Racing again

PDCC D grade criterium
9 February 2014

Eight weeks between race reports, as I have not raced for 8 weeks. I broke my collar bone in a training accident on my TT bike. I was riding at race pace, flat rear tire and my rear wheel went from underneath me while I was trying to avoid hitting a chain link fence. Hit the PSP hard, breaking my right collar bone and bruising or cracking a rib or two.

I had spent the last 4 weeks on my trainer riding at short threshold sessions, as I found anything longer frustrating and could not manage any more intensive due to my ribs and shoulder. I had done a couple of short rides, culminating in a 40km group ride the day before the race. I was not really race fit, however, I was back racing in D grade.

If it was any other course except Parklands, I would of waited another week. I just like racing at Parklands a 4km circuit with a sharp 400m climb, a single set of technical corners and a rough road surface. It is criterium racing on a short road race course.

I went in with a simple plan, see how my shoulder and ribs held out, attack up the climb on the 4th of 6 laps and solo to victory.

The first lap, I sat back as ticket collector and watched the race. Compared to last year the pace was down a little, until we hit the first climb and the intensity picked up. I made sure everybody knew how strong I was by being the first rider to crest the climb. I did not drive hard down the descent, just enough to fully test my shoulder.

I then rolled down the pack and noticed a couple of riders missing and a couple of others gasping for breath. I spent the next half lap on the back, until the two riders I had marked as breakaway risks, moved to the front, so I moved. It was a false alarm. One rolled back and the two of us slowed the race, as nobody wanted to put their nose on the front.

Onto the climb I drove up it hard and pushed down the other side. I was not trying to break away, I was trying to make it hard. I did not see how much damage I caused as nobody was willing to go past me. So I set a false tempo and let two riders, slip off the front. It took the bunch a while to react, they did as we approached the climb, so another fast tempo climb. Then everybody was together, well about half of the riders that started the race.

I was feeling my lack of race fitness, so I postponed my attack until the fifth lap.I sat back and watched the race. It was not the experienced riders taking turns on the front, they where obvious in their absence. Most of the work was being done by Mike. Who has really improved his fitness since I last raced him.

On the fifth lap halfway up the climb, I swung out and launched my attack, I could hear some noises from the bunch, but after years of seeing live bands my hearing is shot. So I assumed it was riders alerting others to my attack, it was not I was just short of the crest I heard the cry “riders” and realised we had be caught by B grade.

I kept going hard over the crest, not knowing how big a group had caught us and what damage I had caused to our grade. Eddie, one of my marked riders came past and said lets go. A quick glance back and I saw two lines of riders strung out behind us, D grade to the left and B grade to the right, and B grade did not seem that big. Then I found myself on the front.

If I put in a big effort like I planned, I probably could of stayed away from both groups, until we went through the 3 corners at the bottom of the hill. Keeping B grade in between us and the rest of D grade and getting a break. Instead I kept the same pace as before, 4 B graders went flying past, I assumed intent on using us to get a gap on the rest of their grade, so I eased back even more and kept to the left through the corners, not interfering with B grade and as a result letting D regroup.

I was not really worried, I knew I should be able to out sprint most of the grade. I spent the next lap on the back, watching as the bunch jumped at shadows, expecting me to attack up the hill. I didn’t, I actually conserved energy up the climb and went over 10m behind the bunch, but quickly caught them downhill. Picked my wheel and waited for the sprint. Eddie went early and hard, the three experienced riders who almost no work, hot on his heels and me right behind. The problem was my legs did not have a sprint in them, I hit 47kph in the sprint. Which last year I would of been happy with, not now and could not even overtake the rider infront. So I eased back and got pipped for 5th place on the line.

Overall disappointed that I didn’t have a sprint in my legs. That is what happens when you spend 6 weeks off the bike without training. Happy that Eddie won, and determined that those riders who got a free ride for a place will have to work harder next race.

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