What I’ve Learned from LETTS

little egypt time trial series flyer.A few months ago a few Southern Illinois cyclists started a series of Time Trials called Little Egypt Time Trial Series.  It’s totally low key, unsanctioned, fun racing.  I expected a group of maybe 10-15 riders and hoped that maybe 5-10 of them would make it for our bi-weekly meets.  As of our last meet we’ve had 37 different people show up for meets and turnouts ranging from 8 to 19 riders.  I think we’re all pretty thrilled about how it’s gone on.


Since I rarely do competitive events riding five of these time trials has taught me a few things.  Here they are.

I’ve learned that racing is about math, in that I mean the simple ratio of w/kg.  Simply how many watts you can produce compared to the weight of your body.  I knew this, I’m up on the Tour de France, I know that a winner needs a ratio of around 6.5 watts for every kilogram in the mountains.  Well we’re about as far away as you can get from the Alps but the math follows you.  Three of the five courses have featured a climb of around 100-200 feet, only one was really flat, and the other was rolling.  Now the guys that are faster than me, are faster, but Strava usually estimates that we have similar average wattage numbers even though I’m maybe 2 minutes behind them.  Point being that I’m 2 minutes behind because I’m carrying 40 or 50 pounds more then them.

Math aside I’ve watched as lighter riders easily blow my doors off up a hill moving twice my speed while I woller behind powerless.  I knew this going in, but it’s been reinforced by the time trials.  So since we started them back in April how much weight have I lost?  Zero, in fact I may have even gained a pound.  I’m sure most drug addicts know that drugs are bad for them, just like I know that alot of the crap food I eat is bad for me, I just keep doing it.

I’ve learned that suffering is universal.  In our races I typically pass a couple riders and get passed by a few riders.  Everyone is suffering, no one is having an easy go of it.

I’ve learned the power of motivation.  LETTS is a charity, no one is getting anything out of this other then bragging rights, but still when a rider is on the clock they are giving it 100% I have ridden harder on these time trials then I ever have in my life.

I’ve learned that if you build it they will come.  When people coalesce around something they all love it’s a pretty awesome thing.

I’ve learned that timing a time trial is really difficult, so thanks Strava.

I’ve learned that time trials are the safest form of racing there is, well other then comparing max wattage on a trainer I guess.  In 5 meets we’ve had no accidents.

I’ve learned that there is always someone faster.  There’s a particular guy who is so strong that I really didn’t think he’d finish less then first place in any time trial he attempted.  Then some guy shows up and beats him.

I’m sure I’ve learned other things as well but I’m really glad that I had some friends support this idea and we’ve had lots of riders come out and race.


About Matt Gholson

Cycling, school teaching, husband.
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