my FTP. I liked what I was seeing on the Garmin and continued at a nice rhythm. Although advertised as a completely downhill course, there were a few long flats that seemed to tail up at the ends. This is where I figured I could pick up the power. After pushing a bit past my threshold, I was happy to see there was only 1.8 miles to go. I tucked in and emptied the tank. I quickly looked down to see my average speed was close to 26mph. I was happy.
Training-wise I felt prepared for this event but was not feeling well this day. I hoped my time would represent our team well. As for JJ, he felt he did his best and we headed home feeling good about our effort. As it turned out, we finished 4th and 5th respectively. Not too shabby. It was an awesome morning spent with a great group of riders. Sonoita was beautiful spot to have this race. Maybe one day I will get one of those t-shirts but for now there is much more work to be done.