Not the way I want to drop riders

PDCC D grade Serpentine 20 July 2013

Felt like a cold was coming on, so I decided I would race within myself, ride conservatively, with an aim to finish in the front half of the field and hopefully in the top four.

Got to the course and found a strong easterly headwind along the 3km finishing straight that reinforced that it was not going to be a good day for a breakaway, as was the extra lap over what we normally race here. Though when I saw what was probably the weakest field in D grade this year, missing Dave, Tom and Calum who finished ahead of me last week. Still it contained my usual breakaway companion Don as well as Phil, Simmo and Scott who usually out sprint me. Going off the front at some stage was tempting. Though once I smelt the smoke, and realised somebody to the east was burning off. I changed my mind and doubled checked that my inhaler was in a readily accessible positon. Which was good, because I ended up using every lap.

I settled down as ticket collector for the first couple of laps, which were at pretty ordinary pace. There were a few surges, as a couple of riders tried to attack. Most often Don. They caused little damage, often, I would drag one of the back markers back, after an acceleration. However, most the time they would of made it themselves as the attacks was short lived and the pace dropped quickly.

After one of Don’s attempts as we turned into the finishing straight, I could see and hear a few people in difficultly. One of them was Phil, always looking to improve my chances of winning, I went to the front and put in a hard turn. After a few minutes, I slid back and saw the bunch was reduced to 8, Phil was missing, one sprinter down, two to go. I was going to finish in the front half, as long as I kept with the bunch and we stayed away. Then unusually for our grade, the bunch under direction from Simmo, started working together, rolling through at decent pace for a lap and half to put distance between us and our pursuers. The level of cooperation could be consider a mark of respect or fear for the riders behind us.

Two laps after that surge, we turned onto the final straight, we saw Phil’s van parked on the side of the road, a few riders had stopped, including Phil’s daughters, who both race, one in our grade. We assumed that one of them had crashed. The next lap was at sombre pace, nobody was willing to work, I assume most of us wondering exactly what had happened. Next time round that corner, we were advise to watch out for the ambulance, though the spot where the van and bikes was now empty. Just before the start/finish line and the bell, the ambulance passed us and stopped at the Serpentine Equestrian Centre, where the race facilities are.

It was still a slow pace up Gull Road, when Scott put in an attack to try and shed a few riders, it did not work. So I tried and had the same result, but hopefully everybody had a little less energy to burn.

Turning onto Rapids Road and into the crosswind, we bunched up, nobody willing to set the pace or attack. Onto to Karnup Road for the final time, into the headwind and Don was setting a steady tempo up front and nobody was willing to up the tempo or attack. Simmo suggested that I followed his wheel, rather than both of us fighting for Scott’s wheel. I said OK but let me try something first, and stood up to launch a quick attack to see if I could stir things up. Unfortunately my left hamstring had other ideas, screamed in pain and I found myself sitting on the front alongside Don. I spent the next minute, spinning at a high cadence, trying to get the blood flowing and sooth the pain.

I eased back, as Don picked up the pace, I was now getting some protection from the wind, for all of minute, waiting for the attacks to come. And they did, 3 riders came past, a new rider who look like he was gone when we were rolling turn, was up and sprinting away, Simmo came off Scott’s wheel in pursuit but he was sprinting in the saddle and just could not match the speed and Scott just lacked his usual punch was trailing. Still I not could match him, as I was sprinting seated to. Don had faded on the inside and I had Arthur coming up the inside and Harry on the outside, managed to hold them off to claim 4th by 5cm.

Cool down was non existent as we headed off to find out what had happened. Phil was one of the fortunate 50% or so, who survive their first heart attack and was being taken to Fremantle Hospital for emergency surgery. Phil is never the type to do things small, not a little heart attack like me, a quick stent and back on your bike in a month. He is currently recovering and getting ready for quadruple bypass surgery in a few weeks. He has a long recovery ahead of him, but hopefully we will see him racing again.

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