Whitney Allison of Hagens Berman Supermint Women’s Professional Team recently competed at the US Pro Nationals Time Trial in Knoxville, TN, where she sat in the hot seat all day, ultimately finishing 7th. Photos courtesy of SnowyMountain Photography.
How’d the race go down for you?
The course was new this year- I had a good idea of what a good time might be, guessing that under 30 minutes would be the race winning time. I was in the first of three waves, at the end. On most days in Knoxville, it would be advantageous to go first because of the heat, but with a storm rolling it, the weather wasn’t too hot.
My teammate Jen Leubke (who ultimately finished 1 second(!) ahead of me) and I pre-rode the course again that morning so we could see how the turn-arounds were set up. With 3 per lap and 6 total, they were important spots where time could be lost. The key to a warm-up is to touch on the efforts you’ll need to do in a time trial, but not to burn your matches yet. I quickly moved my way through tempo, sub-threshold, threshold, and a few anaerobic efforts before hitting the start line. Topical Edge and some caffeine to round out the prep.
I had the course divided into sections in my head…the flats I knew I could hold threshold+, on the inland section I would go solidly anaerobic up to the turn around and rest a bit on the way back to the river after regaining speed, and on the hills I would max out for a 35-1:15 effort, recovering on the downhills. Fortunately, my training is tough so I am able to recover quickly.
My time, 31:14.5, was good enough to sit in the hot seat through the first and second wave. Unfortunately, it wasn’t quite good enough for wave #3. The winning time came from World Champ Amber Neben 29:43.6. Last year I finished over two minutes down from her so it was definitely something to celebrate that that gap was much closer this year. I ended up slotting into 7th.
With my race schedule including a ton of road racing and crits and a lot of time on the road, I haven’t gotten to spend as much time on the TT bike as I would like…maybe a dozen riders or so since February. Having more time on it to be comfortable in the aero position would go a long ways for me. It’s a goal for next year!
Which coach do you work with and how did your training help you prepare for the event?
I work with Adam Mills. I’m naturally a power rider but having all those anaerobic tools and quick recovery in my pocket, I can really take advantage on courses like this. I also like to walk through time trials the night before with my husband and SE coach Zack Allison to plan out my pacing…I get to visualize and plan in one go and head to bed with confidence. All that is left the next day is to execute!
What advice do you have for someone up and coming in your cycling discipline?
If you want to do well in a TT, knowing the course is essential…pre-ride and spend some time visualizing after you’ve pinned down your strategy…live it a few times in your mind so that day-of you just have to execute. For a newer rider, it might be tempting to go all out the whole time, but really the trick is to use course features to your advantage. You won’t gain as much time going all-out on a fast downhill as you could if you conserved on the downhills and saved that match for a punchy climb.