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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