Race date: 03-04-16
As I mentioned a week or so ago, I entered the open race for the Club Champs. I thought I might be racing with the pros, but there were no pros—my bad. There were some really strong local riders, like Dave Kelly and Shannon Johnson for those in the know.
First things first, it was, as expected, super fast. We were sitting at around 42km/h - 58km/h for the entire hour, in fact we averaged 45km/h. Oh yeah, the time was 15 minutes longer than I was used to, which really added to the pain and fatigue. There were moments around the 30/45 minute mark when I really wanted to throw the towel in. At 30 minutes I thought, “holy shit we’re only halfway and I’m already dying,” and at 45 minutes I thought “this is when we usually finish, and now I’m really about to die.” It was tough both mentally and physically.
Along with the fatigue inducing speed, the other thing I noticed, and something I hadn't anticipated really, was the confidence of the more experienced riders. Now, I am not usually phased by racing. You race and if you crash, well, it’s going to hurt. However, when you’re in a race with A/B graders, they like to get very close; definitely infringing on my personal space. Maybe I’m not allowed personal space?
These more experienced riders get very close, and at all times. Even when cornering. Picture this: you’re sitting at 50km/h, on a bike, and then you lean into a 90 degree corner, you have to lean quite a bit when you’re at this speed to navigate the corner successfully. You look to your left and there is someone practically underneath you. You look right and there is someone over the top of you. You look ahead and there is the wheel you’re following, just a few inches in front of your own wheel. And you hold your line as steady and predictable as possible so you don’t crash—which at these speeds is really going to hurt. You do this 4 times per lap for 1 hour. Your brain is as exhausted as your legs!
I raced hard though. I didn’t quit, despite my momentary weaknesses. I even sat on the front of the peloton—by accident—for about half a lap, which was pure pain and agony. By the end of the race—exhausted and not in the breakaway of 3—I decided to try and get into position and have a sprint. I didn’t manage to get into the greatest position, but I had a sprint anyway. I overtook numerous people and pissed off one guy—sorry mate. But because of my sprint I ended up finishing level with Lee “Hollywood” Turner, the SKCC president, and finished probably in the top 15. Just finishing was an accomplishment many others didn't manage.
I am pretty confident that I am not a D grader any more. I am self promoting myself to C grade. I race C at CCCC and HCC anyway, and I finished the open race for Club Champs, so I’m declaring that I succeeded in getting up to C, the goal I set after my first race.
That’s the last criterium of the season, so now it’s on to road racing. My first one being Saturday. Wish me luck!