2020.10.03 – Beach Channel Time Trial #1 p/b Dr. Chris O’Neal of Brooklyn and New York Bike Lawyers

It has been a while I last posted something. This has been a busy summer between work, orchestrating the social distancing events at the Kissena Velodrome, training, and the unexpected welcoming of someone in my life: Amy.

Furthermore, this summer I received some bad news. In June my coach, whom I had been with for about fourteen years, informed me that he decided to quit the business and change careers. The good news that came out of this, is that he hooked me up with a new coach, John Croom. You can take a look at some of his credentials at the Wikipedia link here, but suffice to say, he is a very successful track racer at the national and international level.

This ended up being a welcome change to my training as I felt that my track training regiment was not what it needed to be. For the past two years, I struggled to learn track racing on my own. Not that I want to dismiss my old coach, Kirk, but track was not his thing, and it is something that I kind of fell into over the past few years and I have been completely taken by it. With John as my new coach, I refocused my goals due to the pandemic, and we  started to put together a new training plan.

Alex Kochatau, who in the past has organized various criteriums around New York City, has put together some social distancing individual Time Trials (iTT.) To help him out, I decided I would go and participate in order to help boost his numbers, plus this would give me a bit of a break from the track. I easily wrangled Amy into participating as well.

On Saturday morning, I got up at my usual five o’clock time to feed the restless creatures in the house. I then got myself fed and kitted up. I had already prepared most of my stuff the night before by loading the Giant Propel in the car with tools, pump, etc…, packed my bag and prepared my bottles and snacks.

I ended up getting out fifteen minutes late but I do tend to pad my times to allow for this sort of thing. I arrived in Brooklyn around a quarter after seven in order to pick Amy up and load her bike and stuff in the vehicle. This got us to Floyd Bennett Field at about a quarter to eight, where we met Percy.

After unloading our gear and stuff from our vehicles, we rode over the Marine Parkway Bridge. As we headed south over to Rockaway, the blue sky and rising sun gave off some nice views over the water. At the south end of the bridge we rode another ten minutes up to the starting point located at Beach Channel Drive and 125th street.

Alex and his crew were already there, processing registrations and getting things up and running. With our masks on, we got our numbers and pinned each other up. I pinned Amy, and she got to experience pinning me up. I tend to be very picky on how I am pinned up, but she is awesome and did an excellent job. There was not too much time left before the start since eight thirty was upon us, however the event did start about fifteen minutes late but that did not bother me.

Photo by: Victor Chan

If I recall, the starting order had me in the thirteenth spot in the starting order, and Amy would be second out of the gate, so I would get to see her ride off, and she would get to see me finish. Alex had set riders to start thirty seconds apart.

For this event I brought out the Giant Propel with the carbon 55mm deep rims with race tires and latex tubes. I pulled off my carbon bottle cages from the bike to save those few extra grams. For a ten kilometer time trial I would not need to drink. I also mounted my new GoPro Hero 8 Black camera to the front of the bike to record the effort. As a matter of a fact, I made a whole video showcasing the entire event, linked below. For dress, since it was not that chilly, I wore my lighter weight long sleeves cyclocross skin suit with my semi aero helmet, and my aero gloves.

Once the guy in front of me left the starting gate, I had thirty seconds before my start. I rolled up to the line and watched the clock count off the seconds. With about fifteen seconds to go I started my Garmin. Green light, and I was off. Due to nerves, I did botch my clip in, but I quickly remedied the situation and got out of saddle and accelerated up to race speed. I think I started on a gear that was a bit to light, which might be why I botched clipping in.

We had to deal with a bit of wind coming from the north, or my right, as I was heading westwards. The Propel seems to suffer more from cross winds probably due to the airfoil shape of the frame. I also had to deal with some road imperfections. A minute or so in I looked down and noticed I was pushing too much power, so I backed off a bit and tried to just settle in. I spun the pedals with a cadence of around mid nineties. After all the track work that is where I feel more comfortable.

I set up my Garmin in kilometers, and I had it auto lap every kilometer. This would help keep me aware of where I was in the race. Just after two kilometers, I passed the rider who had started thirty seconds ahead of me. I went to his right as he was slightly in the lane, and there was a wide shoulder available.

Foto by: Victor Chan

Just before completing the third Kilometer, the course went up and over the bridge access road. I bogged down a bit on this climb. In hind sight I should have gotten out of saddle and pushed harder to get over it. Unfamiliarity with the course was not helping me. In fact I raced a bit conservatively because I did not know the course.

The over pass is a short rise and drop, but on the downhill portion the racer who started behind me caught and passed me. I resisted the urge to speed up to try to stay with him. The last thing I wanted to do was to blow up. I needed to race my own race. Once past the bridge we ended up back in an area with some traffic lights. The Marshalls working the event did a good job keeping the roads safe for us, but still, I exercised caution just in case, we were racing on an a course open to car traffic.

After the lights, we had a nice open road for the next few kilometers. Just as we were hitting kilometer number six, we had to make a u-turn. I came in too hot hoping for a slightly wide arc, and because of my miscalculation, I was forced to scrub some speed mid turn so I would not end up in the grass. As it was I used as all of the road that I could.

Heading back towards the east, there was about four kilometers left to race. The rider who started a minute ahead of me was ripe for the picking, so I picked up the pace and passed him. On this return leg, I rode faster, knowing the finish was no more than five to six minutes away. We had one more slight uphill, and a tunnel to go through, and the finish line would be a kilometer or so up the road. Thinking back, I should have pushed harder here to empty the tank, but again, being unfamiliar with the course had me holding back.

Photo by: Victor Chan

In the end, I finished in seventh place with a time of 16:30.662 in the Men Non-TT bike category. I am okay with that time. I had a lot of fatigue in me going into the race due to my training volume, and I had not performed an effort this long since the end of April. Coupled with the unfamiliarity of the course I would like to think that I am satisfied with my performance. If I go back again, I will obviously try to improve, as long as we do not experience any crazy winds. Amy scored a second place finish in the Women Non-TT bikes and got to go up on the podium.

Following the ceremony and closing speech, we rode back to the cars parked up at Floyd Bennett Field and drove home. It was a fun morning, with friends and other people who enjoy the love of bicycles and racing. A special thank you to Alex Kochatau and his crew for making an effort to keep some form of bike racing alive in New York City during these unusual times. And do not want to forget to thank Victor Chan for documenting New York City and surrounding area races with his wonderful photos.

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