Race date: 24/02/16
What an eye opener. As I mentioned in the last race report, I was bumped up to C grade. I went into the race with a bit of apprehension, but also with a little bit of confidence left over from winning D grade by a decent gap. I figured if I could stick with the bunch, I’d be able to unleash a sprint up the hill and win. Or at least do alright. You need to believe in yourself when racing…
The race kicked off without any sherpas (marshalls), and the first lap was fairly controlled. As soon as we went up the hill for the second time, the pace quickened. Luckily, I was in a decent position, about 5th wheel, however I was on the outside so not exactly sheltered. The wind was behaving similarly to the previous week; a headwind on the back straight.
On the second lap I peddled to the front and sat there for a bit, which wasn’t too difficult. My power remained below threshold, so I was happy to be at the front, ready for the hill, ready to see what I’d got myself in for. On this course the front is better than the back.
I went up the hill and, although I had to push pretty hard still, it was definitely manageable. Same for the following lap. My confidence was growing. I can actually win this, I thought.
As we approached the hairpin for the fourth time, A grade were right on us. We had to slow right down to let them take the corner, and in doing so I practically had to stop and do a track stand.
Once A grade passed, I thought we’d resume as we were, but apparently my competition had other ideas, and saw this as a chance to take me down. I was leading up to now afterall. I’m pretty sure it was a big conspiracy, but I’ll let it slide. Well, almost the whole grade went passed me, and at the time, I didn’t really think much of it. In hindsight, I’d just made a really big mistake. I pushed hard up the hill and got into mid pack, but I’d definitely gone into the red a bit. The lung bags did not feel good.
I figured midpack would be okay. I said to myself, not out loud I hope, “maybe if I sit here for a few laps I’ll get myself out of the red.” So I sat where I was, trying to lower my heart rate and clear some toxic air from the lungs. Deep, long breaths.
We hit the hairpin again and the cornering speed, even at midpack, was slow. Really slow. Breaking was required. By the time I rounded the corner and hit the bottom of the hill, the guys in front were already half way up it. Oh no… Once again I dug deep to get back into contention. Once again exhausting myself, pushing my heart rate way on up into the red. My plan was not going well. It couldn’t be going worse, in fact: I was not recovering in the slightest.
I couldn’t believe that a couple of laps ago I thought I was in for a chance at the win. What a complete idiot I was back then. How embarrassing! Well, at least nobody knows, oh wait, I guess you readers do now…
Anyway, the race continued in this way for the next few laps, except if you could just imagine me gradually slipping further back each lap, yep, that’s it, you’ve got it. Each time I slipped back it made the hill sprint even harder. Coupled with the fact I couldn’t feel my legs any more, due to numbness, it was made harder still. Talk about interval training!
So, apart from the numb legs, bursting lungs and a heart sitting nicely on its max, it was getting quite painful. My psychological state wasn’t too easy either. I couldn’t keep this up much longer. I looked down and we’d only be racing for just over 10 minutes. So really that’s only about 6 or 7 laps. It felt like way more, and I’ve probably made it sounds like more…
I thought about it for a moment, and decided it was time to break away. And two other guys joined me. Unfortunately I broke away from the wrong end of the peloton, being spat out of the back rather than jumping from the front. It was totally a choice though…
The other two guys that joined me were saying that they had only been promoted recently; one two weeks ago and the other three weeks ago. They were claiming that this week was faster, sooner, but who knows. I think we’ve all got to put some hard yards in.
The three of us continued together for another 10 minutes until the bunch came into view, but it was a heart dropping and fear inducing view: they were coming from behind. Without much reluctance—we hadn’t the energy—we were absorbed and then lapped.
You see once you lose the bunch, they will continue to go at that faster pace that you couldn’t quite match. Certainly faster than you can hold on your own, or as a three. There’s much less shelter from the wind and and less people to help keep the speed high.
Yep. So that happened. Not a good day on the track.