As life under pandemic conditions gestates and reconfigures, some race organizers are gradually moving away from virtual events to live events that can be done in socially-distanced ways.
For example, Washington's bike racing organization (WSBA), held a time trial ("TT") series over the course of six weekends. Time trials can be done quite easily in a socially distanced way by simply spacing out the riders in the start area, and having adequate gaps between each competitor's start time. National and international-level track and field competitions are happening with amazing results.
The Jerry Baker Memorial Velodrome in Marymoor Park is a natural venue for pandemic competition. Although everyone prefers mass start races, Program Director Amara Edwards has organized a live time trial series: One rider on the track at a time, each one riding against themselves and the clock. Juniors made their attempts on August 9, and most adults made their attempts on Sunday August 23.
Amara describes the challenge this way:
An Hour Record Attempt is simple in theory but the effort it takes is nothing less than extraordinary. The goal is to ride as far as you can in one hour: SIMPLE! The attempt must be made on a track bicycle meaning riders must choose their gear wisely as track bikes only have one gear (and no brakes!) Riders can use aero equipment like aero bars and disc wheels which will help improve their distance over time. Over the course of the hour riders will circle the velodrome 100+ laps in attempts to break their categories' records. While some riders are going for the Velodrome record, others are going for personal satisfaction, and some are doing it as a fundraiser.
For context, going in to this challenge the previous men's elite record was set by Aaron Berntson in October 2016 with a distance of 44.1km, or approximately 27.4 miles. Stewart Bowmer held the record before Aaron, 43.49 km/hr, set in July 2010.
The women's elite record was previously held by Becca Kawaoka and she just set a new record of 41.812km.
Todd Gallaher, is currently the lone racer scheduled to give it a go on September 13. Todd is aiming to get close to his buddy Aaron's distance.
Todd's motivation is a bit of a redemption project. After recovering from pneumonia during the first week of March he now wonders how well he has recovered:
"How fast can I go? With mass start racing off the calendar, what else are you gonna do?"
Todd is a native Seattleite who started racing as a teen in the late 1970s, progressed to the Junior National and Olympic Development Teams, and eventually to the pro mountain biking ranks in the late 80s and early 90s. Todd also did a stint in the Air Force and was stationed in Adana Turkey. He was rolling gravel roads in that part of the world before gravel was marketing niche, and he even won a Turkish national road race.
For veteran racer Hyun Lee the time trial series was a way to stay motivated and work with evolving goals:
As a an avid bike racer, the cancellation of all mass start events as a result of the Covid19 pandemic, has been emotionally challenging. While I totally understand why, it left me feeling pretty lost. As somebody’s who’s raced for the last 33 years, I became very goal-oriented around racing. Without racing, there was a feeling of "why am I training like this? Why bother?" Almost depressing. When the Jerry Baker Velodrome Association announced they were holding individual TT’s like the one hour TT I was intrigued at first. I typically train/specialize in sprint type events. The one-hour record ride is totally outside my comfort box. It required re-tooling training physically and mentally, as well as my bike. I knew it was going to hurt---real bad. So my mental approach to the event was like a long-standing appointment for a root canal. Once I got the ok from my cardiologist to do the event, I thought about how can I improve my motivation? I found I get more motivated if I can do an endeavor for a reason or cause. One of the causes I’m very supportive of is Zoo’s Rezcue, an animal rescue outside Houston Texas run by my dog’s foster mom. I got myself really psyched by turning my one hour ride into a fundraiser for Zoo’s Rezcue where every KM I rode, somebody could donate $1. A bunch of people donated up front. As of 8/24, we raised $855. That’s $855 to help some really needy dogs and cats often abandoned, starved and abused get a chance at real life with a family. As a cardiac survivor, I feel like I still look for new challenges to prove to myself that I'm not "broken" and that you can recover and even get better.
The JBMV community is strong, and Hyun felt like he got a lot of welcome support for his effort.
I’ve always said the greatest asset of the JBMV community is the people that are its members. Going back to when I was Board President of the MVA, the membership is like a big loving supporting family. Aaron Bernson gave me lots of training advice and tips, and Ken Dong held me at the start, lent me equipment, and called out splits. JBMV also were also hugely supportive of the fundraising effort as well. When I had a cardiac arrest two years ago, the JBMV community was so helpful and supportive in terms of offers to help out and kind notes. It made a huge difference when I was in the hospital.
Since Amara put up this challenge with little advanced warning, many of the participant have been going for it with minimal discipline-specific training. Sprinter Lee adjusted his training before the attempt.
I did lots of training to dial in the comfortable aero positioning on the Lemond Revolution trainer, longer interval rides (30 minutes) to find a comfortable and sustainable gear. Aaron Berntson was hugely helpful in terms of advising me to do 30 minute efforts to see what was sustainable. As a cardiac survivor, training in a certain zone was really important for me. Finding the right cadence and gear was a big part. The mental training was the hardest because a one hour ride is so much longer than what I normally train/race in. The worry was that I would start too hard, blow up and need to claw myself out of a hole. Pacing was key. I also didn’t understand that you couldn’t use a speedometer until a few days before the event, and that was really hard. After the first seven laps, I was in mental limbo until five minutes to go.
My big goal was to pace myself and complete the event without subconsciously sabotaging myself by going out too hard at the start and being anaerobic from minute one. I didn’t really have a goal because it was so different from my normal events. I thought 22 miles would be reasonable but 24 miles or 40 K would have been awesome. 36.79 km is about 23 miles so I met my initial goal. I think I could have gotten to 40 K but somewhere in the middle 20 minutes, my muscles started seizing up so needed to ease up and I just lost track of time. I definitely want to do this again.
One Hour Time Trial Results
Henry Kaeser(16) - 40.520km He was attempting to break his own record (42.268k) this year but didn't quite get it
Kelly Dahlin (16) - 40.094km (new junior women record); Junior women did not have a previous record
Peter Gilchrist (16) - 36.404km
Will Fowler (15) - 36.513km
Danielle Scoville (14) - 33.503km
Max Haggard - 45.984km (new elite men record)
Becca Kawaoka - 41.812km (new elite women record)
James Campbell-Harris - 39.324km
David Gilchrist - 37.450km
Hyun Lee - 36.790km