Wednesday, 5 August 2015

SCC Club ITT & Handicap Crit - AKA my first Crit

Sunday 26th July was the Sydney Cycling Club's ('SCC') Club ITT and Crit down at Heffron Park, nr Maroubra. The Club crit was supposed to be the perfect way to get a taster for crit racing but with a smaller number of entrants meaning safer and less hectic.

Found my way down to Heffron, and unloaded the bike from the car. Having signed on and got my number i went for a spin to see the course having never ridden it before. it is a simple 2k course, flat apart from two very small rises and a nice couple of straights - nice depending on the wind direction. half way round the lap and the bike is making that creaking noise again, WHAT IS IT??? The replacement cheap saddle i bought the day before seems ok, although it still isn't tight enough and is moving about, or am i moving about i can't tell. The surface is not as smooth as i would have thought for a purpose cycling circuit, but neither is it bad. none of the corners require the breaks, just good conrering. that's if you are going fast enough, otherwise it doesn't really matter.

The format was a 12k (6 lap) ITT which would then determine the seedings and the respective handicaps for the Handicap Sprint. We were set of in numbered order at 30 second intervals. I hammered off in a big gear, which clearly i couldn't hold. Legs didn't give me much today. Despite dropping the running down to 65k this week the effort was still in the legs (that or this was just my standard). Set my fastest of the 6 laps on the first lap. I felt i was going to blow so eased off for the rest of the ITT, maintaining a solid (for me), but dissappointing pace. Was overtaken by a good number of other competitors and there was only 16 of us (apparently numbers were down on normal club events).  THe bike continued to make that annoying noise which was breaking my concentration, but hey not as if i had much more in the legs to give. Finished the ITT in just under 22mins. after looking at the data, my HR was low and pace at 33.4km/hr was dissappointing. Hopefully the low HR points to more to come if hadn't done so much running.

The crit ('criterium') was to be a handicap race and I was seeded in the bottom group of four riders, as defined my time in the ITT. There were to be three groups of 4 (I think) each set off at different intervals, with the aim of completing 10 laps of Heffron first. We were given a piece of advice on the start line and that was "to work as a team, try and stay away as long as possible, and then jump onto the fast boys if and when they caught us". So that is pretty much what we did. One of the group was dropped on the way to the first bend and then the remaining three worked well as  ateam. The work load wasn't exactly even. THe lady and I were doing the most work and I felt like I was doing the most. But she may also have felt the same. I pulled down the start finish straight and then the next straight for most of the laps. But overall we were working well together and managed to stay away for 8 or so laps. We saw them coming for a lap or two and realised that we weren't going to stick it out. 

They caught us on the way back in. INitially it looked like there was one group, so as soon as the first riders came by I tried to bridge, the other two riders in my group blocked the racing line and left me woth a gao to get to. I started trying to bridge to thr three riders (who were now evidently the a group - they had just dropped the b group as they neared us. I started to close the gap in on the group, but it was closing too slowly and I couldn't maintain the pace to get into the drag that i would need to stay with them. So i pulled back and then jumped onto the back of the next group - two randoms and the girl from my group. I snuck in on the back and then sat about doing no work but making sure I stayed in contact when the lead two changed places and little gaps opened up on some of the corners.

Coming back on the last lao one of the fromnt two made a break when he moved to the front and gapped from the other rider. He couldn't close the gap. I considered jumping and closing the gap. I felt that I probably could, but wasn't sure either of my ability to do so or as to whether that was the right call. So I sat in, which meant there were now 4 riders up the road and our group of three fighting for 5-7th. We rounded the last two bends and entered the final straight. I decided to go big or go home (well at that stage anyway) and jump hard and wide off the back from the beginning of the straight (c300m). I powered down the RHS and left the other two for dead. The guy in 4th was coasting to the finish and if there had been another 50-100m he would have been in trouble. I felt like I was flying in a proper Cav like sprint. ALthough looking at my topp speed of 50km/h it would have looked fairly stationary relative to the near 80km/h they get to in a sprint. Still it felt real and pretty cool to me.

after the crit they did the positions and to my surpirse they went down to 5th. and to my even bigger surprise i was awarded a $25 bike bug gift voucher for my troubles. That and two doughnuts after the race was a grood return for the morning. thoroughly enjoyed my first crit. And whilst it only had 12 people competing, it was a good introduction and great fun. After I have finished the marathon i will focus more on the riding and will be back for more club crits and them maybe some of the open crits on a saturday arvo.

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