This past Sunday, I raced in the Eastern Ohio Time Trial Series, which is held once a month, May through September, down in Deerfield Township, just south of Ravenna, Ohio.
If you've never raced your bicycle before but have been curious as to what it's like, a time trial is a good no-stress way to give it a try. A time trial means that it's just you against the clock; you go a set distance as fast as you possibly can. Each racer starts out by themselves at one-minute intervals, so there's no worrying about jockeying for position and rubbing elbows with fellow riders.
At the EOTT, you can pre-register online, or on-site the morning of the race. It's only $15 either way, with no extra fee for online registration. The first racer starts at 8:01am, and the way they assign race numbers, it's easy to keep track of what time you're supposed to start; e.g. if you're #25, you start at 8:25am.
A race volunteer holds you and your bike up, so you can clip into your pedals and starting cranking right away as he gives you a 5-second countdown to your start. If you're not comfortable with being clipped into both your pedals while somebody holds you up, just let him know, and you can start on your own.
The course just goes straight north on Rt 14, with no stop signs or traffic lights (although you will still be sharing the road with motorists). Around the 6.5-mile mark, you make a u-turn (somebody will be there to let you know and to stop traffic for you) and head back towards the start.
The strategic challenge in any time trial is to pace yourself so that you push as hard as you possibly can without burning yourself out too soon. The longer the distance, the harder this is, but for an event this short, I figured I should just go at 100% or as close to it as I could the whole time. Around 4 miles in, I passed the guy who had started 2 minutes before me; I never passed anybody else or was passed by anyone for the rest of the race.
The first 6.5 miles out has slightly more uphill overall compared to the return, but the return felt a little tougher to me, due to some headwind plus a very gradual, but long, uphill that I failed to make note of on the way out.
After I crossed the finish line, I glanced at my cyclocomputer, and it seemed like I finished in just over 34 minutes, with an average speed of 22.2mph. I met up with a couple of friends in the parking lot, and after doing a quick change out of our cycling shorts, we decided to head over to the Circle Restaurant for some pancakes bigger than your head.
After breakfast, we got back to the event site just as the crew was shutting down and packing things up. We checked our official times on their laptop; mine ended up being 34 minutes and 11 seconds. One of the crew asked, "What's your name?" and when I told them, they said, "Oh, you won a medal!" Turns out, I placed 3rd in my division. They had already had the official medal ceremonies, so I just had to pose alone on the 3rd podium spot for this dorky photo:
If you're interested in trying the East Ohio Time Trial Series out yourself, the next race is on Sunday, July 17. The full season schedule and links for online registration will be found at: www.easternohiotimetrial.com