I had only managed to get a couple of training sessions in last week after 2 weeks off the bike; last week I decided not to race due to a lack of training and so didn’t want to put it off another week! Goal for tonight was to figure out what B grade racing was like as it was my first time, stay upright and last at least 10 minutes of the 35min + 3laps race.
I knew the pace was going to be quicker than usual, a fast race in C grade could be a 39km/h average and I knew that B grade was 40+. That doesn’t sound like a big difference but with the constant climbing and descending each lap 40km/h was very quick around the teardrop. I was also looking forward to not having to sit up and let the faster bunch go through, B grade races at the same time as D so now we would be the ones overtaking.
For the first 3 laps of the race I sat near the front, I immediately noticed how different the bunch behaved, gaps between riders were smaller and the bunch was more fluid, you had to be much more alert about riders on either side as it wasn’t as static as the lower grades. I found myself having to concentrate much more just to keep out of trouble. Although riders would move around more they were much more predictable when they did, deliberate but steady, so that was good.
Tonight was the last race of the year at the teardrop, my goal was to place 4th or higher, with 2 placings already just one more meant a promotion so that was the goal. Yesterday I had set a personal best up a hill I climb every single week and I’d climbed Mount Donna Buang and Mount Kosciuszko the weeks earlier so despite a patchy training schedule I was confident that I was in good form, if I could pull off a smart race then I would be OK.
After last month's race at the teardrop which was a tactical disaster, tonight I wanted to focus on sticking near the front, doing a bit of extra work was OK but I wanted to be involved in the race as much as I could be. The weather was cool so drinking lots of water throughout the day and not bringing a water bottle on the bike was the plan again as it was working well.
The start of the race was good, after we rolled out I was near the back and worked my way through the field over the next few laps, I found that the easiest place for me to move forwards was when the climb flattened out near the top of the hill, lots of riders would slow here and so it meant I could move forwards. In the first few laps the bunch was strung out as a rider went off the front, at this point the group started to break in half and I managed to grab the rear of the first bunch, I was maybe 15th wheel or so. The pace was quick for the next couple of laps and riders were all pushing to ensure that didn’t drop from the first group, a this point I decided I was too far back and pushed hard up the hill. I continued strong down the back half of the circuit and I found myself near the front, with no spare wheel I hopped into the front, I didn’t mind doing a little bit of work, I knew it wouldn’t be for long and I was in the action. Half a lap later some riders came around and I hovered near 10th wheel for a while.
A week away from the bike with no training meant that tonight's race would just be for a bit of training and some fun. Earlier in the week I had knocked my knee rock climbing; I also took some skin off my elbow playing futsal. I was still sore from the bruising and the elbow scrape was a bit annoying.
Just riding to the start of the race was seemingly tiring. I wasn’t sure how I’d last more than a handful of laps. Thankfully the weather was cool so I was confident I wasn't going to overheat like some of my recent races. During the scouting lap I noticed that there was a very strong wind coming from the south blowing north. The back stretch of the course has very little cover and is exposed to the wind, during the race It would be important to stay away from the outside, otherwise I'd be suffering in the wind. I had to be smart this race and conserve as much energy as possible for the end if I was still holding on.
The pace was quick from the start. I was holding around 5th wheel for the first 5 minutes or so. Around that time some riders kept on dangling out the front but a proper break away never really formed. After 10 minutes or so I dropped back a bit because the riders in front were leaving large gaps and I was wasting energy having to come around them, this happened a few times.
After holding onto the bunch for 10 minutes two weeks ago, my goal this race was to last a bit longer. Lately I’ve been struggling to get good quality sleep and it’s been hard to wake up early to train, so both my sleep and training have been poor. The race was 30 minutes + 3 laps and I hoped to hold onto the bunch for 20 of them. The weather was cool and fairly windy, on the ride over it started to rain a little bit and I wasn’t keen on racing in the rain. I was riding my new wheelset for only the 3rd time and I hadn’t had too much of an opportunity to figure out handling quirks, so I planned on being cautious.
