March has the best weather in Arizona. But not this year. If two weeks of 90+ degree weather is any portent of this coming summer, this could be a brutal 7 months till things cool off again in October. Preheating the Arizona oven this early in the year seemed a cruel greeting to my first-ever stage race.
The prologue time trial of the Tucson Bicycle Classic was held on a Friday, right in the middle of this way too early wave of heat. My start time was 2:30pm and it was over 95. My Garmin, which always seems to register temps a little on the high side, reported that it was 104. One thing about hot weather races – it’s pretty easy to “warm up.” I had skimmed the tech guide and my eyes focused hard – too hard – on the course profile. The 5 and 6% grades were front and center in my imagination and little else occupied my thoughts. I “read” the whole of the tech guide and all its course information – start times, location, distance and map, but the course profile’s lumps preoccupied me complete.
That’s unfortunate. What I didn’t pay enough attention to was the length of this swelter-fest. It was a mere 3.57 miles long. Moreover, it started with long, gradual descent where one could gather tremendous speed. I, in my course-length ignorance, my head full of finish lines at the top of a 6% gradient, settled into what I thought would be a sustainable pace.
But I was going too slow. I was saving too much. And in a few minutes – much to my surprise – the finish line appeared and I realized that I had not nearly gone hard enough. Three-point-five-seven had escaped my attention and my time represented my failure to think. My “race of truth,” the moniker of the road racing time trial, left me with but a single revelation.
Read and attend to the Tech Guide.