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Boo Yah! I can ride a bicycle! 54:58 40k! In my debut non draft race, I was first out of the water, first out of T2 and won by over 2 minutes with the fastest run split of the day!

I’d delayed my entrance into the non-draft circuit until two things happened:

1. I owned an awesome TT bike

2. I could put out the power that would make me worthy of an awesome TT bike.

While 1 was technically never more than a credit card bill away, a truly fast TT bike had to wait until Kestrel kindly decided that I would be a recipient of their innovation and largess. I was gifted with the smooth ride and aerodynamics of this baby, the Kestrel 4000 LTD:

 

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Indispensable things

The more difficult part, however, was the power worthy of an awesome TT bike, which was accomplished due to the coaching of Mike Doane. Last year I spent a bunch of time riding with Ben Collins, master of non-draft cycling, which helped remind me on a daily basis that I still had a long way to go before I could compete with great guys. I improved a lot, but was humbled regularly.

This year I’ve been able to do a bunch of riding with the ETA (or, more recently, the Colorado Triathlon Academy), and Luke Farkas more specifically. Despite being only 19, Luke is frequently king of the Saturday Colorado Springs World Championships (known more informally as the group ride). Even if he can’t remember to bring a flat kit, he’s been winning his races with some powerful bike breakaways and solid running to back that up. Riding in the DoaneZone with him definitely pushed my power threshold way up.

One more thing that helped was having a couple stupid injuries this year that kept me out of running. With the extra free time, I’ve been able to put in a lot of hours on the bike and I was relieved to see those hours show up on race day.

Those injuries, however, also meant that I’d raced only once since last October, so I was getting very anxious to be out on the race course. Couple that with having never done a non-draft race before, and during the week leading up to the race I was doing my best to not start running around in screaming circles. Hawaiian shirts were a necessity. Sometimes more than one per day, just to make sure I had a constant source of relaxation on hand.

I wasn’t quite sure if I would be ready for this race, so I made sure to prep pretty much everything so I could be as aero as possible. I researched the most aerodynamic water bottle positions and shapes. I ended up with TorHans on the downtube and a homemade bottle between my aerobars.

This is the definition of DIY sexiness:

“Wow, Greg! We love your water bottle. What bendy straw!”

 

The race played out perfectly. I still can’t believe how good I felt. The swim was fun, and I was part of a group of 5 guys that broke away from the rest of the pros. Unlike an ITU event, there were no moments where I feared for my life nor when I was close to having my race end before I hit dry land. I sprinted around Jimmy Seear at the end of the swim to take an imaginary swim prime which paid out in pride and a fall onto the slippery carpet. I still made it through T1 in first and was out into uncharted territory quicker than anyone else. After this fast swim, I’m stoked to have a partnership with Zone3 wetsuits. Started by former pro James Lock, its owners are great guys with an awesome philosophy that produces great swim gear and wetsuits.

So golden

Click for a video of an impressively quick wetsuit removal

Once onto my bike I decided to pace it like I do when I just barely miss the pack in an ITU race – all out, all the time, all aero. Oh man. I even had an aero helmet. God I was aero. I was even on 650s, so I would have been considered ridiculously aero back in the 90’s.

Fortunately, I revamped that pacing decision and was relieved to see Tom Davison come past at around 12k so I could judge my effort on his significantly more experienced cycling. I found I was able to comfortably track him while maintaining a slightly greater than 10 meter long, 2 meter wide gap. He did keep on switching sides of the rode, so I was very conscientious to maintain the stagger. I was terrified of a drafting penalty, mainly because I didn’t really know how long 10 meters look on the bike.

After a couple laps drinking out of my awesome homemade bottle, I got off the bike right after him with about a minute or so lead on the next pro.

Such an awesome helmet.

Such an awesome helmet.

I never thought I’d be writing that sentence. Me? A lead off a TT bike race? Whoa. My mind is still boggled. Also bottled, as some would say, but mainly boggled. Definitely lucky to have a fast Kestrel bike.

What could possibly fuel that performance, you might ask. Well, the answer was formulated as part of a private game of caffeinated one-upmanship. While Cameron Dye may have the patented Hulk Juice, here is a visual recipe for Thor’s Hammer Sauce:

Too much caffeine you might say? My answer is - do you know how much I consume before a race?

Too much caffeine you might say? My answer is – do you know how much I consume before the race even starts?

Anyway, Tom Davison got unlucky in T2 with a feisty bicycle that wouldn’t rack, so I made it out of T2 first.

I was out of T2 first.

Still blown away by that. From there, I hammered the first half of the run, but it was getting pretty hot and humid. Thinking back to Ben Collins’ epic explosions in his last couple races, I backed off over the second half of the race. This fortunately left energy for some finish chute celebrations. Probably a little too much energy, but I haven’t seen pictures yet. Once I have some pictures, I’ll update the site. And despite what slowtwitch says, I still ended up with the fastest run split by about 45 seconds.

Also, I should give a shout out to ON-Running. Very happy to know I can put on shoes in T2 that will bring me home fast and smooth.

Fastest swim and run split with a bike split only 19 seconds away from being the race best. Clearly I should try this non-draft stuff again!

So, I won by a little over 2 minutes. It felt great, but was mainly a huge relief after being injured for so long. There are always doubts if things will come back after an injury. I’m really glad to be back racing and it was fun to talk to some other pros again. Jordan Jones, whom I haven’t seen for a long time, is a very cool dude.

And here’s your inspirational picture of the week. Yet another reason Winston Churchill is a badass:

No man can rock a top hat like Churchill.

No man can rock a bowler hat like Churchill.

In other milestone events, the swagger wagon is a quarter of the way to a million miles!

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Onto Dallas next week! Can I make it two in a row?