Wanted climbing legs

PDDC North Dandulap Handicap
5 July 2014

I will happily admit I am a poor climber, my asthma, hau fever, sinus combination was still giving me trouble, so I was expecting the North Dandulap Handicap which consists of a 5.5km climb, followed by 19km of rolling hills to Dwellingup, turning round, riding 19km back for a fast 5.5km descent to be long solo hard training ride, like it had been the past two of years. It was not helped by the handicapper deciding I had significantly improved since the Dwellingup handicap last month. The two riders I finished with, started two and five minutes behind me. Today I was starting with the five minute rider and the two minute rider was two minutes ahead of me today.

The pace was hard straight off, I stayed away from the front and was working hard just to hang on the wheel in front. About 4km in, we had put more than a minute into the group in front and I was really struggling. I rolled out of the line of riders, to find that we had already dropped three riders from our small group. Next minute I sitting in front of another rider, as four riders rode away, with the one rider in between us.

I was not going to catch my original group, but I believed I could catch the group that started two minutes ahead, as they were probably only 30 seconds at one stage. I pushed too hard and paid for it, by the top of the hill, that group I was chasing were disappearing out of sight, the rider on my wheel had jumped across to the rider in front and two riders from my group that rode the climb at their own pace passed me.

I settled in for a lonely ride, I did manage to catch and pass a few stragglers from the groups ahead. It took twenty kilometres before a solo rider from the group three minutes behind me caught and passed me. By the turn around point, I had caught a couple of riders from my group who had popped. I then grabbed the wheel of Lachlan the winner of the Dwellingup Handicap and another rider. I did not have any trouble keeping up with the pair. I was descending faster than either of them, as Lachlan is an under 15 rider on restricted gearing. So I started taking the front on the descents. Which worked well except the end of one descent I got a good lungful of smoke. There was a house in that valley with a wood fire heating. I had to sit up and take my asthma medication, as the two rode away.

As I recovered, I was passed by a pair of riders, then another. When the third pair passed I grabbed a wheel. I was riding with two of the better B grade riders and while I had no trouble holding a wheel, I did not expect it to last long. It did not, a couple of minutes later we were caught by the remains of the scratch group and a few extras. The pace picked up a little and I still had not trouble holding a wheel. On the descents I had to keep feathering the brakes to stay at the back of the group of 10 or so. The first real climb I was with the group for a couple of hundred metres, then cramps struck in my right leg.

I struggled up the climb, literally on one leg as the bunch disappeared. On both previous races on this course I got cramps in my left leg in the last few hundred metres, I was dreading a repeat as I did not expect to get a foot out of the pedals. I keep going over the top, down the other side and on the final climb, my right leg was recovering slowly.

On the descent I was riding well, descending at speed into a headwind, until just over a kilometre to go, the road flatten out, the headwind was stronger and cramps struck my left leg. I was passed by a bunch of B grade riders as I made my way to the finish. Where I managed to dismount without crashing.

While I beat my previous best time for the course by a minute, I felt I should of done better, the cramps at the end of the race did not help. My race was decided by the group that I started with and trying to hold the wheels on the climb of the two riders who won by over five minutes. I suppose I need to do more climbing, to know how hard I can ride uphill.

My race on Strava

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