Another Saturday, another road race

PDCC D grade race Dog Hill 11 May 2013

Suf­fer­ing from a a mild head cold, I decided it was time to sit in the pack and see how I went in a bunch sprint, rel­at­ively fresh. You will get bored said a couple of my fel­low racers when the asked about my tac­tics for the day.

The first lap was a fairly decent pace, Matt one of the usual sus­pects and Nigel one of the new guys went off the front, but a 30 gust­ing to 40 kph head­wind, kept them in check and it was not long before Matt was back in the pack. Nigel las­ted most of the lap dangling off the front.

Recent road­works had made the cir­cuit more chal­len­ging, some sec­tions had be be resur­faced with smooth tar­mac. One rougher sec­tion had also been resur­faced, but it was covered with small stones, and these had col­lec­ted in num­ber on the turn into that sec­tion, which make the cor­ner­ing dif­fi­cult. The little lip on the bridge had gone, but the bridge sur­face was still rough and the shad­ows made the cross­ing a little disconcerting.

Second lap, into the head­wind sec­tion and Matt was just off the front again, the pack was just let­ting him die out there, crawl­ing along at 25 kph. Unhappy with the pace and the group bunch­ing up, I went to the front. Nobody jumped on my wheel, so I just sat on threshold pace, the pack was still back when I caught Matt and went to the front. Next couple of kms, just kept going at threshold pace, as we turned out of the head­wind, I knew I had more than one rider behind me, so I eased off the pace. I did not know that a couple of riders had decided that this was an attack to fol­low, and dragged the bunch up.

If someone went round me after the corner and kept going, I would of joined them, but nobody did, so I settled for tempo pace on the front. Until the loose stone sec­tion, let’s just say my cor­ner­ing was sketchy, but I stayed upright. Settled in at 3rd or 4th wheel, for that sec­tion, then over the bridge and as we hit the little rise I went to the front. I wanted to get a good look at last kilo­metre and work out where I needed to launch my sprint from, given that one bend in the road had be cor­doned off due to an incid­ence between rider and an amer­ican muscle car last time we raced here.

Past the start fin­ish and rolled to the back to grab a drink, got five minutes of rest, before we hit the head­wind sec­tion again. So onto the front, for a few kms of threshold, turned off and this time some­body else took up the pace mak­ing. Dropped back, before the entrance to the loose stone sec­tion, but took the corner slightly bet­ter this time, though I am cap­able of much bet­ter, but my con­fid­ence was shaken. I knew I had to be closer to the front next time through the loose stone section.

On to the final lap, the bunch slowed in to the head­wind sec­tion, but I did not go to the front, just sat at the back, round the corner and then the next on to the loose stones sec­tion in last place. The pace was on, but I had no trouble in mov­ing up, by the time we hit the bridge, I was close to the front and could see another rider off the front. I didn’t react and stayed with the bunch, my men­tal map of the course deser­ted me as I made my way to the front too early. With just under a kilo­metre to go, I was 4 deep on the front and sit­ting on 45kph, my options where lim­ited, so I decided to stay put, hug­ging the inside of the centre line. The rider off the front is com­ing back to us.

With about 600m to go, I see an amer­ican muscle car head­ing in the oppos­ite dir­ec­tion. No other option, a quick touch of the brakes, a quick accel­er­a­tion and I am on the back of the bunch. The car passes safely, I swing out to attack at my chosen point and I have abso­lutely noth­ing in my legs, I can not accel­er­ate, so with my legs scream­ing in pain, I roll across the line to fin­ish 10th.

The only good news is that Matt wins his first D grade race, so I would like to think I had an influ­ence on the race res­ults. After the race, I was try­ing to fig­ure out my poor per­form­ance, did I work too hard dur­ing the race, did I get to the front too early on, was it just bad luck with big amer­ican muscle cars. I now real­ise that the biggest con­trib­ut­ing factor was my cold, the next day I was strug­gling to com­plete easy phys­ical tasks. Sure if I didn’t go to the front so early or did not have to brake and then accel­er­ate because of oncom­ing traffic, I might of pick up a few spots, but my cold was the lim­it­ing factor.

The jury is still out on sprint fin­ishes for me. I need a bit more con­fid­ence and assert­ive­ness to hold my place in the bunch. So next time may be I will be the lone attacker with a kilo­meter to go, even though today he fin­ished last.

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