Staring the race the rain had died down, the bunch was fairly small, maybe 15-20 riders in total. The start of the race was very quiet, the pace felt very slow to me and I thought everyone was just being very lazy, in retrospect our lap times were fairly reasonable, I think I may have just underestimated my current fitness level. A couple of times in the first 10 minutes a rider went off the front but they didn’t last too long. As the bunch was fairly compact hanging out at the back wasn’t too bad. The yo-yoing around the corner was very minimal and I was able to leave more space around the hairpin and corner faster to ease my effort up the climb, also down the back straight I could also rest a bit.
After 10 minutes we had a rider go off the front and another soon after to chase, I made an effort to grab onto the chasing rider, but after half a lap into the wind I was done, I wasn’t going to last much longer like that, the bunch caught me quickly and I sat in to rest. My timing was quite poor as the sprint lap was immediately after which made it very difficult as I still needed some time to recover.
After the christmas holidays and being out for a week with a cold it was good to be back racing again. I was racing with a friend Jarel, it was his first C grade race, he had just won his first crit in D grade and was immediately promoted.
Having only ridden a couple of times in the last month and without any real hard training sessions I knew that I would be slow, the goal for the night was to stay with the bunch as long as possible and then try avoid getting lapped when dropping out the back. It was a little warm and humid, not too crazy but I never do well in warmer temperatures.
After coming out of neutral at the beginning of the race it was immediately obvious I was following a bad wheel. The rider in front was slowing down more than the others coming into the hairpin which meant that I had to push hard up the hill the first couple of laps and I was struggling very early on. I tried to grab a more stable wheel but didn't have much luck, I quickly found myself at the back of the bunch around lap 4 or 5.
I didn't have much of a warm up tonight as I was in a bit of a rush to arrive, the weather was quite warm, around 30 degrees and quite humid. The first warm race of the season. The announcer said that we would have 30 minutes + 3 laps which was longer than the last couple of races I had done; being later in the year there was enough sunlight now to not cut the race short.
The last crit here I felt strong but my tactics during the race let me down. I wanted to focus on my positioning in the bunch and shielding myself from the wind. When the race started I found a rider in front that was smooth and followed his wheel for a couple of laps, I remember him wearing a "Wiggins" jersey. The stable wheel meant that I could take in what was happening during the race rather than focusing all my concentration on ensuring riders nearby don't crash into me. Although the wheel was good we were towards the rear of the bunch and a few laps in were starting to yo-yo around the hairpin corner. Nick, who is a friend of a friend came past, I knew it was a good wheel so I grabbed it and held on. Very early into the race my mouth was getting dry and my stomach started to get sore. I had the same things happen last year at the first hot race. I made sure I started drinking water immediately although it was too late.
Around 10 minutes into the race the pain in my stomach was simply too much, I sat up to compose myself and lost touch with the bunch. I drank a few mouthfuls of water at this point and after a very short rest, only 20 seconds or so I felt good again instantly. Just as I started to pick up the pace again the A grade race came around me, I let them come around me and create a gap; then I pushed to catch the bunch in our race; they were less fortunate and had to sit up as the faster riders came through at the hairpin corner costing them a lot of time. The race was over for me now, I didn't think it was fair that I was able to catch the bunch only because they were held up a lot more than I was when the faster riders came through. I held onto the back of the bunch just resting, I felt pretty good but I didn't want to contend the race. At the 18 minute mark I thought i'd go off the front knowing that I wouldn't be able to hold it long anyway, I kicked down the back straight and held good speed through the corner, I lead the race for about a lap before being consumed by the bunch.
The peaks challenge in Tasmania is 235km long and has around 4000m of climbing along the way. My aim for the event was to safely get to the end in 10 hours or less. I had a few friends in the event as well who were all targeting around 10 hours or so. I started the race with one of them, Jude.
At the start of the race they organised the bunch into target finish times, there was an 8 hour and 9 hour group before our 10 hour target time group. We set off with the quicker group while the 11, 12 and 13 hour groups went away afterwards. This turned out to be very good because the first 20km or so was dead flat and we were going a good speed in the bunch. Jude and I ended up being a bit too far back and our group lost touch with the front of the pack. We decided to push on and were able to regroup with the first group.
