(photo credit: Yow Keat Tham)
Race date: 08-03-16
Well my legs are getting a kick in this week.
For those that don’t know, which is pretty much everyone, I started using a training app called TrainingPeaks back in January. It’s really useful for showing you data in a digestible manner, however, I really like it for the ability to plan your weeks. I have also got a yearly plan set out which aims to peak you for certain events. The app basically then tells me how many hours I should be training each week. This week is a big one at 14 hours…
Because of this bigger than usual week, and with the weather being rather precarious, I am basically getting out on any ride I can. That meant that come Tuesday, a 38 degree day, I went out in the morning for the Hells 500 #RFWYA ride, which I’ve written about before. It’s a tough one; an hour of smashing it up hills.
Then, because YOLO, I decided to hit up a regular bunch ride that I’d not done before, unofficially called Tuesday Night Champs, which is a cruisey roll down to Mordialloc, and then a smashfest on the way back. What Ryan, the guy I did it with, didn’t tell me, was that Drew Ginn—a three time rowing Olympian and part of the Oarsome Foursome—often joined at Mordi and smashed it home. He’s an animal! There was a strong headwind, but he still managed to average about 45km/h all the way back, hitting speeds of 57km/h in places. He wasn't always on the front, but he was for the majority of the ride. For me, with those speeds, the headwind, the fact it was still 36 degrees, and the morning ride in the legs, I was fully wrecked after that day. Never mind, it’s not like I was racing the next day…
But I was racing the next day.
In a bizarre turn of events, as I rode over to HCC for the crits I was feeling pretty okay. Yes, there was a bit of fatigue in the legs, but there always is. That’s just life now I figure. I made it to the crits, pinned my number on (no shots of that this time I’m afraid) and waited. Keat was racing so I watched him for a bit too. He did well, moved up to the front a bit.
The race did the usual lap and a half under control and then things kicked off, because I made them. I figured I’d see if these legs of mine were really feeling okay, so as soon as we hit the back straight, I put a bit of power down and pulled off the front. That’s right, smart idea. Attack on the first lap. I bet everyone loved me! Nobody's having an easy one tonight.
I managed to maintain a small gap for about two laps, yet, inevitably, I was caught at the top of the hill. I then spent a couple of laps resting. I took my head out of the game for a matter of minutes and started to slip back within the bunch, and was then boxed in. I panicked a bit—well probably not panic as such, but I wasn’t happy. I needed to get back up the front. I had to slip right back to the back of the bunch to get out of the box I was in. I felt like Greg the gecko which had appeared in our office that day. I put him in a box, but he escaped. I would do the same. Don't worry, I found him again and released him into the wild.
Anyway, my intention was to slip back and then try to move up the outside, because the inside was a mess and all blocked. It turns out I'm not as good at escaping my box as young Greg was. I therefore hit the hairpin corner right at the back, and knew I had a tough uphill sprint ahead of me.
I dug in and pushed hard up the climb to get into good position, sprinting passed where I would usually ease up. I then realised, at the same time, that it was easier to keep position if you went hard for just a little bit longer. Go a bit longer, check. As soon as I got back to the front, someone else attacked. Nope. I couldn't go with him, so I just sat up and caught my breath. My lungs really felt it this race. Good for the VO2 max I guess.
For the rest of the race I did some more attacking, but towards the end of the race I was feeling absolutely empty. I then had the usual “do I belong here” thoughts cross my mind. I was in pain, and my lower back started to ache again. I figured that as it will be my last race at HCC this season, I’d just ride through the pain—there were only about 7 minutes left anyway. I managed to hold on to the bunch until the three laps to go sign was shown. Now it was crunch time; let’s see what I have left.
On the three laps to go lap I simply sat in and tried to make sure I was in good position. I stuck to this plan. A miracle in itself. I knew my best chances were to sit in until the penultimate straight, and make my move then—like when I won in D grade. But on the two laps to go lap a strong rider that I’d marked made a move. I was already sat on his wheel, so I decided to go with him. I was feeling pretty confident in that split second… We caused a bit of a gap. Now we just needed to hold it. We sprinted up the hill, and I used up all of my remaining energy.
As I crested the hill, I knew I’d made a terrible mistake. I was done! But there was just one lap left, push on mate, I thought. I dug as deep as I could go. I needed to maintain this gap all the way to the final corner if I was to stand any chance. I was confident I could dig out a sprint and podium.
Half way down that back straight and I thought I was going to pass out, bonk as us cyclists call it; it's a thing. I’d really blown up in a big way. I couldn’t really see straight. But I kept telling myself: last lap, dig in! I was putting down as much power as I could, yet the bunch came flying by me. There’s nothing quite as devastating as pushing as hard as you can and being overtaken with, what appeared to be, relative ease. Damn. Dream over.
I just about managed to keep on the back of the bunch—I almost gave up and pulled out—and put everything I had left into my sprint. It was just training now. I managed to finish not last, so that’ll do.