Totally out of character

PDCC C grade
Serpentine
6 June 2015

Anybody who has read my race reports or has raced with me, knows I only ride in two positions in the bunch on the front or at the back, well today was different. With 24 riders, it was the largest PDDC grade I have raced. I knew about half the riders, the ones to get in a breakaway with, the wheel to follow in a sprint, the riders not to near in the sprint. The other half were unknowns, including a number racing for the first time (the club is doing a great deal on three event licences and entry fees to get them hooked).

I rolled out on the front on the bunch, up Gull Road, everybody wanted to move up, I ended up mid pack as we turned on to Rapids Road, into a headwind. The bunch really stretched out, I had to kick hard to get to the half dozen riders on the front, and that is were I stayed for most of the race. The rest of the lap was fairly sedate. The next lap the pace picked up on Gull Road, kicked hard onto Rapids Road, slowed briefly for me to use my asthma inhaler as there was a small fire just off the course. Before the pace really kicked in with the tailwind down Karnup Road.

Next lap, I hit the front going up Gull Road, the intention was to get to the corner first and drive harder and longer out of it, to see if I could fracture the bunch. Instead I ended up off the front, that lasted for 30 seconds, I heard plastic hit the ground behind me. So I slowed, did a quick check it was not my garmin and bike appeared to be OK. I was then caught by the bunch, who let me know it was my asthma inhaler that went bouncing down the road.

Next few laps where similar, I was close to the front just behind the four riders doing most of the work. I did the odd turn, though my main contribution was to go to the front before we turned onto Gull and Rapids Road and driving hard out of the corners. Did not know if I was causing any damage, there was always riders behind me. Last time up Gull Road, drove hard, two riders came over the top and got a small break. I could not close the gap but a couple of others did and we were a big group again.

Settled a little further back than before as riders were putting in efforts and the odd risk to move up. Last corner we caught a lone D grader, everybody swung wide except one rider who I did not want to be anywhere near in the sprint, decided to dive underneath and force themselves into the tiny gap between the D grader and the row of C graders. Did not do him any good, as he was trapped inside me down Karnup Road, he end up dropping back before appearing on my outside. I was confident in holding position in this pack and I made sure he stayed in the wind.

I was sitting in about 10th place with 2km to go, expecting riders to start sprinting early and planning on being patient. Did not quite expect it with 1500 metres to go. Suddenly all hell broke loose, riders up out of the saddle and sprinting, I stayed calm, put in a measured effort and remained in contact. Then it slowed suddenly, in hindsight this would of been a great opportunity to move up. Instead stayed back and waited, the sprinting started with over 400 metres to go. The riders in front started fading, I ended up crossing to the other side of the road to get past one rider, expecting the traffic to be stopped that close to the line. It was not, but I had plenty of time to get back on the correct side of the road. Kept chasing and finished fifth.

Overall I was happy with my performance, went to the race after a week of not riding and with lungs that felt full of gunk. My heart rate was a surprise, regularly hitting 175, which is my usual maximum, apparently not, I had no trouble holding that and in the final sprint it maxed out at a new PB of 187. What really pleased me was riding the whole race in the front half of the bunch, holding my position.

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