Once the climbing started around the 20k mark I started slowly pushing forward and I lost touch with Jude there. After a few kms by myself of pushing forward I found a group which was going at a similar pace to me so I joined in. We stayed together for the next 30kms or so.
The weather was very cool and windy for the race tonight. During my scouting laps I wasn't getting blown around too much which was good but there was a strong headwind in parts of the lap so sheltering would be important during the race.
After the neutral lap and a bit the race started out very slowly. I was hanging off the back off the bunch and not wasting any energy at all, it took a while for the pace to pick up. When it picked up I put a little effort into moving up. I found it very difficult to hold the same wheel, riders were constantly coming around me and I found myself at the back of the pack.
Getting shelter on the back stretch proved difficult as the wind was coming from the south, meaning you had to stay in the inside of the track to gain some cover. This was problematic as everyone wanted to be on the inside line and it was very cramped when cornering. I frequently found myself on the outside getting hit in the face with the oncoming wind.
First race of the summer season after the winter break. I had been training hard for the last month or so but had to take the last two weeks off due to some knee issues. This was also my first race in C grade. The weather was very cool as well so I thought I could pay less attention to drinking during the race.
Due to having 2 weeks off my goal was just to hang onto the until the end and hope for a bunch finish, avoid following any breaks and hang on as long as possible. I would have been happy being dropped after 10 laps so long as I pushed hard.
Start of the race was a bit shaky as I got into things, took a couple of laps before I was really paying good attention to my lines. Also the speed into the hairpin corner each lap seemed slow compared to what I was used to, could just be my bad memory as I don't think my cornering has really improved a huge amount.
My first ever time trial and going in I didn't really have any goals, I didn't train for 7 days before the event so I wasn't expecting a great result, just wanted to have a bit of fun.
I was in the non aero category, as I didn't bring a TT bike or clip on bars, just my road bike with low profile climbing wheels.
The course was 24km long up and back. I guessed that I could hold 35-40km/h for about 40 minutes if it wasn't too windy, the course was relatively flat with only a 50m gain going one way and back down the other.
I started the final stage sitting in 8th place just over a minute down on the GC leader. My goal was to try and gain some time on the riders in front and hopefully finish 6th, which was about 30 seconds infront.
The course was a long 85km loop and featured a KOM early on within the first 20 kilometres or so. The start of the race was very slow paced, no one wanted to do any work with such a long distance remaining.
Just before the KOM the pace picked up and I found myself on the front of the pack going up the hill. I soon realised I had a few metres back to the bunch and I wasn't putting in a huge amount of effort. I picked up the pace a little and started to pull away even further, although I didn't want to burn myself up the climb so wasn't going 100%. With a hundred metres to go two riders jumped and pushed hard to take the 1st and 2nd places for the KOM and I picked up 3rd spot with some energy in reserve.
I was feeling a little sore after the time trial earlier in the day and the race the day before, so my goal was to stay with the bunch as long as I could and not attempt to waste my energy on any KOMs.
The course was two laps of a ~ 30kms course (the final lap had 5km cut off) then a final 10km ride to the town of Carlsruhe. The KOM climb was about 1/3 the way into the lap.
I stuck to my plan for the first lap, taking the KOM climb steady to save as much energy as I could. The plan went well, I didn't feel drained at all after having ridden a 30km loop.
The second stage time trial was very short at 5.5kms. My aim if the weather would play along was to hold an average just above 40km/h. I can do that for 8 minutes with some effort.
You weren't allowed any aero equipment but I brought my mass start race legal aero suit to shave off some extra tenths/seconds. I figure if the other racers have 80mm deep sectioned wheels then I need a way to nullify their advantage.
The first 1-2 kms of the time trial went very well, slight tailwind meant that I was holding a low 40s average like I planned.
This was the first stage of 4 in the three day tour. Thee laps of a 21km circuit that was half flat and half rolling hills. The course features a 2.3km climb at 5% near the end followed by the finish line around a kilometre later.
