West Coast Masters
C Grade Road Race
25 May 2014
After my last WCMCC race, where I rode at the back of the bunch for almost the whole race, I was going to ride close to the front for as much as possible. Especially seeing it was a strong westerly, other than the climb up Bodeman Road was into a headwind, the rest of the race was in crosswinds, which was going to make the gentle climb up the exposed Lyon Road interesting.
First lap, sat behind the three Rider Choice riders as they attempted to control after the race. Which they did for the first of eight laps. Next lap a couple of other riders took over at the front, I stayed in the first six or so, until we crested the last of the little ramps on De Haas Road, the pace slowed. So I went to the front and rode hard. Not to get away, but to make it hard. After a couple of Ks I rolled off and slide back in the bunch.
The next lap at the back was interesting, I quickly identified the half dozen or so riders I wanted to be infront of before the sprint. I ended up on the brakes as often as when I rode WCMCC D grade on the same course last year, vowing never again. Today was no different with riders being unpredictable, particularly braking on the descents before the climbs up Bodeman Road.
On the fourth lap approaching the first climb up Bodeman Road, I could see Darren (who was riding his first WCMCC race, but races a grade above me at PDCC), another strong rider I recognised and two others get a small break. I was not going to let them get away and gave chase. Crested the first climb, at the head of the pursuing pack and got hit in the face by the headwind. Still, with another rider we dragged the four escapees back. Heading up Lyon Road, I was hurting and realised most would be in a similar state, so I attacked coming out of the roundabout.
Got a gap quickly, I was hoping another rider or two would join me. When nobody did, I adjusted my pace to survive four laps off the front solo. It took a few Ks, before the bunch decided I was not going to drop back and reacted.
Spent the next the next lap and a half moving around the bunch, reinforcing my view that the back of pack was not the place to be. I was close to the front early on the sixth lap when Darren and another rider attacked. I did not react, I wanted to watch what happened. One of the stronger riders went to the front and chased for most of a lap, without any help. Then at the end of seventh lap another team sent a rider to the front, who closed the gap with a fast turn.
The bunch then slowed, Bodeman Road was the usual chaos of riders on their brakes. So over the big 400m climb I went to the front, accelerated hard on to Lyon and waited for another rider to come with me. When nobody did, I settle to riding on the front, as nobody else wanted to. I was not pushing hard and everybody was putting in similar effort with the crosswind. My logic was I would be in the top half dozen down De Haas Road. So if the pace was slow, I could attack. And if the pace was up I would be in a good position for the sprint.
I swung on to De Haas Road, gave it a little dig, then slowed. A rider came past and I made the decision to jump on his wheel and if possible get off the front with him. First ramp I worked hard to get on his wheel, second ramp I struggled to stay on his wheel. Third ramp I was swallowed up by the fast moving bunch.
I ended up hanging on the back of the pack, trying to recover and then work my way forward. Which is not easy travelling at close to 50kph. In the last K, I had to touch the brakes a couple times as riders made unpredictable moves. Still ended up 22nd out of 30 finishers. It might of been a different story if I had not chased the rider up the final short ramps, but that was a decision I made.
After the race, I spoke to Darren. He was trying to convince me to join him in B grade in a couple of races time. He thinks I am strong enough. He also had the similar issues with unpredictable riders and the number of times he braked.
I think it will take me a couple more races, as I need to gain confidence in riding in bunches and get a willingness to ride closer to the front and defend my position in the group.
PS Best sponsor of a race Prinz of Vienna, not only providing prize money and prizes (cakes) but also samples for everybody who finished.