Saturday, 20 June 2015

My first road race - MWCC West Head Road Race C-Grade

Despite being a member of Lane CoVelo I joined Sydney Cycling Club a few weeks ago as wanted to try out this bike racing lark and you need special race insurance only available through a ltd no of clubs. Races I had been hoping to get involved in were Heffron (a crit circuit in Sydney) and the West Head Road Race. A quick look at the calendar meant I couldn't make any 2nd Sundays of the month, the date of the west head road race, until October. But then suddenly this month it was on the third Sunday. A bit soon but what the hell. Could enter D-grade (neutral) hill climb and one lap as an intro. Hills are not my friend and the course is lumpy but I wanted to do the race anyway as it felt like more of a race than say a crit. Problem being they weren't running the D-grade so do I enter the C-grade (racing from the start and 2 laps)?

In the end the online entry opened and I entered, only $20 and would be an experience and great training either way.

Made a few mistakes for my first race:
- 1: rode 30km to the start (which felt like a bigger mistake on the 30km trip home after the race).
- 2: going too hard and not sitting at the back.
- 3: not picking a race that suited my relative strengths. I've not hilly - strava had it at 1000m ascent

I got to the bottom of Akuna in good time and pinned my race number on to my Lane CoVelo Jersey. I was a bit confused wearing my Sydney Cycling Club bib shorts and my TriLondon gilet under my jersey - it was nippy this morning. I could see several people shivering/shaking before we set off.

At 7:43 C-grade all rolled out together and I was sitting comfortably in the pack. Immediately it's a 3.5km climb. A few started dropping and I had to weave to stay with the pack but was fine. I was thinking I can take this pace. It was reasonable but not stupid like I feared. Then 1 km from the top the pace jumped almost imperceptibly to me. I barely noticed and then was off the back. I fought to stay with them and was only ever 20m off the back but couldn't close it. Got to top and turned left into west head (another short sharp hill) and they got further away. Bugger it was over before I really got into it. 

I saw someone ahead who had fallen off and started chasing him down, was waiting for some flattish sections to put my 'relative' hammer down - I'm not closing any gaps on a hill. A few others came up on me and now we were in a group of 5. I did some work on the front when it was flatter and they weren't going fast enough for my liking. We then Tried working together but the road is not flat and we then we hit more inclines and there was calls for work to be done. I was red zoning but took my turn and then blew up. Then any any hopes of 'racing' or catching anyone were away.... Now it was down to me to keep pushing.

I ITT'd the rest. I saw that the group broke up but they never came back to me even if they never seemed that far ahead at the turnarounds. I over took one guy with a number and a couple of females.

On second lap collected an A/B female who sucked my wheel til the end of the race (they had set off ahead of us). This gave me some company and kept me pushing hard in the second lap.

Jumped on the back of the A's when they went passed on final way back. They were on their third lap. Held them fine on the flats. But again hit an incline and they attacked. Plus may have been a bit of cat at mouse. Hence the ease at which I jumped on?? I think it was actually because it was a slight decline and that is again my relative advantage plus I saw them coming.

The finish line is ridiculous it's up a hill right after another hill that you have done a dead turn at the bottom of. Not my style of course but still enjoyed.

Took it home and was beasted. Took my number off and crawled home. I will for sure be back. D-grade next time. But showed me the marker I want to get to. Loved it even if I did very little 'racing'.

Got quite a few PRs so was happy with that and was very happy with the effort I put in. Haven't worked that hard on the bike, for that long, for a long time if ever.

Plus from the look of strava I wasn't actually last! But even if I was, still a good day out, you can only give as much as you have...

The start line at the bottom of Akuna.
Pinning my number on my jersey representing The Cove

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