It was a case of mission accomplished for Caitlin Conyers who executed her plan to perfection to place seventh in the women’s time-trial at the Pan American Games yesterday.
Conyers, a self-confessed time-trial junkie, produced one of her best performances at an international competition by a Bermudian cyclist in recent memory in her first major multi-sport event.
The 29-year-old, who only started competing seriously about two years ago, completed the 17-kilometres San Miguel Circuit in a time of 26min 39.45sec — 3:02.18 behind race winner Chloe Dygert, of the United States, who finished in 23:36.51.
“I’m relieved,” Conyers said. “I’ve been so nervous thinking about it because almost all of my training has been towards the Pan Ams.
“I’ve been really focusing on the time-trial because that’s what I love. It’s the easiest race to set a personal goal.
“It was a tough course. I had the American, Chloe Dygert, who started four minutes behind me, coming flying past at the bottom of the hill. I was just watching her in awe and thinking, ‘How is she doing this’.”
Most satisfying for Conyers, who races locally for Bicycle Works, was achieving her goal of hitting an average time of 25½ miles per hour.
“I knew I needed to do a time of 27 minutes to do that,” Conyers said.
“I was planning on it being a headwind going out and a tailwind on the way back, which would have been ideal, but we had a tailwind going out, so I ended up going a bit faster than I expected. I knew coming back was going to be a bit harder as that’s where the two big hills were. I was at about 26 miles per hour going into the second hill and my average speed came down to 26 at the top.
“I ended up doing an average of 25.8 miles per hour. I’m really happy with my performance; it went exactly as planned.”
Conyers, who earned Bermuda a berth at the Pan Am Games by winning a silver medal at the Caribbean Cycling Championships in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic last October, added: “I actually liked the course. The hills suited me and worked to my advantage.”
Having exceeded her expectations in her strongest discipline, Conyers said she intends to enjoy a pressure-free ride in the road race on Saturday, where she will be joined by Nicole Mitchell, who came nineteenth out of 21 riders in the time-trial.
“It’s so great to have Nicole in the road race,” Conyers said of her team-mate, who received a late invite to the Pan Am Games. “She’s super experienced and reads the race really well. Hopefully she will be able to tell me what I’m doing wrong and what I’m doing right.”
Mitchell, who has made the road race her priority in Lima, said she was satisfied with her time-trial display considering the lack of time she had to prepare for the event.
“I feel like I’m in good shape and today went as well as I could expect,” said Mitchell, who finished in 29:43.02. “I’m just happy to be here representing Bermuda.
“I was just trying to keep it consistent and stay in the hurt locker. The goal was to just give it my best, open my legs up and get used to the hype and calm some nerves. I think I accomplished that.”
As for the road race, a 48-kilometres course at the same venue as the time-trial, Mitchell said she will be assisting the relatively inexperienced Conyers as much as possible.
“It’s going to be a race of attrition and my goals are to position myself well and stay within the pack and in a good draft,” said Mitchell, who rides for Winners Edge in Bermuda.
“It’s a big advantage [for Conyers] to have me here. If something happens, if she needs a wheel, or if she needs to be pulled back, I can work to position her a lot better within in the pack.
“It also helps to have more than one person covering moves so if the early break goes we can both be covering attacks. In terms of getting a result for Bermuda, the more riders you have in the road race the better it is.”