Thanks for the encouragement, everyone!
I had an unexpectedly strong ride - 19.5 mph average over 24.5 miles (approx. ~1:16:27 time on course)!! Woot!!! That's 2.0 mph faster than any triathlon I've done. It should be towards the last 1/3 of the times in my class, but I'm still super-pleased with it for my first time out. I'm pretty sure I could do better in the shorter time trials, also, because part of what slowed me down was saddle discomfort and having to stretch now and then. It did help that it was held on part of the Eagleman course that I'm quite familiar with.
I really enjoyed it, too! I was able to focus and really turn my legs up to the "dark toast" setting without having to be concerned if I would be able to run, or even walk, afterwards!!
Differences from triathlon:
- There are a whole array of rider classes, quite mysterious to the uninitiated. I rode in "Women's Category 4" which means rank beginner female of any age. "Unlicensed riders need to purchase a one-day license (available at event for $10). One-day licensees can enter only the Men’s cat 5 and Women’s cat 4 races." So even though I'm AARP-eligible I couldn't ride in an age group class in my first event.
- Checking in just means signing a waiver and picking up your chip and number on the day of the race. People above cat 4 women or cat 5 men had to present their official cycling license card, too. We were given water bottles.
- Jerseys with sleeves are required, no sleeveless.
- Everyone put their number on sideways on the back right side of the torso so it can be read from the right roadside.
- You put the chip on your bike front fork with a computer tie, not on you.
- You start under a little tent on the roadside, and just past it are wires duct-taped to the roadway for the timing chips - you just ride down the road real hard until you go over the second set of wires. Starts were every 30 seconds. I had an assigned time that they emailed to me about 2 days in advance. It would have been helpful if they had a big "official time" clock running for everyone to see, but they didn't at this event. They just gathered the riders in my class and had us line up our bikes in start order, then sent us off one by one. (I got passed en route by ~6 women behind me, but re-passed one).
- Aerobottles are apparently legal (I asked three officials) but I was the only one I saw who had one. It helped. :-) I drank from the aerobottle and used the bottle in the cage to douse myself with water just before the halfway point.
- They gave me the option of starting clipped-in and holding my bike, or clipping in myself. I chose the latter, since I hadn't practiced it and was afraid of wobbling and crashing. I wobbled anyway, but didn't crash.
- Lots of people wear shoe covers, skinsuits, and aero helmets. The array of bikes was pretty similar to what you'd see at any triathlon.
- There were no aid stations nor water bottle pickups.
- Nobody uses seatpacks full of tools or bento boxes. I left mine in my minivan and felt like I was riding naked.
- Nobody says encouraging things when they pass you. Nobody said a thing unless I did first.
- There's very little hanging around and socializing, unless you have clubmates at the event to do it with. (But it's possible that was because the start was 5 miles from the parking area). I didn't see any families on roadsides like you always see at triathlons. Maybe at the awards, which I didn't stay for.
Update: Here's my Garmin track on the clockwise loop course:
My heart rate (red) and speed (blue line). I'm pleased with my overall effort - my heart rate didn't get below 155 and my speed didn't go below 17.0 mph anywhere on the course.
Interested in finding cycling time trials in your area of the US?
My official time for 40 km was 1:16:40.60 (19.44 mph).
15th/21 in women's category 4 in my first cycling time trial (71%), 37/46 overall women (80%).
That time would have put me 2nd/3 in women's age 50+. Maybe I'll have to actually join USA Cycling and compete in age groups in 2009!