The Negotiation That Is Racing
My goal was to get a "sub hour" T-shirt for the 40 km race and I'd trained diligently at and around my target wattage of 280 w on the time trial bike. Testing outdoors on windless days had shown me that 280-285 w was the bare minimum I'd need to make the time cut by keeping me at 40 km/h. As an aside, that was about 20 or 30 watts lower than what I'd been able to achieve on a regular road bike.
Every time one sets out to do an effort it's a conversation (negotiation?) between the mind and the body. Prior to this race I'd always given each an equal voice at the table. On race day my "sensations" were way off and my body was negotiating hard for a "do what you can" effort. From the moment I woke right through my warmup my body lobbied for compromise. So that was the decision I needed to make; to listen to my feelings and do what I could - which would definitely mean missing my goal, or to "go big" and try and hold the speed I needed for the race target.
I chose the latter and decided I'd aim for 40 km/h until either I exploded or I saw the finish line. I set my Garmin to display speed (average and actual) only and set off.
It was an excruciating experience because the concentration required for each pedal revolution was intense and it was emotionally exhausting knowing that even a thirty second lapse in effort could spell doom.
I made the time (58 and change) and the wattage was just under 280.
The lesson learned? Come time to race, it's not mind over matter - it's mind over sensations.
Jules Roazen is a long-standing board member of New York City-based Kissena Cycling Club, having held positions as club President, Vice President and Membership Director over multiple terms. Kissena Cycling Club is one of the oldest cycling entities in the United States and has contributed to the fabric of New York bicycle racing for over half a century.