Still criterium racing

West Coast Masters CC
C grade
Kewdale
6 April 2014

The West Coast Masters criterium season starts and ends a couple of weeks after the PDCC criterium season. So I was heading back to Kewdale to see if with my new found cornering confidence, I could improve from my early season performances and finish in the bunch.

With the 3 and 5 dams ride on that weekend, the numbers where down on the early season races with only 15 instead of 25 starters in C.

In warmup, I was pretty happy with three of the four corners. I just could not get the turn onto Valentine Street right. I had troubles with it in previous races where I was too wide on the exit. Today I was turning in to early and trying to keep a narrow line, which meant I kept braking on the approach when I did not need to.

Race started and I settle in as ticket collector. First couple of laps was interesting, the wheel I was following took a very different line to my preferred line. He would start in tight, turn late, overshooting the apex, exit wide and chase back on. Following that line I was losing ground, chasing hard every corner and paying for it. I realised I just needed to drop back a half a bike length, stay on his outside, turn in earlier and drift out to be on his back wheel as he chased hard. Once I got the cornering right, I found the I was handling the pace well. I started moving up, a couple of laps later an opportunity opened up and I went to the front.

I was not attacking, I was just riding aggressively, I did managed to get the turn onto Valentine Street completely wrong, swore heavily. Stayed on the front for another lap, got through the corners a lot better, then rolled off and literally had to stop to get off the front. Ended up dropping right back to ticket collector as I felt more comfortable there. I would move up a few places, check what going on, then drop back.

Some 20 minutes in, a rider tried to break and spent a couple of laps just dangling of the front. Then another rider who I recognised as one of the smarter riders joined him. Half a lap later, I had bridged to them and attempted to drive the break. That lasted for less than a lap. The bunch reacted strongly to the three off the front and shut us down.

I was expecting a counter attack, as there was a few riders suffering. It came half a lap later, I ended up having to make up ground along Valentine Street out of the corner and I did. A lap later another surge and I worked hard just to hang on the back of the bunch.

I was sitting at the back recovering, thinking what I was racing for. Was it to finish in the front half? Which was the best I could hope for, as I had not been racing with the group for months and would not be confident sprinting with them. Or was it to have fun? I decided it was for fun, and as we approached the line for two laps to go I attacked.

I did not expect it to last and it did not, I was caught before the final pair of corners on the same lap. I was expecting a counter attack and to be out the back. Instead the bunch keep a steady pace, I worked hard to stay with the bunch. It was only close to the end of the back straight the pace really picked up and I was struggling, still managed to pass a couple of riders on the way to the line.

Overall I was happy with my performance, particularly chasing back on when I was spent. I know that I can be competitive with WCMCC C grade. I just need to ride a tactical race which is not my strong point. Still another fun criterium next week, before getting serious with the road season.

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