That burning feeling

PDCC D Grade Wandi 13 July 2013

Riding out to the race, I got to the top corner of the course and had trouble breathing and cursed myself for leaving my asthma medication at home. I only need it once or twice a year, and today was one of those days. A couple of kms later my lungs where working fine, and I had almost forgotten about it when the race started. I did not realise it at the time the property on the corner was burning off (using fire to control vegetation) and the smoke was going to make the racing very challenging for me.

A case of deja vu, Tom took off from the line like a rider on a mission. For exactly the same reason as the last time we raced here, I chased him. However this time I had a few more riders on my wheel. I swung off and saw I had some of the sprinters working really hard with a small break over the rest of the field. As we hit the bottom of the climb up Bodeman road, I heard the bunch was together, so I attacked. I flew up the climb and at first I was worried that nobody would follow. As I went down the other side, I saw the shadow on my wheel, it was Don, one of my first lap breakaway companion for the last race here.

I worked well with Don, still had a gap as we past the start finish line. On the climb up Wandi road where we caught last time, David Porter came across as did Tom who started all this. The rest of bunch was spread out behind us.

The four of us started working well together, until we approached the top corner and my lungs where on fire. I also managed to make a mistake on the turn. So a few hundred metres up the road, I was halfway between the breakaway and the bunch and unlikely to get back to the breakaway, so I sat up.

There was only 7 left in the bunch, and while they where working together, they were not working well together. Once my lungs had recovered I started taking turns and promptly got yelled at for going too fast, by setting a pace to match the breakaway. It quickly became obvious that the bunch was not going to catch the breakaway, so when Calum went off the front, I quickly joined him.

After a lap, Calum one of the sprinter I was trying to put into difficultly on the first lap, was struggling on the climbs. I knew I could get away on any of the six short climbs on the course. I decided it was going to be on the last lap, the pair of rises just after the top corner and then TT my way 2.5km to the finish. At that time I had not realised how bad the smoke at that corner was for my asthma.

On the last lap Calum was struggling on the first climbs, I did slow to encourage him, hoping to get some help up the back straight, to keep away from the bunch, who where capable of catching us. But after the second climb, I settled down to sitting on TT pace in preparation for tomorrows TT and left Calum behind.

Heading to the top corner, I could see Calum was catching me and the remains of the bunch not far behind. Not a problem, all I had to was hit the the two rises hard, drop Calum and do a VO2max interval on my way to 4th place. Except before I hit the first rise, my lungs where on fire, I was struggling hard to even keep threshold pace. So I just kept riding, not expecting Calum to be able to help out. I knew from past experience, I should recover before the finish and be able to kick. So as we approached the finish I kept the pace high, trying to keep away from the bunch and hopefully drop a tired Calum. With 500m to go I kicked as hard as I could, but it was not really much more that a decent acceleration, Calum hung onto my wheel and went past with 200m to go. Managed to stay away from the bunch, by 10 seconds but we all where more than 2 minutes behind the 3 in the breakaway.

While I feel pretty rough crossing the finish line, my lungs had not fully recovered from the last dose of smoke, it was not as bad as Calum who pull over and promptly threw up. Lessons learnt for next time, a tired sprinter still has a sprint, though I do not have to worry about Calum a fourth place today was enough to get him promoted and always take my inhaler.

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