Saturday, 29 May 2010


Vic Metro Road Championships:
I went to bed early looking to get a good sleep in, but for some reason I just couldn't get settled. Maybe it was nerves, maybe it was the awesome Giro d'Italia begging to be watched (I watched a little when sleep obviously wasn't going to happen), but whatever it was, it wasn't ideal prep for a race. As Ian did the driving out to Newstead I got a few moments of shut eye in, not enough to make me feel fresh, but like my grandmother used to say "never look a gift nap in the mouth".

So we're a full paragraph in, and it'll probably be another until I actually talk about the race. This should be an indication that things weren't perfect in the race and I'm stalling for time while I think of a way to make it sound good.

Walking around My glutes and hamstrings were still tight, as I warmed up I found this meant I couldn't spin a high cadence and it felt like power was down a bit. Oh well, might as well spend some time out of the saddle putting my fatboy legs to use.

The race itself was 4 laps of a 30km course, the profile reminded me a bit of the TdB route, so I figured I'd at least make 1 lap before things went pear shaped.

I was right, I did make at least one lap, a couple of poor bunch positioning decisions meant I had to work a few times. James Herd got away up the road early and no one seemed eager to bring him back in. Still that doesn't mean it was easy, each hill saw riders attacking. Mostly I was positioned forwards and able to catch a wheel, but a couple of times I was positioned poorly and had to work hard to chase the tail of the bunch. One of these moments was near the end of the first lap, in fact it was the last hill. My legs were on fire and there was a gap of a metre or so to the wheel in front. "Past me" (that fucker) had claimed I wouldn't go easy from this race, in fact I'd only go "kicking and screaming". I cursed "past me" and asked myself if the pain was at 100%, when the answer was no, I dug deeper into the hole I was in.

The next lap wasn't much nicer, my legs were starting to feel a tad shite (yes, my legs get an Irish accent when they're feeling poorly), still that just forced me to ride smarter. No more pulling turns at the front, better positioning before a hill, maximising my use of a draft.... basically the stuff I don't do when cocky about feeling strong. Sadly good intention isn't the same as perfect execution and round the back on a steep kicker a split in the bunch formed. Myself and a few others lacked the strength to chase back on so we formed a group. Working hard through the flatter sections that followed, all bar one of us rolling clinical turns, we got back on before the last two climbs of the course.

This time I managed to get over the top cleanly, but was stuck on the descent behind the 4 wide bunch as two riders went off the front. When we hit the flat and some space formed on the right I made a decision, the surging attacks of the bunch was frying my already par-cooked legs, so I was going to get over to the two riders (James Mowatt and Sean Hurley) and see if steady effort would suit me better.

I pulled out and accelerated up the right, it was by no means a brutal or stinging attack, but it didn't look like anyone was responding. Clear off the front I got low and tried to drive my bike hard across to the two. Somewhere in no man's land it all started to get a touch hard. Pain elongated time, giving me an opportunity to re-evaluated my life and all the decisions I've made since self-consciousness began sometime around 1 years old. The matter that got most review was why I hated my body enough to try and chase down two strong riders by myself. The question evaporated when Mark came around me with a grunted word of encouragement. With a new life purpose of "Get Mark to the break and do what you can to help it stay away" I sat for a moment and then pulled around again driving all the way through to Sean's wheel.

I was in my own personal hell, and we'd just crossed the line for lap 2. I sat on for a moment to catch some semblance of my breath then pulled a couple of turns. Around the corner into the headwind I hadn't felt on the last two laps, I pulled one long last effort then waved them through. I know we'd put 15-20 seconds into the bunch, but it felt like a mere second before the pack was on me and I had to kick to get on. I managed to get myself safely back towards the front but when the rider in front missed a wheel and everyone started streaming past I knew there was no chance I'd be able to gain the extra kilometre an hour or so I'd need to get on.

I'd gone out, not with a bang but a whimper. Kicking and screaming didn't happen, but I wasn't guilt ridden, angry or even disappointed. By the time It was just Clarky and I rolling slowly around to complete the 3rd lap I was spent. My legs felt like jelly, each hill they threatened to go out on strike.

With a body not up to par before the race I'd raced an a-grade road race (I've never raced an a-grade road race before). I hadn't finished, but I hadn't shamed myself. I'd pushed myself both mentally and physically, leaving everything that I had on the road. Ok, maybe not everything, somehow I'd managed to keep my breakfast with me, despite it trying to gatecrash the party a few times.

Maybe next race I'll hold off on the deadlifts 2 days before. Maybe.

D: 90.6km
A: 710m

Result: DNF, but certainly not the first bloke to do so.

PMPW: 92kg

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