So Chairman May (that's actually the first time I've used that phrase, in thought, speech, or print, and it couldn't be any further from accurate, I just thought it was kind of funny when it popped into my head) is letting me use his TT bike this weekend. The catch of course is that I had to build it. The biggest bitch of the whole thing is tuning the housing lengths. Ideally, you'd have your bar position super dialed before you even cabled the thing. Sadly, I was at ground zero in terms of where the parts went. This led to me needing to recable the derailleurs, which is always fun. Fortunately, these run externally. And now I have two super fantastic tricks for internal cables (one for the bars, one for the frame - which this bike doesn't have, fortunately, but other bikes do).
Anyhow, I finally got out on the thing last night. It took a while to get the saddle anywhere near right, but once that happened, it was pretty easy to see that these TT bike things are missiles. It was tough to get the forearm position correct since I couldn't extend the clip-ons anywhere near enough (see derailleur housing), but I was able to shove the pads pretty far forward and then sort of steer with my wrists with my hands overhanging the front of the clip-ons. The only problem then was that my knees alternately whacked my elbows and the back of the clip-ons.
On a straight flat road, with normal helmet and my training wheelset, I was about 1.5 to 2 mph faster at threshold than I'd normally be on my road bike. And that's with a compromised position. I didn't get to the point of finding out if I can hold threshold in that position for the 28 minutes which is Sunday's goal time. The other thing is, when you are faster, you are way faster. I did a few tests on known down grades. On one, where coasting normally yields about 34 mph, I was coasting at 37.5, and the run out was just staggering. I was coasting at high speed (30+) on the flat after this grade for a LONG time.
The negative is that when you've lost speed, it seems harder to regain it. Your rhythm really needs to be good to momentumize yourself over rollers and stuff. If you lose speed, the alarms all go off and it's a bad scene.
If I was really going to try and roll a ridiculous time, it would have been good to start this whole process a month ago. As it stands, I'll probably get some benefit, maybe substantive, but definitely not all that's available. There's a risk of getting totally out of sorts on the way in and screwing up entirely.
At the end of the day, I'd be totally cool with the Merckx rule. I also understand that there are many people who really excel in TTs and have their positions wicked dialed and these events are their time to shine. It's never really all about the legs, right? Road races and crits are about legs + head + team + luck and whatever else. TTs are about legs + position + gear. MTB races are about legs + skeels + not breaking down or flatting.
Well, I've got my position a lot closer now than it was 24 hours ago. Hopefully it's enough to make a difference, and hopefully I don't get dropped on Saturday which would make all of this stuff irrelevant.