May 262007

Friday night, I fell asleep at about 10:30pm while watching Man on Fire. Soon after I was cajoled into bed, and slept like a baby until 7:30am, whereupon I woke up, looked at the time and thought “Oh crap, I’m going to be so late for work.” I let Amanda know about this before I realised that it was Saturday. Whoops.

We drove on down to Crib Point, stopping in Hastings to get a peppered steak pie before the race. Yum. I wandered over to register for D grade, and got myself ready to go.

After a quick warmup, the race was off. I estimate somewhere between 30-40 riders in D grade. 5 laps, 40km. My game plan was to ride the first lap and see what the course was like, and then make up another plan. It’s a mostly flat course, ( with just 30 metres of vertical climbing.

The first lap turned out to be fairly quick on the back stretch, cruising around 46km/hr, but it was a slight downhill. I found myself near the back of the pack coming into the final stretch, and then we were on lap 2.

I moved closer to the front, and soon took a turn on the front. I figured I’d see what this bunch could do, and brought the speed up, hoping that I wouldn’t be exhausted too early. Another guy overtook me on the front, so I latched onto his wheel, and brought the bunch with us. Close to the end of the lap, he fell off the front and I was leading as we went over the finishing line.

Lap 3 will be forever known as the lap where noone did anything. I was briefly off the front, and Alex commented that this lap was feeling more sedate. All I could say was sorry :) I found myself on the front again soon after, and doing short turns with another guy. Unfortunately, noone else wanted to help us, and so the lap finished with me crossing the finish line in the lead again…

… Until the road started heading upwards in Lap 4. I was spat out the back of the pack, and had to dig to stay on. One guy just in front of me told me to go past as he wasn’t even in the race – but he must have been appreciating the slipstream! Two of us came detached from the peloton around the first corner, but I managed to tow us back in. From there, I sat in and rested, and the group was accommodating, only doing about 31km/hr.

“Bell, bell, bell” was called by the lap counter as we crossed the line, and Lap 5 was on – but nothing happened for the first half. Feeling more rested, I finished off my Staminade and stayed on the outside, moving up to be near the front. It was a fast lap, and I was about 5th wheel about 1km out. The sprint went off, and unfortunately two guys in front of me ran out of steam about 200 metres before the line, but I managed to dodge around, build up speed and come in with a comfortable 7th.

Not a bad effort! 43 km, riding time 1:12, about 36 km/hr average. As it’s such a flat course, no one would ever be able to breakaway unless you had a decent sized team working together. I was hoping to exhaust some people before the sprint, but the final couple of laps was too sedate to exhaust anyone. Luckily, I was able to recover enough to get a decent sprint in, something I’ve never been able to do at a crit before.

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