Racing to a plan

Nick winning his 1st race of the year

Showing off the new Peel kit while winning D grade: photo by Peter Moyses

If you are a regular reader of my race reports, you will know I like to have a plan for a race. This week’s plan was to put in an attack (not a go to the front and ride hard, but hard sprint and get a gap attack) two thirds into the race, up the main straight and time trial to the finish solo. I even rode the Wednesday night time trial to try and gain a psychological advantage over my opponents. I was the fastest D grade rider on the night, but not by a convincing margin or anywhere near my best performance.

I quickly discovered I was suffering from a mild cold. A couple of days of recovery and a Saturday morning group ride and I knew I was not in top shape. I was still racing, I enjoy it and the worse thing that could happen is I would get popped off the back of the bunch, exhausted and in need a couple of extra days recovery.

It was a good size bunch and I settled on the front for the first couple of laps, so I could work out wind direction and my preferred cornering lines. Then everybody wanted to move up and pick up the pace, so I dropped back to the tail of the field. I did not waste my time, I was watching the line a couple of more experience riders took through the corners, and listened in on the advice one was giving his daughter, regarding cornering. I also took the advice from a former multiple world track champion, the advice was aimed at his son, but I heeded it and move up to the middle of the bunch.

Which was the place to be after fifteen minutes, as the attacks started. Though they were no real attacks, more going to the front and putting in a hard effort. I even did a couple of turns, to see how I felt, which was good and for a number of tactically reasons, including improving my confidence at cornering at speed, tiring my opponents and not letting them know I had a plan.

My plan was to go at the 22 minute mark on the front straight. However at that time another rider was on the front working hard, so I delayed my attack. The pace eased off, then down the back straight another rider put in an effort, we slowed and then bunched up as we entered the main straight again. I swung outside and produced a sprint effort for 10 seconds, hitting 47kph. Two corners later I looked under my arm, could not see anybody with 50 metres.

I regularly train to hold my pace at VO2max for six minutes, today I held it for 5 minutes or two laps, before easing back to my TT pace. My lungs and legs were hurting, I was thinking I had gone a lap to early, when I was shown the two laps to go board. I could see a couple of riders behind me in the distance. I keep the pace going and two laps later crossed the finish line 10 seconds clear of the bunch.

It appears when I attacked, nobody could or wanted to chase me. I built up a lead of 10 seconds or 100 metres on the first lap and 20 seconds or 200 metres by the second lap. Then only reason the gap got halved was on the final lap as everybody fought for the minor placings.

There was some suggestions that after winning by such a margin, I should get promoted to C grade. I would disagree with that the power data shows it was a relatively easy race for me compared to the last couple of races at the Motorplex. Both my average and normalised power was down, along with the time spent in zones 6 and 7. Which means I won it by reading the race right, attacking at the right time and riding to my strengths on the day.

What will probably see me fronting up in C grade next week (or the week after) I was riding with a cold, my physical performance was down, compared to the previous weeks and even more compared to last year, prior to taking 6 weeks off the bike due to a broken collarbone. So I am looking forward to the challenge of a new grade, with my new found cornering confidence and better tactics.

My race on Strava

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4 Responses to “Racing to a plan”

  1. PHIL DEVENISH Says:

    Well done Nick a good win,tactical perfection, that’s how I used to win my races when I had a good engine.When you went I was thinking if they do not react immediately you will stay away,and that was confirmed.They are always screaming for me to go into c grade,but I don’t win on physical prowess,it is years of tactical knowledge and conserving strength for small strategic efforts,which is what you did. Phil.

  2. Nick Says:

    Thanks Phil, I thought I had a good chance, the only time I looked back on the 1st lap, 50m down the back straight and nobody in sight. It was all about timing and I got it right and gambled nobody was ready and willing to chase.

  3. Anonymous Says:

    C grade for you now Cowie. Your one of the best D graders in the club time to step up and show c grade your class!

  4. Nick Says:

    Anonymous you forget I already rode C grade 1st three races of this criterium season for DNF flat 1st race and off the back the next two. I might have the engine of a C grade racer, but my bike handling skills let me down as does my tactics some weeks.

    Since coming back from broken collar bone, my 1st three races I never finished higher than 5th or lower than 8th.

    This week I was not the strongest rider on the day by far. Feeling crap, made me race smarter, which is why I won, I made the right decisions.

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