As I waited the start line in the 36 degree heat one of my team mates stood next to me and learned over,”Just aim to keep in the middle of the pack and you will be fine”. I felt OK but a bit apprehensive. A year ago I was being dropped in our local D-Grade criterium races and I was now lined up in Division 3 of the Orica Kermesse.
I spent the morning watching the girls and juniors race. The division 2 womens race turned out to be a bit of a non event with the Central Coast Cycling Club (CCCC) women being outnumbered and not having the opportunity to have a hard race. The CCCC Juniors took out 2 other races available.
It’s been almost 6 months to the day since I started work with Mick Curran as my coach. I am sometimes confounded by where we end up, not so long ago I would never have dreamed of even riding my bike to work, let alone being under the guidance of a World Record Holder and multiple National Champion.
This was the first time I was competing outside of Central Coast Cycling Club and was one of my 2016 goals. The nerves where there but I knew I had trained hard and just starting the race ticked off that goal. The longer I could hang on to the race, the further I had come in my training.
With the heat I was mindful of the 2 bottles I had and spoke with somebody to try to get a refill mid race if needed. Once we were off the pace went out at about 40kph for the first lap. A 3 man break went out but my goal was to stay and finish with the bunch. It was both awesome and a bit daunting racing in a group of 60. The HEZ roads had us at 3 abreast most of the way.
The break came back about half way through the second lap. I was just feeling good because I had ticked off 1 full lap. There was some surging but nothing to drastic, just lots of 20 second 300-400w bursts. I found the hardest part of the course the start/finish straight but I think so did most of my division as they mostly coasted after the roundabout. The sprint out the entry roundabout proved to be the biggest repeated effort.
I was still there by lap 3 and the group seemed to have fallen into a rhythm. I’m not sure if this was a good or bad thing but many around seemed to be tiring. Passing the lap board I thought “one more down, maybe I can hang on here”
I’m not sure what happened but on lap 5 the group got split into three just after the round-about a 4 man break had gone and a small group behind had formed. Somebody had let a gap form and within seconds it went right out. I wondered if this was the race done but moved up the front of our group and worked with another guy to bring it back. Didn’t take long and the group was back to one.
A second rider went off the front but the group let him go, having said that they smashed it out of the turnaround at the entrance and it took a bit to make sure I did not get a gap. I was bunched in and moving with 3 other CCCC riders about half way back when I heard a motorbike. Thinking that we had to let a faster group through I turned around and I was on the back. I looked back at the group and it seemed like that last surge had wiped out half the group. I could be wrong but we started with over 60 and there was not 60 here…
Coming back to finish area, down the hill we were on the second last lap about to tick over for the last. I was feeling a bit more confident with the race, and even trying to make a few plans of how I would approach the last stage and straight. I came around the bottom right hand corner onto the straight and just as I was straightening the bike back up I hear a bang and the front wheel goes into the air as it comes down I get the bike back under control and all I can hear is a hissing noise. I put my hand up and pull over. I’m not sure what happened but I’m pretty sure I hit something and hit it hard. (On examination after it was a pinch flat with a nice big snake bite) The motorbike behind me stepped and got some debris of the road but I was at the bottom of the hill by this stage. I looked around but with no team car with a spare wheel I was stuck in no mans land and begin the kilometer or so walk back to the were the club was soigneuring in the feed zone. I thought well at least I can have a drink, look down and my bidon is gone…
Taking the positives away I kept up for the bulk of the group and am confident I would have at least been with the bunch at the end. At the end of the day I was down the price of a tube and I did not have an accident. It was very cool to be in such a big group and soak up the atmosphere of such an event. And even got to through my bidon of to the side (Managed to land it next to my car)
I took the opportunity to take some pictures of other CCCC & MCC riders before heading down to watch the final finishes.
Big kudos to HDCC for putting on the event, CCCC for supporting us all and of course Mick Curran for getting me to a stage to tick of another goal. Did you attend or get some pics? Drop me a line and let me know how you went.
And as always big thanks to the Pushy Galore crew.