Race date: 31/01/16
The start of the Criterium Carnival (which is now over). Five local cycling clubs teamed up to create a bit of a series of racing. 6 races throughout the week. First up was Caulfield Carnegie Cycling Club (CCCC) at Glenvale. Unfortunately, I couldn't actually make it to any of the other races… Partly because of that day job that gets in the way of cycling, and also because there is a stage race on called the Herald Sun Tour. This year it features none other than Chris Froome, two times Tour de France champion. A couple of the stages were within my grasp to watch and so I will be watching those rather than racing.
I wanted to race last Sunday, so I took part despite not being able to race in any of the others. If I had been able to, I might have won the whole thing. We'll never know...
Anyway, I’ve recently been taking the whole cycling thing a lot more seriously. You might have noticed if you follow me on instagram… I think I might actually be losing non-cyclist followers.
I only mention this because, with all the extra training, I am feeling rather fatigued of late, always fatigued. There is a constant dull ache in my legs.
I think that because this carnival was on it made the race that much faster—read harder. Not only that, but it was a big field: 60 people in fact. Big field and a big deal = a fast race. We averaged 41km/h for the 53 minute race.
I like this criterium course because there is a lot of room. It feels safer than that of SKCC's.
In this particular race there were attacks right from the start. Attacks in these grades often mean the field increases its speed until the attacked is reeled back in. No one escapes! Everyone chases.
The first attack of any threat—no attack is a real threat but you still can’t let them get away else people won’t work together to bring them back in later—came after about 10 minutes. Weirdly enough, the guys on the front at the time were not making much of an effort to bring them back. I might have left them also, but last time I thought like this, no one helped me chase the guy down when it became a serious threat. You can read about that in the last race report. We were only rolling in the mid 30s, so I figured I’d slowly move to the front and just continue to push on. If the peloton latched on, then I’d pull back the break, if they didn’t, I’d join the break. Win win.
I pushed hard, and managed to reel the break in quite easily. They actually looked as though they’d sat up a bit, so I rolled passed them and kept the pace high for about a lap. The bunch had latched on, not to me but to the guys that were formerly in the break.
After a lap spent catching the break and another on the front, the fatigue really started to hit me. Hard! Fatigue is real, guys. You better believe it. I could feel every muscle fibre burning. I’ve felt it before, but usually just a few muscles hurt. This was different. I swear, every single fibre hurt. I tried to keep going but got swamped by the bunch and quickly fell through the ranks. Before I knew it I was being spat out of the back. I went from being the "strong" guy on the front to the weak guy getting dropped, in a matter of seconds! It was not fun. I just saw everyone passing me, and with a confused and worried look on my face, I found some tiny bit of energy, just enough to hold on to the last guy's wheel. The fear of getting dropped has never been so high. That would be race over for sure. There's no coming back from that.
After this horrible episode, I didn’t do much more work on the front. I spent a few laps recovering, and then I made my way to the front again, but quickly got swamped and ended up near the back. It was chaos. It was too hard and took too much effort to get to the front and stay there. Everyone wanted to be there I guess. So after trying to maintain a good position for a while, I gave up and sat near the back. Why bother.
The final 3 laps; that’s where I would burn some energy getting into position. And that is what I did. Actually I lie, I waited for the last 2 laps. I moved on up the outside, near the front. Staying at least 2nd or 3rd wheel. I wanted to stay on the outside, and this meant that I wasn’t getting much of a slipstream. I didn’t want to get boxed in again, like I have been so many times. It's very difficult to get the perfect place. Either I draft and get boxed in or I sit on the outside and use up more energy. I guess you can’t have everything in racing, just like life.
Going into the penultimate straight, I was already feeling that serious fatigue I was talking about earlier, but I was going to give it my all. I was probably sitting in about 10th going around the final corner. I was looking for a wheel to suck, but couldn’t really get on one.
As usual the sprint started way back, right from the corner, with about 200m to go! With no wheel to follow and about 9 places to make up—if I wanted to win—I started my sprint also. On a side note, I really need to train for a longer sprint, because by the time I got halfway towards the finish line, I was running on fumes. My legs felt like jelly. My lungs were about to pop. My heart was pounding like a jackhammer. Harder even. But my stubborn brain would not allow me to quit. I knew everyone else was probably hurting just as much as I was. I was further egged on by the fact that I had made up a few places. With all my effort I managed to squeeze into the top 5. Top 5, doesn’t that sound better than 5th? I think so. But alas, no podium, again. NEXT TIME!!