Monday, 10 August 2009

Racing Calder Park

As Saturday was a regular Horse Owner’s Day (ie getting a load of hay) racing was off the schedule and replaced by some equine and house domesticity.

Sunday I ventured over to Calder Park for a Masters kermesse fest. Whilst the program had advertised for various levels of gradings for women, the women failed to show. Apparently there was a HUGE turnout at the St Kilda hosted Northern Combine on Saturday, and it seems backing up is not possible for women. Pity. In the end, I think two A grade women and 4 B grade women entered the kermesse. Not enough for quality racing into a raging headwind, so the women’s races were abandoned and we were absorbed into the general gradings with the men. No problem from me. I’d rather race 7 men than 3 women any day, just to get some decent competition (ie more bodies to hide behind and wheels to make use of).

8 of us rolled out in my race, including one other women. I had googled my opposition earlier in the week, as you do, and confirmed her as a handy crit rider. So my aim was to be ahead of her over the finish line. The conditions were pretty rugged, with a cold and determined headwind blasting along the straights of the course. Earlier in the day, racing was anti-clockwise, with a very hairy downhill entry through chicanes into a sharp double-apexed corner. During the warm up laps, each time I rode into That Corner, I was shifted a good foot sideways between the apexes, thanks to the lay of the road and the wind direction. I didn’t feel comfortable racing in those conditions, and made some comments to the commissaries. Apparently the course is usually raced the other way, by both cars and bikes, so the call was to try it the other way and report back to the commissaries. So I went for a spin, and it was immediately obvious the direction That Corner was meant to be raced: better camber, better sightlines into the chicanes and hill immediately after the corner, and the hit from the wind was not so dramatic: overall a much safer way to ride the course. It meant however, a longer ride into the beefy headwind. So the decision was made: racing was clockwise for the rest of the meet.

I managed to stay with the bunch for the first 20mins or so, and managed to stick with a small breakaway of 4, bridging a few gaps that opened up, unfortunately taking some wind getting good position and claiming wheels, making sure I was on the ball with the home straight tail wind sprints and sticking with the guys who looked the goods. By lap 3, my opposition was flagging through the faster sections, and not as strong uphill, but catching me on That Corner (that corner was my achilles unfortunately). Lap 4, Mr Daffodil plus a pursuing four finally broke away down the home straight and I was on to them. Through That Corner, I realised my opposition wasn’t with me. She wasn’t on us up the hill, and by the turn into the home straight, I realised she was gone, totally out of sight, along with one other. Job done. Next lap, I was just off the back into That Corner, not worried, thinking I could claim back distance on the hill. I was wrong- I claimed back some metres, but not enough, and as the guys hit the small downhill they broke free, leaving me to my fate.

Into the back straight headwind solo, and then through the bend into the home straight another guy was off the back. And I was on a mission, gaining on him. I needed him to get back onto the bunch. By the end of the home straight I’d about caught him up, at 48kph on flat legs. Then he did a quick left and headed for the exit. WTF???? Shit.. I’d just burnt a matchbox of matches to catch him and was dumped! A rapid change of plan was at hand: main opposition. Gone! Tow back to bunch. Gone! Another 20-30min of solo strength work. Woohoo Awesome! Maybe another one or two will crack over time with the wind and leg-sapping hill, and they’ll be mine! Bring it on!!!

At the 30 min mark, I was toying with pulling out, but for once, wasn’t in the defeated, demoralised and totally crushed box caused by being way off the back and arguing with malicious headwinds. It was just an idea, that came and went; a transitory picture in my head that I looked at momentarily and then rode right on by. At the 40min mark, I figured I only had another 2 laps to go, so made them as quality as I could, pushing the kphs up into the headwind with nothing to lose. Bell lap came and went noiselessly, thanks to a miscalculation on my part. Great! (That’s why I like track racing: there is a lap board to do the counting for you). So there was nothing for it but to pull out another lap as best I could. I finished in 5th place, with Mr Daffodil well off the front, and me half a lap behind a small bunch of 3. Interestingly enough, the small bunch of 3 gained that half a lap quite quickly in the early stages, then stayed there, failing to achieve any more distance on me, and even losing a little in the final laps.

Overall, I was really happy with my race, and was let down only by my lack of confidence/aggression through that corner. I finished (always a good move), rode hard, my speed is returning and Race Brain is becoming a more regular visitor. Sweet.


Nonie said...

Awesome report! I didn't realise the kermesse was on, otherwise I would have been out there as well. Oh well, hopefully CSV will put another one on soon.

Aaron DC said...