First I must say thanks to Trek for this “Once in a Lifetime” experience.
I flew out to L.A. California late on Thursday arriving to my hotel just before Midnight. First thing on Friday the entire Trek Travel group of dealers got on two busses and drove up to Lake Arrowhead Resort. We all got on the Trek Madone Road bikes and rode 30 miles of beautiful mountain climbing and descending to the stage finish at Big Bear Lake. We got to watch the finish of the pro stage with complete astonishment of the speed the pros can ride up the stellar climbs.
At 6:15 on Saturday morning the 4 Trek TT athletes got into a car with Trek President, John Burke, and he drove us down from Lake Arrowhead Resort to L.A. We stopped for a coffee and I got to get my favorite race day breakfast. The one and only breakfast of champions, McDonalds Hot Cakes and a large coffee. We got to the hotel in downtown L.A where Trek had bikes built up and ready to fine tune our fitting. It was now close to 9am. The four us us then rode the 1.5 miles to the start line. After a little searching we were able to fine the table for us to sign in. I was number 12 which meant my start time was 11:11AM. Kevin Ishaug and I took a quick warm-up lap on the course with about 20 minutes left to the TT start.
This is where the fun really started. We were started just as the pro cyclist are at every TT on the circuit. We were each introduced as we stepped up onto the start ramp. It was the same announcer that announced the race all week. We all left on 1 minute intervals with Chris Lieto leaving first. The four Trek TT dealer athletes left back to back with me being the last of the four. We all got a huge cheer as we took off and it truly felt as if we were the ones everyone was here to see. Two blocks into the ride each of us had two motorcycles lead us throughout the ride.
To make this ride as authentic as possible SRAM even had the neutral support vehicles out on the course. As I would catch the riders in front of me my lead motorcycles would be making good use of their horns and the other rider’s motorcycles would pull over and wait for me to pass. On my second lap I had the SRAM motorcycle following me and honking like mad as I passed a couple cyclists. As I ripped through some turns around the Staples Center I even heard the SRAM motorcycle scrape on the rough corners. As they went by it was clear they were enjoying themselves with us amateurs as much as with the pro cylclists.
The course was quite technical and quite rough in some sections. The course was a two lap 10.5 mile course. The loop was shaped like a dogbone. We started heading south and did a loop around the Staples Center. We headed back north to the start house and continued north to another loop. To finish the lap you rode south back to through the finish line where you did a u-turn and then rode 2 blocks to the start house. With the course the first lap is a little longer than the second. The north loop had two “climbs” on it. The first was short and steep and the second hill was longer but a little not quite as steep. However, the second hill is the one you could really get yourself into trouble on due to the length.
This was definitely a course that required real bike handling skills. Especially cornering. You had to ride with confidence and skill if you were to hope for a fast time. And this is where the bike was so impressive.
Nick Salazar took one a great picture of Kevin during the race.
Outside of doing a full review, I want to give you and idea of what I thought of the bike. I had never ridden the bike before 9:30 that morning and I had less than 12 miles on the bike before I raced. The bike had 172.5 cranks and I ride 180mm cranks on my bikes. The bike had enough adjustabiliy so I was able to easily make some adjustments to make it comfortable and ready to race. The hadling of the bike was quite “intuitive”. Although it felt different it didn’t feel wrong. I was able to ride extremely agressively on a bike that I had virtually no experience riding. The brakes were excellent and the line the bike was able to hold in the swirling wind was exactly what it should be.
For the overall time I have not seen official results but I am pretty certain I finished in 45:31. I think that comes to about 27.5mph. That makes me really happy considering I was riding a new bike with cranks that were 3 sizes shorter than I ride on my own bike. I heard the race announcer state that my first lap time was second fastest with a 23:31. Talking to Chris Lieto after the race (He flatted with a pinch flat on the extremely rough section of road around the Staples Center) he heard the race announcer state his first lap was 21:30. Assuming he second lap would also be 2 minutes faster than mine, like our first laps, his finishing time would have been aprroximantely 41:31.
When you compare times with the pro cyclist my time ranked about 45th or halfway down the field. I was about 3 minutes behind the fastest pro for the day. Chris would have had the fastest time of the day. Although Chris is a stud cyclist. He is a triathlete and spends a huge amount of time training for both swimming and running. What this shows is how incredibly hard the previous day’s 135 mile stage up to Big Bear lake really was.
Thank you again to Trek for arranging the TT and for giving me the opportunity to be the first to finish a race on the new Speed Concept 9.9.