Last race in club D grade?

PDCC Criterium Championship D grade

Smeaton Way, Rockingham
30 March 2014

Nick on the front of the bunch, photo by Alison Ramos

My strategy for the race was decided by the field which included Tyler a young track sprinter. I have raced and ridden enough with Tyler to know that I can not match him in a sprint. To win I need to break away either solo or in a small bunch that did not include Tyler. So I was going to attack early and often to try and establish a break.

I was not the only one, Eddy attacked first time down the back straight. He was quickly joined by Tyler, I was not going to let that pair get away and was quickly on Tyler’s wheel. The rest of the bunch was not going to let anybody get away and chased back on.

Up the main straight, I went to front and drove hard, down the back straight Eddy took over and that was how the race evolved over the first few laps. I like to think I am the strongman of D grade. Today Eddy was the strongest and drove the bunch hard. After a few laps, Fraser launched a well timed attack, which neither me or Eddy could respond. That did not matter another rider closed the gap.

That was pretty much the rest of the race, Eddy driving hard on the front, me driving hard or attacking, Fraser counter attacking. There was always somebody chasing us down. Even with me and Fraser attacking over the top of each other down the back straight, the reduced bunch never far behind.

It looks like I lost the title as one of the worst cornerers in the grade. When on the back straight, the bunch slowed and swung wide, I went underneath took the corner which had already claimed a few B grade riders, late and hard, then drove out the other side. Swinging on to the main straight I had a good gap, and knocked back the pace from escape to TT to the end pace. Tactical blunder as I got hauled back in half a lap later as B grade caught us.

This was the only breather in the race, before hostilities resumed half a lap later. Somebody was attacking or keeping the pace high. I was one of the major culprits, I knew I was not going to get away, but I made the race hard for everyone. I saw the bell and made one last attack to no avail. The bunch caught me and then slowed. I stayed close to the front, but made another blunder and missed Eddy picking up the pace. I picked up a couple of places went into the final corner in about 6th place, I would of preferred to been a few places further up. But was happy to be on the wheel of one of the better sprinters.

Out of the corner the real wheel in front started drifting out, then my rear wheel felt like it got a puncture there was no control and I was drifting my rear wheel as well. Off the power, looked to see if I had a problem and by then it was all over. Tyler can off Eddy’s wheel and won by a good margin. Eddy finished 2nd and I rolled across the line 7th.

I realised after the race, when two others also complained of riding out of the final corner on what felt like a rear puncture, that after 100 dry days, the 2mm of rain the night before caused 100 days of oil, diesel and other muck to rise to the surface. The line we took through the final corner at speed went through a patch of oil and that was that. I am just glad it was the rear and not the front.

Overall I was a little disappointed, I made a couple of tactical errors and almost lost the rear wheel on the final corner. On the other hand I remained upright and punched out some good numbers for the first time this year. The same numbers as at the beginning of the season and close to my peak last crit season. I spent a lot of time on the front or near the front and my cornering has improved out of sight.

For the road season, barring injuries or similar I will be joining Tyler and Eddy in C grade. C grade holds little fear for me now I have improved my cornering. I need to compete at the higher level, I have the power for C, the cornering, I just need to make sure my racecraft and tactics improved.

Another reason is the other riders in D grade, in the first couple of laps, five riders went out the back as we attacked hard. The pace of the race was high 37.4kph according to my Garmin which was a full 5 seconds per lap faster than C grade (even after excluding their slow sighting lap, 165 seconds to 170seconds). Without me and Eddy, you will not get a race with three aggressive attackers, five chasers, everybody else hanging on for dear life and some not managing that.

But before then, I have two WCMCC C grade crits and an open D grade crit to race.

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