Given that the previous day, the Saturday had lovely warm weather, waking up to drizzly rain and greasy roads really was an unpleasant feeling. Immediately my mind turned to the turn at the top of the climb – the one I know I need to keep speed up through just to hang on in the group. Maybe this would slow things down, or maybe I’d cook it. Who knows.
The PreRace Fun
Surprisingly this year, there was little information about the race available before the day. The usual stuff started to appear on boards and the circuit was known since it was the same on we do in the club league. There was the start time of 12pm with sign-0n from 11:30am so knowing this, I arrived around 11:30am – enough time for a quick warm up but short enough not to get cold before the race.
That all changed at 11:55am when it surfaced that the start was at 1pm. Oh well. Luckly another rider was around and we went off on a easy pace for a warm-up lap. A good idea since I could properly determine the wind direction as something from the North would definitely suit me and help stop any breakaway just before the turn. Remembering my mistake from last year, I was determined not to have a repeat.
On the main road, we continued along chatting away at a nice 32km/h, side by side, so no drafting. Possibly a little faster than I’d hoped but bring on the race.
We all grouped together near the gate and got ready. For us, A4, it was to be 3 and half laps with the finish on the fourth time up. So off went the A1/A2. Few minutes later, off went the A3. Numbers were down, probably due to a combination of the weather and the bank holiday weekend which left 25 riders starting the A4.
Initially things were un-organised. But then how is that any different than a normal A4 race? Only when a pace car rolls out does the start stay orderly. It took a few guys to ramp to the front to get us moving at something beyond what would be considered a slow commute speed. But even then, it never really got organised and pacey. One of the downsides of A4 racing – some people just like sitting in the outside line and not moving up.
Lap 1 stayed together and we continued up the hill at a decent enough speed. Nothing too hard and I stayed in behind two others to slow myself down. Apparently some people did drop off this time up the hill but I couldn’t tell from where I was.
This is where some racing began. One guy decided to jump from the front himself and try move things along. Our main group was being led by one other rider at this point who seemed content on letting him head off into the distance. After a few minutes and walking the time gap grow, I moved up and asked what the plan was – let him go, or wait and see. While discussing what to do and when to go, two or three other lads jumped and the chase was on. Immediately the speed was up and people started working together.
Unfortunately this really didn’t last for long and when on the main road, it dropped to about 3 or 4 of us working to pull in the gap. Knowing my weakness on the flats, I was careful when to pull and when to sit in, and the others seemed happy enough to have slow up and overs we some very fast pulls through to rope in distance.
With this we brought him back about half way along the road and things slowed again. Not what was hoped but what can you do.
Around the corner and again the same guy goes off again. On the first little bump, I sped up and chased to catch on. Now I don’t know if it was just I was feeling good, or plain insanity, but once I reached him, I pulled through and kept the pace up. And we started pulling out a gap. The other guy did say to work together and keep going right at the exact moments I was starting to slow down which probably helped, but we pushed hard up the hill. Even near the top, he shouted to keep pushing – that he’d work on the flats to get the break. Really that did and away I went. By the time I crossed the top, I had 3-5 seconds on him, and he another 5 on the riders behind if not more. But I knew what had to happen and I slowed to let him come back.
Slow through the corner as it was so slippy but start back on the gas. By this point there was a few of us and worked together keeping the pace very high to try pull some gap. It didn’t stick and it looked like the bunch came back together by the village again. I later found out that the effort up the hill tore things apart and less than half the group was left by this point. Such is racing.
Lap 3 was uneventful beyond the fact that we went slow. Ridiculously slow at times. On the main road we dropped to 27km/h at one point (remember that I did 32km/h on an easy warmup lap here) meaning it remained a simple lap. Even the hill climb wasn’t all that stressful.
Lap 4 – The final
Things did move along fairly ok on this lap strangely enough, more so that you usually expect some people to sit in. Perhaps because I sat as rider 3 for quite a while until I started dropping wheels during the fast accelerations on the main road. I really couldn’t pull through fast enough when the wheels jumped.
Around the corner from the main road and some people started jumping as usual. Nothing fast and no one followed through with it much. Once again through the last bump I went to jump a wheel, and once again I pulled all the way. Not withstanding that I had planned to sit in until the cross roads, it just happened. I put the head down and just rode. A quick glance back at one point put one rider on my wheel and the bunch a fair bit back.
At the cross roads my left hamstring decided it wasn’t having this and started giving out to me. Enough that it caused a few cries of pain. It was then that I knew any hope of winning was lost as I wouldn’t be able to jump near the top when the guys came through.
With a full km to go, I’d be lucky to stay consistent and hold the gap to the top. Even within 200km my pace was already dropping and becoming shabby. But push on you must and so I did.
The 200m marker at the top came and shortly after I decided it was now or never. Up I stood to try up the pace and break what was left. A feeble attempt as my leg really didn’t want to. The rider behind took that as a sign and jumped by me. Then another one. I pushed a little but really was disappointed with myself and rolled across the line for 3rd stopping the GPS as I went.
A look back
Overall, third place wasn’t too bad. I really should have done better and I paid for the effort on lap 2, but who knows, the race could have been different if I didn’t. The stats from this year to last year do say a lot however. Only 3 minutes slower and power was similar. Memory is a great thing.
Avg Speed: 36km/h
Avg Power: 242watts
Normalised Power: 291watts