For a few corners more

If you have every read my race reports you know I usual go into a race with a plan. Today my plan if you could call it that was cornering practice. As the new course at the Motorplex is best described as a hot dog on a stick, it was the regular short criterium course with two added 90 degree corners and a 180 turn roundabout in addition to a narrow 90 degree corner I have had trouble with in the past, a fast sweeper and that downhill 180 degree hotdog that has caused me so many problems in the past. The 30 kph gusting to 50 kph easterly was going to make it even more challenging.

I arrived early and did a lot of practise laps. After a couple of scares with the wind, I found I was comfortable with the new corners. It took me a number of attempts to nail the tight corner, Unlike the hotdog turn, I rode it once and did it so well, I was confident enough to shorten my practise laps, so I could spend more time on the other corners.

It was only then I went and registered to race, the options were to register for D grade with Tom, Eddy and Phil who would make it a tough competitive race. Or register for C grade and race in D grade with young Lachlan, who after an impressive 2nd last week in D, bumped himself up a grade. Only to find two riders nominating for C grade (the other was racing in B).

My race philosophy is that this is a club race with a bunch of riders of different abilities, you do not attack from the start and try and drop people. You try and keep the group together for at least the first half of the race, before making them suffer.

I was more than happy to go to the front, set a decent pace to discourage riders from attacking and making sure I have a clean line through the corners. I spent most of the first few laps on the front. Approaching the hotdog corner the first time, Simmo overtook me with the comment “I am not following you through that corner” expecting me to have problems. Instead I carried more speed through the corner than him and had to brake to avoid collecting him. Next lap he did the same, I was prepared, I carried more speed and a tighter line through the corner, passing him on the exit. He did not try that again or comment on my cornering.

After a three laps, I dropped back to mid pack, I did no enjoy it. So instead of dropping back as the ticket collector, I moved forward stay in the first 3 or 4 riders for the rest of the race. This was very different from my usual tactics, but I was enjoyed it.

After 5 laps or so, I could see young Lachlan getting ready to attack on the exit of the hotdog turn on the outside. So I kept a good inside line and started chasing as he attacked. In the power to weight ratio stakes, I was a poor second and he got a small break.

Half a lap later on the exposed back straight Lachlan was struggling. This is were my brute power and half decent aero position was to my advantage and I dragged him back. The remains of the bunch was on my wheel. Apparently they were willing to let Lachlan go solo, but did not want the two off the front. The attack and chase had destroyed the bunch, only 5 remained of the dozen who started.

The next few laps, the pace was a little faster, to make sure none of the the dropped riders could get back on. Lachlan did one more attack, again I chased, but without a sense of urgency and pulled him back on the back straight again.

Getting close to the 35 minute mark, I attacked up the finishing straight, to see who had legs left. The bad news it was not me and everybody was on my wheel as we got the bell. I stayed on the front and drove hard out of the corners. Approaching the tight corner which I had not been riding well in the race. I could hear somebody about to attack. Just before the corner Tom can flying past and took the corner at speed. I gave him a little room, did not take the corner well, but carried plenty of speed and took off in pursuit. Onto the back straight and I had caught Tom, both of us were spent. The other 3 came past and the pace increased, I was last through the hotdog and gained a little on Tom. Lachlan bounded away up the straight for the win, with Eddie and Phil in his wake, I never got round Tom and finished 5th.

Overall, I was happy with my performance, especially on the corners. I rode up front for all of the race and could anticipate and respond to the attacks. My tactics were my weak point. I should of left Lachlan off the front for longer, the wind would of sapped his energy quickly. I should of let the others chase down Tom, except he attacked on my weak point and it was my pride that drove me to pull him back. I also knew with that dig up the finishing straight the 2nd last time, I was not racing for the win, I had used all my energy up.

So my next race should be my last D grade club race at Peel. By the time the road race season starts, I should of recovered from my time off with the broken collarbone and subsequent virus. I will be capable of riding and staying with C grade, I probably will not be capable of being competitive straight away, but that will come.

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