Whilst there was probably dog, horse, horse ‘n’ cart, pigeon and guinea pig racing on last Thursday, there was no track racing at DISC, thanks to a little drip. The drip was well-placed, on the very edge of the duck board in corner one, which lead the race organisers to deem the track too unsafe for racing (good call) but still safe enough for everyone to ride around on for an hour or so afterwards, as they saw fit (ie a dogs breakfast) (bad call). Me, I sat on the rollers for a bit, after a good warm up session on the boards (prior to the No Racing call) then headed home for an early bed time.
Saturday, Coach and I headed off to my home club for some friendly racing. The change to the start times from after lunch to after breakfast is one that I fully appreciate, as it doesn’t take up the whole day to go racing. Unfortunately, only a small number turned up, mainly A and B graders, as it seems that the change of time slipped a lot of people’s mind. Oops.
The weather was typical winter Gippsland: grey, very windy, wet. Coach and I did some warm up laps, then the racing group of 8 did a lap together while the race signage was put out (Thanks to Chris for kicking off his slippers and donning his boots to do a quick run around the circuit in his truck). A bit of discussion about format, distances etc, and the group headed out for a 4km mass start. LCCC ring-in, Tunksy and I were the official C grade and stayed together, swapping turns over the gusty and rolling Fontera circuit. We pushed ourselves over the first two laps, then decided such punishment wasn’t sustainable for the next two laps. Seven times over the climb to Fontera was too much for my trackie legs, and as Tunksy passed me in the final 500m, giving me a nod for the previous 1km leadout, I urged him on for a decisive, well-deserved win, while I slowly collapsed in a heap, dragging my sorry legs up towards the finish line. It’s not often I enjoy road racing, but I do have a heap of fun when I get to do with it with my club.
Sunday I backed up at the Altona Crits. Interestingly, none of the 7-8 women who raced Sunday wanted to race in a women’s only race. Besides the shortened race time offered for women (30minutes) most want to ride against those of a similar ability, and the disparity between the women is too great in such a small field to make it enjoyable and meaningful for all concerned. The racing is either too easy or too hard, with no happy medium for all concerned. But it also says to me that women are not afraid to race when they want to. Pitting yourself against the guys means some tough racing at times, which should result in improved fitness and skills (I hope!!!) for those women who do step up to race with the guys.
Anyway, I raced D grade, keen for the extra 20 minutes of racing, and the mentoring offered by Footscray members to that group. The first 20 minutes were “under control” and we sat in the low 30’s on the shorter circuit, constantly getting blasted head on and side on (both sides) with a too short span of tail wind. During the 50min of racing, the wind picked up, so that each lap in the last 10min progressively got worse in the battle of the block headwind. I stayed up the front of the bunch for the first 25min, watching my positioning, hunting for wheels, claiming wheels off guys, and losing a few metres each corner (oops, need to work on that; but not as many metres as I used to) only to regain those metres with some sprint efforts out of each corner, reclaiming my pre-corner position. I’ve not raced a crit since May 17, so was happy with how I handled the race overall.
Once the control was removed, racing was on, and I managed to hang in for a couple of laps until the jump went in corner 2. I was at the front, well positioned, but was crowded by some guys who had moved forward to take the corner. I hesitated as I felt the pressure of proximity, and in that hesitation, missed the jump through the corner, and was decisively spat out the back. The bunch was slowly ripped apart by three strong riders and the heavy wind, over the next 25min of racing, with a lot of ITT going on, including myself. Once spat, my aim was to see how long I could hang in before the wind and hammy pain beat me in to submission. I stuck it out until the laps were called and my left glute finally called it quits. I was happy with that, and am really looking forward to the next crit to get my cornering back in order and well nailed.