The first lap was very quiet, the pace was slow and not much happened, I decided not to contest the uphill climb to gain bonus KOM seconds and just stayed with the bunch instead.
The pace picked up a bit on the second lap but I was still feeling good, I decided this time I would try have a go at grabbing some bonus seconds on the KOM. I was chatting to another rider who indicated that the KOM was coming up soon, which I thought meant in a few hundred metres. So I pushed near the front and started stringing out the bunch before getting to the base of the climb. What I didn't realise is that the KOM was several kilometres away and there was no way I would be able to keep my pace until then. Eventually I crashed as the KOM climb started, dropping off the rear of the pack with one other rider. We worked together and managed to hop back onto the bunch.
Demoted to E Grade this week after being dropped 5 of 7 laps into the last race, was racing with 13 others today. My goal this race was to be patient and be fresh and the end for a bunch sprint.
We started under control for the first 20kms or so, not much happened, had a friendly chat with some other riders. My friend Matt who was racing with me hit a pothole and pinch flatted, that was the last I saw of him for the race.
The ~ 65km course was fairly flat, some rolling hills with the exception of a giant climb around the 25km mark. 1km @ 13% average, peaking at 20%. When we hit the climb 5 or so riders left the bunch and I was unable to follow them up.
I was still recovering from a cold so wasn't sure if I would perform the best, felt OK in the morning though. The main feature of the race was a ~ 1.6km climb at 4% just before the finish line, with only 100m of flat before hitting the line. In D grade we would be doing 7 laps of the 8.5km course.
I felt good and the race was fairly easy up until the end of the second lap, up the climb to the finish I put in a hard effort just to test the waters, it ended up taking a little bit out of me. I stayed with the bunch until the climb on the 3th lap, where the wheel I was following dropped away from the main bunch, there was about 5 of us on our own.
Us five worked really hard and managed to catch up to the main bunch on the climb on lap 4. Where we were again unable to keep up the quick pace climbing with nothing left in the tank after pushing hard all lap.
I was riding with Jarel for the day, he was on his single speed and my plan was to take it easy and finish the ride safely. The day got off to a strange start where our starting group left earlier than the advised 8:12am start time, meaning we started at the very back of the 145km riders together with 6-7 other riders.
After setting off we hit a good rhythm, we were constantly passing groups of riders, but sadly with such a late start, none of the riders we were passing were strong enough to work with us to make it easier. We would push hard to catch a group, rest for a minute and then push on.
A third way through the ride I got a flat on my rear and about 20kms later the new tube was also flat, I suspect it pinched due to my improper installation, the tyre would just not sit right the first time, it was very odd.
Tonight was very warm for racing, I drank a lot of water even before the start of the race. I felt comfortable drinking from my bottle during the race while in the pack, which really helped in the heat; previously I was always too nervous and was concerned I would plow into another rider. Last week I didn't last more than 10 laps and I think lack of hydration was a big part so I was sure to drink plenty.
I stayed in the bunch mid pack during the race getting as much shelter as I could. The shelter was good and there wasn't too much yoyo-ing. I felt much more confident cornering down the back of the course as well as into the hairpin, this made it easier for me to sit on a wheel and conserve energy.
I feel like I could have done a much better job at conserving energy though, there were times where I would let go of my wheel and have to work a bit to get back in touch; also I've noticed that I always gain a lot of ground after completing the corner on the back straight; i'm finding I have to use my breaks if I'm unable to go around the rider in front. Maybe it's because i'm a bit heavier than some of the other riders?
Raced with Chris A in a field of 15 riders. We both got into a very early break away a few minutes in with one more rider working together with us, one more bridged the gap later to make 4.
Chris got a flat and had to pull out of the race and our break was caught after 5-10 mins. After sitting in with the bunch for a few minutes; another rider went solo off the front, I joined him for a 2 man break, we had a 3rd and 4th join us eventually. Gap went to around 25 seconds but with a few laps remaining we were pulled into the bunch.
I was sitting second wheel for the last few laps then with half a lap to go I broke away from the pack into the wind down the back of the course. The wind had picked up by this point which meant the pack caught me at the start of the back straight.