Yesterday 28th May, I did my first road race!! I had spoken about not doing a road race this year as I didn’t think I was “good enough” for the field but an opportunity came up with Footscray Cycling Club which had a “Women’s Novice” field and free race licenses.
As we were in the middle of no-where, the course was very rough and exposed. If it wasn’t for the opportunity of riding behind the ride leaders/organisers, we would have been pushing through the headwind. When the climb started, this was when the group started to split up with the stronger riders forging on ahead. I wasn’t too familiar with the course so I didn’t push too hard to get through that climb. After the first climb, it was a great descent where I could catch up on the main group. There was a stretch of road where it was narrow and the roads were rough. For some reason, I was riding very close to the edge and before I knew it, I had slid off the edge and landed on my head (hard).
I sat there for a few minutes and held my head in my hands to subdue my headache (concussion) and had a few ladies from the ride to stop to check if I was ok. After getting my bike up and checking that everything was ok, checked that I wasn’t bleeding too much from the fall, I proceeded to the group who was waiting at the turn off into Granite Road. At this point, I realised that I had a small headache which didn’t go away and my helmet was cracked. I was asked if I wanted to turn around or ride with the group, I chose to ride with the group as I wanted to understand the rest of the course and I was comfortable with the gravel roads. After we started off, this was where the second climb for course was and it was the steepest of the lap. From the fall, I was so tired and really struggled to do this climb. I didn’t have the energy or the strength to ride out of the saddle as much.
After this climb, it was fast rolling hills but we had a break as someone in the group had a flat to fix. We then met up with the turn into the gravel road. I actually love the gravel road and have no hesitation on handling the bike along this part of the course. This only came about with my rides on the Dirty Gran Fondo events. The group then turned off to head back to Little River whilst Nat and I headed back to our cars.
During the week, I managed my headache with Panadol but no ibuprofen (no blood thinning medication with a concussion) and had to manage my whiplash with massage. I bought a new helmet on Monday. On Tuesday, my training session was done at 90% as it was hard to look over my shoulders. It was an “over and under” session but we didn’t realise it and did the entire lap at VO2 and took turns.
I went for a swim on Wednesday to help ease my whiplash and flush out the legs. During Thursday’s Albert Park session, I could only put in 75% of the effort for the session during the full laps. I just felt that I couldn’t hold the 80% power efforts and I was under pacing myself, even more so before the sprint sections of the lap before the pit straight.
For Saturday’s session, I brought out the Liv bike (Valerie) as we were doing some hill work. I wasn’t too sure what the session was about and how much I should be pushing but the coaches all knew that I was planning on racing on Sunday. We did a quick loop around Kew before we headed onto Ivanhoe Blvd and did a few hill repeats of a steep road. We then turned into Studley Park and did a TT. As Nat and I were racing, we were asked to do the TT at 80%. Happy to report that this became my PR for the loop as I didn’t stop at Walmer St.
After the TT, it was hill repeats of Molesworth Street and then Yarravale Road which I didn’t do repeats but waited for the group. To minimise DOMS from the day of hilly cycling, I sat in an ice bath for the first time in over a year.
Race DayRegistration for the race started at 8:30 with the race start at 9:30 which was a decent time to get up to drive to Balliang. I got there just after 8:40 and I had plenty of time for a toilet stop, race number pick up, warm up ride and a re-think of what to wear during the race. I opted out of a gilet and long finger gloves which I had during the warm up as I was sweating and didn’t want to feel too hot during the race. I decided to just wear my kit without gilet, arm warmers and then short fingerless gloves.
The women’s field started around 9:40 (last) and the first lap was controlled. I dropped off the group along the first climb but ended up getting back on at the descent but lost then again during the second climb as I couldn’t do the turn and just stuck at the back. After this, I could see the main group ahead but couldn’t catch up during the steep climb and rolling hills. I ended up riding with a chick called Tracey and we took turns along this section and the gravel before headed back to towards the Hall. Tracey didn’t do the second lap so I was solo for the next 5km or so until the lantern-rouge FCC guide came up behind me with another rider (Heather) who had stopped prior to fix a flat. We were assisted along the headwind and the climbs and Heather and I took turns at the fast parts of the route until we turned onto the gravel road where I was comfortable to ride. They caught up to me at the end of Box Forest Road and then it was the final left turn towards the finish line.
For the last 700m of the route, I just decided to put in 100% of what I had and crossed the finish line with harder gear and out of the saddle. I had finished the course just over 2 hours for a 2 x 25km loop which I was pretty impressed with considering we averaged 22km/h during the recce ride.
|My friend Nat from LOC|
After the race, I packed up my bike into my car and started to realise that my backside glutes were starting to seize and my legs were starting to be really sore and stiff. I had a cup of tea at the Memorial Hall and then drove home. My body was starting to get tighter and tighter during the drive and I decided that I really need to ice my legs again.
Although I didn’t win the race (so far from it), I have a great sense of achievement as this was something which I wanted to do in terms of cycling. I know what my strengths and weaknesses are and will work on the following:
1) Push my comfort level in keeping within the group even when it is climbing
2) I am still considerably weak riding into headwind. I need to work on VO2 and maintaining power. This is similar to this month’s Albert Park laps.
3) My descents are good especially when I am able to see ahead
4) Work on my climbs for both short and steep and long and not-so-steep ones. Take advantage of the training session at Kew for this month.
What’s next? I don’t have another road race in mind and FCC haven’t released which races will include the Novice Women’s field. There is one women's race within the Northern Combine events but I don’t know if I can race it on my 3 race license as I received it under FCC.