A bunch of rookie mistakes

Rolling downhill with a deflating rear tyre

Rolling downhill with a deflating rear tyre : photo courtesy Garry Hastie

Over 50s 56km support race
Collie Donnybrook Return Classic
16 August 2014

I entered the over 50s support 56km scratch race at the Collie Donnybrook Return Classic, so I could get a look at the tough half of the course without having to ride the full 106km race at threshold. I was glad I did when I saw the limit group for the main race contained three Peel riders who out performed me at the two recent hilly handicaps.

I only knew two riders in my race, Pete who rides A grade at Peel & WCMCC and Mike almost a local who rides C grade at WCMCC. The aim was to stay with Pete and most of the bunch, till we hit the big climb on the way back, when Pete should blow everyone away. Then hopefully stay with Mike and a few others up the climb and get a top ten in Collie. This was going to be more interesting as they combined over 50s and the open support race, as the later only had about 10 riders, compared to the over 50s twenty or so.

I sat mid pack for the first few kilometres as everybody began to work things out. First little dip before a little climb, everybody slowed, which meant I had to work harder up the other side. So next little dip before a climb, I went to the front drove down the short descent and the first part of what turned out to be a not so little hill. after a couple minutes on the front, I eased off the pedals, Pete went past and I slowed a little more to see the reaction. The bunch reacted quickly, riders either side of me chasing Pete. So I slotted in to my usual position of ticket collector of a bunch of 15 riders. Which was the wrong move. As we were still climbing and a rider was dropped. No issues for me to go past and get back on, the first time, or the second time. However, the third time, I got past the two riders but not could get on the back of the bunch.

Over the climb, no real descent or chance to get back on. Just a break before more climbing. This is where I lost all chance to get back on, it was not a difficult climb, but I am not a climber and I was spent. A couple of riders went past me, a bit later up the climb I went past a couple of riders. Over this climb there was proper descending, I have recovered and was powering over any slight rises. I could see what I believed to be the spares car following our bunch and I was slowly gaining on them.

Then my back wheel felt soft, pulled over and my rear was deflated. In the rush to get going this morning, I forgot to pack a tube and inflator in my jersey. So race over, I walked back to the base of the climb and found a lift back to Collie.

I made so many basic mistakes in this race:

  • Attacking on unknown course, I had no idea what was next, yet I drove hard, expecting a short climb and the chance of recovery, only to find more climbing.
  • Measure your effort, the 90 second drive into the climb, the power output was a personal best over that time and the next few minutes my power almost matched the peak output I did in a 25 minute criterium. I did not need to put that much effort. I was not trying to get away, I was just trying to keep the pace high.
  • Stay as close possible to the front on a climb. Do not sit at the back, you have to get passed dropped riders.
  • Pack a puncture repair kit. If I replaced the tube in a couple of minutes, I would off lost at most a couple of places and still had a chance of a top 10 finish.

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