My first handicap on a flat course, I previously raced North Dandalup handicap, but as it started with a 5km climb, it was literally every rider for themselves. Today was supposed to be different, you start in a small group, you work with that group to catch the riders in front and stay ahead of the riders behind.
My tactics where simple, work with my group and pace myself. Expect to get caught by the fast guys from D grade, I ride with them regularly and know their abilities and ride with them to the finish ahead of the pursuers.
I was racing with my power meter, for the 1st time in over a month, mainly so manage my effort and also to record my effort.
I was suffering a mild case of gastro, I did not think it was going to cause me any problem, I did no have anything in my stomach.
Rolled up to the line, to see Dave who I usually share ticket collecting duties (last rider in the bunch) in D grade, lining up with the limit group (first group away) with E grade. I started in group of 6, 4 D graders and Ben a new E grader who missed the start of the limit group. We started 7 minutes behind limit, 3 minutes ahead of strong D grade riders and 13 minutes ahead of scratch (the last group containing the best riders the A grades).
Everything went to plan for almost a lap. The group worked well, I took my turns, a minute or so on the front at 300w, a 30 seconds no efforts, 20 seconds of sprinting at 300w or more to get back on the group, 4 minutes at just under 200w, then repeat, we were averaging 38kmh. My heart rate was a little high, but I was not worried, I should of been able to keep this up for some time. Except we lost the new guy and Mark, about a third of the way into the lap. About two thirds way round, people started missing their turns, onto the home straight, with only two of us taking turns, then I was 4th and the front two were moving away. I spent the next couple of kms struggling to pull the two back and then I was in trouble.
The next lap, I managed to average 200w, but only 30kmh, I should of recovered by the time three fast D graders past me on the back straight, I tried to get on a wheel but could not managed it. On the finishing straight I was caught by Mark and Ben, stuck with them for the next half a lap, till they tagged on to the back of a fast moving C grade group. I was struggling now, suffering from cramps and only managing 180w and 28kmh,
The problem was I was seriously dehydrated. Normally I start a race well hydrated, but don’t drink much during a race and end it slightly dehydrated. Today, due to the gastro, I started dehydrated and it went downhill from there, it was warmer than usual, I worked harder at the beginning of the race, did not drink enough and even before finishing the first lap, I was done. I should of realised this and pull out before the end of the second time. Instead I pushed on trying to finish, even as I realised I was dehydrated. However, that was quickly put out of my hands. I managed to break another spoke on my powertap wheel. For the first time ever, it burst the tube with a bang, blew the tyre of my rim, locking my rear wheel. A controlled skid to a stop and managed to stay upright. Glad that did not happen in a bunch.
I could of repaired the damage, but given my condition and the probability of being lapped, I took the offer from our new commissaire and got a lift back to the finish and my first DNF
Lesson learnt today, understand your body better and when it does not perform properly, stop racing. Also replace all the spokes on my powertap wheel.