I have ridden plenty of organized rides in the Seattle area (STP, RSVP, 7Hills, the long-gone Rapsody and Seattle Century, and more), but I had never ridden anything “competitive”. And certainly nothing resembling a time trial.
But the conditions looked good: off-street, asphalt trail, 11.5 miles total distance, and (judging by last year’s results), a fairly mixed and not too intimidating field of riders.
So, on short notice, I signed up and did it.
First of: it was an incredibly well-organized event. Thanks to the people who put it on, and credits to the many volunteers who made it all possible and smooth. The conditions were perfect: an extremely good trail, level, mostly in the shade. Weather dry and warm, but not too hot. Out of a field of about 50 participants total, roughly a dozen or so were competitive or club riders, and through their presence gave the whole event a sense of discipline and style.
The ride itself was a lot of fun. Organized century rides tend to be fairly informal and low-key affairs, so it was an exhilarating contrast to start off by having two people holding you up, fully clipped in, while the race director counts down the seconds. (The organizers did a very proper job.)
It was also interesting to ride primarily for speed, rather than endurance (as on a century) — and with a competitive mindset. I had set myself a goal of 35 minutes for the distance; in the end, my finishing time of 35:46 was close enough for me to feel accomplished, in particular since I haven’t been on a bike for nearly three years for various reasons (mostly Covid19 and the overcrowding of Seattle trails).
And it provides a baseline to improve on next year…