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

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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