Not a good day to climb

Dwellingup Handicap
31 May 2014

the sprint for 14th place

The sprint for 14th place photo by Peter Moyses

I was questioning why I wanted to race as I drove to Dwellingup, to put it mildly I was feeling crap. Not helped by jarring my right shoulder the day before. The collarbone I broke 5 months earlier was painful and my movements restricted. I was not going to be able to get out the saddle to climb, and with 6 kilometres of climbing at an average of 3%, with a kilometre of over 6% and pinches of over 10%, it was going to be interesting.

My warped logic for racing, was I never raced this event before, I had come down with a cold the last two years before this race and missed it. So I was willing to race below par (I have before), just to race this course. I was familiar with the climb from Pinjarra to Dwellingup having raced it in the Pinjarra Classic and reconned the course prior to that race. I had never ridden or even driven the section from Dwellingup to Pinjarra, but that was the reverse direction and a descent, how hard could it be.

I arrived late, my warmup consisted of riding from the registration desk to the toilet and then to the start line. I was in the third group 9 minutes behind limit and 11 minutes ahead of scratch. The group consisted of Bruce who I raced (read chased) on Saturdays for the past two season, when he was not in the grade above me. I was hoping his summer racing break had closed the gap between us. Lachlan a junior rider who out climbed me in recent criteriums and Ross the “new” guy.

After a couple of jokes about the new guy having to do all the work, Ross lead us off the line, but the pace was a little slow for my liking. So I went to the front for the first couple of kilometres to set a good pace and warm up. Once my heart rate hit 165 I rolled off the front, just as we approached a small step. All of a sudden I was behind Ross and the other two where 20 metres up the road and I could not respond. When we hit the descent proper I worked with Ross to try and chase the other two down. While the two appeared to split, we were not making any gains. Once we finished the descent, I lost Ross and settled down to the chase, hoping a change of direction and a headwind would slow the pair infront down, it did not.

At the turn around point, I had lost about 90 seconds to Lachlan and Bruce, and made up all of 30 seconds on the group in front. There was no way I was going to catch either group on my own, so I slowed to a tempo pace and waited for the group behind. The group consisted of 3 more experienced C graders and Ross who had joined them.

We worked as a group attempting to chase down the riders infront. I did not have much hope that we would catch Bruce and Lachlan, but the others were a possibility. We swept up the remnants of the first group and one straggler from the second group as we made our way to the climb. First losing Ross to a puncture, then one of my C grade rivals who wishes to remain nameless. Once we got to the climb, our group imploded and I was struggling out the back.

I made it up the first part of the climb without any issues, other than being passed by a single scratch rider who could climb. Got to a flatter section to be greeted by somebody burning off. My pace slowed, took my asthma medication and was caught by nameless rival. I sat on his wheel until the road started going upwards and he started struggling. I went to the front to climb at my own pace and was alone again. I managed to complete the climb while being passed by a handful of riders from A and B grade.

Over the top and started picking up speed, I thought I was doing well until a couple of kilometres from the finish I was caught by a B grade rider with my nameless rival on his wheel, so I tucked behind. The finish was a long uphill drag and I was quite happy to roll across the line at the back, when I saw my rival getting ready to jump. It was a matter of pride, my rival jumped early, I was on his wheel and went round him to claimed 13th place.

While I know I could not of out climbed Lachlan or Jordan another junior who finished second. I lost my chanced of a decent finish, before the race and in the first few minutes. I needed to decent warmup, recon as much of the course as possible and ride within my limitations (ie not feeling great). Instead I hammered at my usual fitness the first couple of kilometres, expecting to recover on the descent. Instead encounter a slight rise which caused me problems. At least I will know for next time which is only a couple of months away.

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