Another week, another Swords CC race. And with all my SRAM failures of late, I was lucky to be able to start. But start I did and I was looking forward to it given that the profile looked hill and all the descriptions talked about the nice hills, and I like hills.
It was a group 2 start again this week, however right from the start the group started stringing out. As it turned out, this was due to the descent and we all bunched up after the first corner. Things generally stayed together too with most people taking turns. A few however only took turns on the descents which did start to get some of the guys shouting to work properly.
And we needed to work as the time gaps were not coming down quick enough. By the second lap, we got a time gap of 2:40. The next time gap being 3 minutes, it was clear that we weren’t doing enough. It was on this lap when I had gone to the front to take my turn, held the pace steady then looked behind to see why no one was coming through, only to see a 30+metre gap back to the bunch. Only one other rider has stuck onto my wheel. But we talked it over and since there was a long straight around the corner, it’d be best to wait for the bunch, so we sat up.
Best laid plans and what not
Well I was bound to make a mistake at some point and this may have been it. I was still near the front when we were getting to the pub to turn left and I didn’t brake. I took the racing line, stayed tucked in, and sprinted out of the corner. Once I hit the straight I kept the hammer down to see how much of a gap I’d pull out, test myself. After 45 or so seconds, I looked back and only the one guy from earlier was there, the bunch were gone. We’d broken away, on the mostly flat, straight section of the course. Honestly, what had I done!
We did up and overs along the road, keeping the pace high. But it became quickly apparent that the other guy was stronger than I. I was suffering. Really suffering. And just to hang onto this wheel. But we held it together and got around the next corner. I don’t remember the time gap but it didn’t seem to be coming down fast enough causing us to slow up. And since there was someone bridging up to us, we let him catch our wheel.
After passing the next corner, the marshall said 2 minutes when we shouted for a time gap. It didn’t seem right as she just looked like she made it up, but then we saw part of group 1 ahead. As you might expect, this egged us on and we kept going to catch them. But before we caught them, we knew that it must have split and this was confirmed when we got them. 2 guys up ahead in a break.
We powered through and around the corner leaving 4 of us ahead of that group. After a few minutes I instructed the guy from the original group 2 break to slow and let the other two take some turns. Guy who bridged up came through for a turn but the 4th guy (who must have jumped from group 1) was gone.
The next part is a bit of a blur. I remember asking where we were meant to go. For all three of us, it was a first time on the circuit and best we could figure was that at the turn we weren’t turning, but going straight towards Garristown. Marshalls confirmed this and a motorbike rider shouted that we were 30 seconds. Down or up, I don’t know. But another group of 4 or so riders caught up around this stage and the pace went up. With the flats and descents on this part, well I was dying. My heart rate was high 180s, pushing over 190 at times – well beyond my threshold. It was bound to happen. It did happen.
On what I think was the last hill, one of the guys jumped. He jumped at a speed that made me look like I was standing still. Trying to hold his wheel was futile. First guy from group 2 that broke away confirmed my original assumption that he was stronger and he held the wheel and went with him. But when the next guy went I had nothing left. I cracked. In a feeling that I haven’t had in a long time, my legs struggled to turn the cranks and felt like jelly. I clicked to an easier gear and tried to recover.
But when the next guy went I had nothing left. I cracked.
Somehow, and I really don’t know how, but I managed to recover somewhat and my speed went back up. Enough to let me catch the wheel ahead and the last 3 of us from this group sort of bunched up. Me straight behind someone and another maybe 5m ahead. But my problem lay in the fact that I had no idea where the line was or how long I could go. Given the mistake I made last week, I decided to wait until the guy ahead started sprinting so I could jump him and beat him to the line. It didn’t happen. Yes I beat him to the line, no he didn’t jump. When I went, I went too late. I missed the rider ahead by a few inches at the line, passing him as we crossed the line. It was close enough that I was asked after if I knew who was ahead, the marshal’s weren’t sure.
In the end I place sixth. And with scratch catching us it was a good result. But I’m not all too happy with it. I should of had 5th, I was able to get it too. But since the race started with my stomach threatening to cramp, finishing is a result to be happy with. Next week I’ll start in group 3 and see if I really can hold the pace. We have long straight slightly downhill, so who is to know.
Avg Speed: 35.4km/h
Avg Power: 266watts
Normalised Power: 312watts