Quite possibly the last race I’d get to this year, it was a must. More so after missing two races a few weeks ago due to not having recovered from a hospital visit.
The course was to follow a number of laptops around the Mondello circuit which meant closed roads for the race. But since Mondello is a race course, it is pretty flat. So flat that SportTracks thinks I lost and gained 0m over the course, however I think it just can’t handle the drift in the elevation from the Garmin. Either way, a flat fast course would probably not suit me and I knew it. The goal became to sit in the group, stay with the front group if and when it broke, to do as little as possible on the front, and then not go at the end either at all or until at least 2-3 other people had started their sprint. May sound like a strange goal but they are things I need to learn to get better at racing.
Due to a crash on the N7, I like many others arrived a bit later than I would have wanted. After the sign on and a quick change, I managed a whole 10 minute warmup. But since the evening was warm it would be enough. Or at least it would have to be. Within 5 minutes from stopping, the usual talk about the race was done and we were off.
While signing on I asked how many laps it would be. The answer was that racing would go for about 50 minutes and then they’d call 3 laps remaining. I should have taken this as a warning sign. Thinking back, I remember looking at the GPS after 10 minutes and being bored. Such a flat course and with a huge number of riders behind us, well there wasn’t going to be a break away.
By 20 minutes I was doing what I could to convince myself not to abandon. To take the race as a training spin and suck it up. The problem however was that it wasn’t overly stressful. Power was about 230-240watts with most of that being the little sprints out of corners when people ahead braked.
And a few people did brake in corners, but not in the way to stop them going into people ahead. At least one person is sticking in my head as everytime I saw him he was accelerating by to a corner and then braking hard. No racing line, no speed through the corner. The first few laps this meant very hard accelerating out of the corner to jump by and grab the wheel ahead. By mid way through the race, I had learnt what he was doing (as had others it seemed), and he started to get left on his line each time as we all took a wider line around and past.
The turn out for the event was high too. 85 I think was the number. Which made for large groups in the corners as people didn’t want to be left behind. Made worse by the fact that the pace was so leisurely. With only short straights and long corners, no pace line really formed. The main straight was usually the slowest part of the course as people slowed right down to try get others to go through.
On the second to last lap I think we were caught. But it was on the last lap going onto the back straight that the pace started picking up. If only we had had this pace from the off, I’d have enjoyed it more.
In the end, I didn’t finish. I punctured during the 4th last corner. Luckily I held it up and moved to the side and everyone got past. If it had been the next corner, well things could have been different. It was taken faster and usually with more than one or two riders across. But it meant limping home at a slow pace and ironically down the pit lane.
Everyone I spoke to after enjoyed it. Things like the big rocks on the corners were all but forgotten at this stage. The closed roads are a plus too. But for me the course was too short and boring. Probably a side affect of all the long 100km+ training rides earlier in the year. Can’t say I’d be jumping to do it again.
Avg Speed: 40.6km/h
Avg Power: 243watts
Normalised Power: 267watts