Can’t corner, can’t sprint

Race Report PDCC D Grade Criterium Motorplex 24 Feb 2013

Can’t corner, can’t sprint, pretty lousy crit rider with a half decent motor is a fair description of me. Racing my least favourite circuit with two corners that cause me trouble, a single lane 90 degree right hander, with no room for error and a hairpin that leads onto the uphill finishing straight, I had no great expectations and a simple plan, keep my head down, stay in the front half of the pack and see what happens in the end. And to top it off it was windy as usual at the Motorplex, a 20kph gusting to 30kph South Easterly, which meant you were riding in a crosswind for almost all of the exposed course except a short downhill section and headwind for the finishing straight. Add to that 21 riders in D grade, one of our biggest fields of the season and it was going to be an interesting race for me.

As we rolled up to the start, a friend who just finished C grade told me whatever you do, stay on a wheel. I rolled out at the head of the pack, after being caught out last time I raced here with early attacks. I got through the first corner on the front and waited to see what was going to happen and they all slowed and bunched up. So I sat on the front at my own pace, keeping the group strung out, throwing in little digs, every now and then, accelerating hard out of a corner or up the main straight to make sure they worked. Occasionally a rider would attack, usually on the back straight, I never countered, kept on a steady pace and half a lap later after they found the wind on the finishing straight, they where back in the bunch.

After six laps of me sitting on the front, one of the stronger riders attacked, the bunch reacted, I settled in a little further down the peleton, to watch the show. Which at times was hard to follow, due to the number of riders spread over the course. There was a combined A & B grade (because the state crit championships was on elsewhere today), which had exploded scattering riders and there was a few D graders way off the back. I just made sure I was never far off the front of the dwindling group, when the bell rang, there was only 5 left, and the pace picked up dramatically. Slow out of the tight right hander, but I rode hard down the back straight, was back on well before the final corner. A little wider and slower than I hoped, in fifth but not far from the front, drove hard, past the young guy who had been off the front for a couple of laps, getting closer through the final kink. Then the 1st two accelerated away from me, as I sprinted with my muscles shaking from side to side to claim third by less than half a wheel.

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