Master Nationals Time Trial 2009
The 2009 Masters Nationals Time Trial, held in Taylorsville, KY, was my 8th time participating in this USA Cycling championship event. Oddly enough my best placing was the very first year I rode it in 1997 where I took 14th place in the 40k with time of around 56:40 or 26.3 mph. My fastest avg mph was in Spokane ,WA where I rode at over 28 mph but finished 25th. My worst placing was 36th in Seven Springs, PA where we rode in the rain on a course with 50 mph descents and 14 mph ascents. I've been 17th and 18th a couple times and finished 21st this year with a time of 32:25 or 27.3 mph. My finish time each year usually puts me in the top 50% of riders in my bracket.
You may wonder, as I do sometimes, why I keep going back when I'm not really in the running for the medals given to the top 5 spots. I guess the main reason is to simply participate and to walk away knowing that while I'm not going to be invited to the world championship that I'm at least still competitive within my age bracket. I think that as you get older (I'm 47) that you tend to have a greater appreciation for the continuing commitment to fitness that is needed to keep riding local, state and national events and to still ride them fast. To actually ride faster each year, even just a little bit, is a motivating factor in my desire to keep going to these events. I never take my fitness for granted, and I don't plan on backing down any time soon from my regimen. I just told my coach that if I don't get any slower, and maybe even get faster over the next ten years like I have over the previous ten, that a top 5 finish may just happen. Sounds like I'm already talking myself into another long winter in the basement on the trainer hammering out intervals.
A great part about riding nationals is being able to compare yourself to other riders from around the country not only in your bracket but also those below and above you. In the men's 30-34, the winner this year rode the course in 29:20. He's also a recent world time trial champion. Its a big three minutes between his time and mine, but at least I know where I stand. If you take my time up the brackets, I'd be 8th in the 50-54 and 3rd in the 55-59. Remarkably in the 60-64 I'd only get 2nd with the winner beating me by 39 seconds. Essentially I can't get any slower over the next 15 years and I have to hope that most of the faster riders decide that they have enough national jerseys and medals. If it all plays out the way I hope maybe someday I'll actually have to wait around for the medal ceremony, someday.
I always mention in my time trial clinics and spinning and circuit training classes that the only reason we lose fitness as we age is that we stop challenging ourselves. In some cases, we stop training all together. If you want to see what a 60+ year old person is capable of, check the results for Masters Nationals. At some point, you make a commitment to staying active and pushing yourself to new levels of fitness or you decide that watching television is all that life has to offer. I'll take finishing in the middle of the pack in a national event anytime.