This race was all the way up north. 1:45 in the car to get to it, but it was either this or one in Drogheda in a combined A1/A2/A3/A4 race on a flatish circuit. I choose the hilly one, and frankly I’m glad I did.
It was a another beautiful day out with the sun shining and a very light breeze. After signing on I saw in the car and ate my rolls before getting ready. Right then I released I’d forgotten my shorts. Of all the things to forget. Luckily a bike shop was within walking distance. Quick trip around and I was set with enough time for a quick 20 minute warmup.
We began with a 5km run out from the scout hall to the tracks start/finish which was on an uphill. The A1/A2 had their start moved to a line near the town which was basically a long flat road just after a bit of a descent. I was very thankful the A4 race didn’t finish there.
When getting to the start/finish line, I immediately saw a problem. Just before the hill was a descent. A mild one yes, but before the hill I knew it’d give all the wannabe sprinters enough to pull way ahead of me. Something to watch out for.
The race was going to be 5 laps of the circuit giving a total of 70+km. Longer than any of the other A4 races that I had finished. I believe the Des Hanlon would have been longer but the puncture stopped me in my tracks for that one.
The course was a lot of up and down with only one shortish section on the flat but into the wind. It was enough to start burning people off on the first lap but the group stayed larger than I expected with the main hill. Presumably since there was a bit of a flat and descent after it, they were able to regroup while the main group did its usual lets not work. Admittedly, I’m also quite guilty of not working. Last year, I did do a bit on the front but in the wrong places, the Mondello Race was one I tried to sit in and conserve. This year it has gone the other way with me staying near the back most of the time, again something I will have to work on.
A breakway forms
On the last lap on the main hill, a few riders were up ahead pulling away. In theory I had moved up enough on the hill that I could have chased on but very quickly riders were falling off it. I honestly believed it would get roped back in very quickly. Strangely it dropped to one rider and the group slowed up. Someone from Bray Wheelers was off out on his own, and without another Bray Wheelers blocking the front, the A4 group did was it does best! Nothing. Normally they chase down everything but he was let go, presumably the locals thought we’d get him on the straight.
Way before the straight, a time gap of over 30 seconds was called and it was very obvious that he was doing much better than expected. Yet no one worked. There was an uphill section after a longish descent during which I moved up the front in an effort to pull things along, but no one came. Few shouted to work but nothing. I switched my bidons, took a drink and drifted back into the main group. I know I wouldn’t be able to hold on out on my own so going would have been a mistake.
By the back straight, a gap of 1:05 was called and we knew he had it. One of the locals tried a break further down the road but was just left hang. I really was in two minds about trying anything on the finish, especially since I was near the back again with the descent and couldn’t move up much. Still I came out wide for the left turn and did my best to move up, and I did somewhat, but anything I gained was lost on the descent section. At that point I decided to just sit in and finish out the race. What a mistake.
As the road started going up, people started moving backwards at a crazy rate. At the last second I jumped up and decide to go for it making up a number of places, but I started way too late and only managed 8th. Pretty sure I crossed the line with a HR of 150 showing just how much extra I could and should have done. My garmin does should 170-180 for the finish but I wasn’t out of breath so what does it know!
But each mistake is a learning experience and I know for next time.
Avg Speed: 34.8km/h
Avg Power: 224watts
Normalised Power: 286watts