(Photo credit: Katie Quinn) Race date: 02-03-16
Back to C grade at HCC on the back of the recent win in D at SKCC. Keat and JLamb were also competing, and Katie and Sam also came down to form the most unlikely of cheerleading squads—but the best. We were just missing Taylor Swift for a full squad…
Katie had intended on racing, but was too slow in getting from Sunshine to the crits. To be honest, if she couldn’t make that short commute in time, it was probably best she didn’t race anyway...
This was also Keat’s comeback race, since his crash at the SKCC Supercrit. So he was nervous, but needed to harden up and jump back on the horse—or the bike—so to speak.
JLamb’s last race at HCC was in D grade. He would have probably lapped the field a couple of times had he been forced to race in that grade. However, he managed to blag his way into B grade. This was his intention and I thought it might've been a bit of a stretch, but he certainly proved me wrong on the night.
As I arrived at the parcours, a bit late and with no knowledge of who was there and what was happening—had Katie made it on time and was she racing, was JLamb racing in D grade or B grade, and had Keat crashed yet. I was pleased to see JLamb attacking B grade and Keat still upright. No sign of the ManneQuinn though. Oh, this is why I’ve nicknamed her ManneQuinn (her surname is Quinn):
JLamb was actually at the front of the race for the majority of it. The best place to be and good to see him holding his own in such a high grade. Keat was sitting in the back half of the bunch, not particularly the easiest place to be, but he was also holding his own and finished with the pack. Great job team!
I was to race in the second session; the C grade and A grade races. After watching the other guys race, I picked up and pinned on my number, which the ManneQuinn kindly documented. Here’s what that looks like:
The local superstar, and a member of HCC, Brendan Canty turned up for a race, on the back of his spectacular performance at the Tour of Oman (it's a big race with a lot of the best pros racing), where he placed 7th overall and won the best young rider category. It would be pretty awesome to be peddling round the crit circuit at the same time as him. It was also quite surreal to see him fly passed our grade on the hill whilst he was breaking away from A grade. We were going at about 35km/h up that hill and he went passed quite quickly. Unreal.
I digress: When the race got underway, I had a game plan and I really wanted to stick to it: DO NOT GET CAUGHT AT THE BACK. The plan immediately went awry when my Garmin decided to play up! It was either race without it or try and fix it on the move. I went with the fixing it option, and lost position in the bunch. In the end I did a hard shutdown and rebooted it. After about 3 laps I started it again. That meant about 5 minutes had passed, so I figured 25 minutes would be left on the clock before the last 3 laps. Safe.
I was feeling okay and quickly moved back into a good position. I even decided to push on the front of the bunch, this made climbing the hill much easier, although on one occasion I went around the hairpin with a bit too much gusto, brushing the edge of it. So pro. Not.
I made the decision to stay in the drops for this race—the drops are the curly bit that hang down on road bike handlebars—and therefore climbing up the hill was a little bit foreign to me, being in such a low position. The reason I made this decision was because I saw practically all of B grade and A grade doing this, and most of C grade too. It must be a sign…
I felt pretty strong all race. Making attacks here and there. Pushing on the front and off it too, and holding my own in the pack when recovery was needed. I felt like I belonged there, which was a relief after my disastrous attempt last week which left me feeling like a C grade fraud.
Unfortunately for me, as I hammered it into the lead once more, I started to feel my lower back ache. We were about 20 minutes into the race, according to my Garmin, so around 25 minutes in the real race time, so I fought on. I was thinking I could just endure the twinge of pain for another 7 minutes, or whatever was left. However, a couple of laps later and I couldn’t push anymore. I mean I could’ve but I feared I’d be causing myself an unnecessary injury; better to live to fight another day.
I pulled out after about 30 minutes of racing, or thereabouts. At the time I put it down to the fact I’d been riding in the drops, and so my flexibility was the factor at hand, or lack thereof. Or maybe my core strength was the issue. I’d work on both I decided.
JLamb didn’t stick around after his race, as he’s in mad training mode, but the rest of us headed on to Baby Pizza in Richmond for, you guessed it, pizza. Great recovery food—in my opinion, not science's.
The next day, as the back pain dissipated, it began to feel achy in the same sort of way your muscles do after a good workout. I then remembered that I’d upped my weight on the deadlift front on Tuesday, the day before my race. Not only that, but to save my legs I’d chosen to do Romanian deadlifts—back only, no legs. That must’ve been it. I’ll still stretch and work on my core because that's important, but I’ll also move the deadlifts to Thursday.
I can take a lot away from this race though. I felt like I can hold my own in C grade, no longer being a fraud. I just need to see if I can finish strongly with them now, and maybe take a podium in time. With only a few races at HCC left, one of which I can’t do and one in the midst of a big training week, it might have to wait until next summer.