Thursday, 7 June 2018

Entry into the world of Road Racing

Despite being in fear and thinking that road racing is not for me, I have actually lined up to two events within the month of May.

The first being more of kermesse-style of event hosted by the Northern Combine series (Brunswick CC) on the 19th May 2018. It was an inaugural event at La Trobe Uni around their campus. Womens C grade (lowest for womens) raced for 45min around a 3km route. Due to the style of the course and the number of corners, climbs and speed humps, it ended up being more of a criterium event rather than a traditional road race.

For my usual routine, I arrived on the course too late for my liking - I was the last one who picked up my race number within Womens C and I rushed for the bathroom as I saw a few girls lining up along to head out.... The anxiety of being late and rush to pick up my race number meant that I forgot to take in any nutrition before the race start time of 10am. I essentially raced on an empty stomach and I felt hungry throughout the event. The group of girls that I saw lining up to ride the course was not the actual race but was a re-con lap which I would have liked to join but was too late.

I found a small group of SKCC women who lined up against the side of the road and I decided to walk myself over and waited with them. The WC group grew bigger closer to the start time and there were a few familiar faces. No one I am close friends with as I don't ride with SKCC nor any of the Northern Combine clubs (Blackburn, Coburg, SKCC etc). I am actually a member of Caulfield Carnegie and I chose them based on their distance from my current address and for the sake of getting a race license.

The first lap of the event was neutral but the speed was noticeably faster than what I would be comfortable with for the whole 45min. I stayed at the back of the group as the main pack were picking spaces to fill with no rolling turns which was what I was expecting for a road race. I couldn't keep up with the main group after 2 laps and ended up riding by myself with a few WC riders around.

One of the stressful factors of this event was that Mens C & D races the same time as we did so there were plenty of groups on the narrow course. Admittedly, I didn't need to slow down but it was just a reaction that I applied on the brakes when the came through and when there were sharp corners.

What I thought was the last lap as we went through withe the mens and I thought they didn't ring the bell because it would confuse them was not actually the last lap at which I placed all energy. When we came through what I thought was the finish straight ended up being the bell-lap which meant that I sprinted to be out the front and was quickly spat out the back by the small group of girls who were drafting me for about 3 laps prior. I ended up being the last of that smaller pack but I do remember passing only one person during that race so I know that I didn't come last.

The only pic of my first Northern Combine race. 
The second race was the Jim Fawcett & Mario Giramondo Handicap race at Kyneton. I ended up choosing to do the short scratch as I am quite new to road racing and they stated that this group will be marshaled and will be working on rolling turns.

I rocked up early enough to register but ended up waiting around for 1.5 hours as WC (short) left 50min after the first group. The rolling turns was not too bad on the flat but I totally lost the group when they were riding up an incline albeit very small...I just didn't have the legs to surge up the hills with the group and got spat out the back with no hope of joining....Alison who was a marshal for the day ended up riding with me. The route distance for the short race was 50km and I ended up turning around at 21km (earlier than the group) under the instruction of Alison. I rode back towards the finish line solo as Alison rolled back to the other girls heading towards me.

Out of the short scratch race, I crossed the line 4th but I turned around early so technically, I would consider that as coming DFL. I wasn't too fazed as I wanted to do this event for the sake of experience as I knew that I would not be placing or gaining points.

Solo ride back to the finish line.....DFL

Things I need to work on are:
- Riding with effort on a climb.
- Holding onto the wheel of the rider in front
- Tempo and holding on to that effort for the race.

What is next on the racing calendar? I will do a few Casey Fields crits hosted by Southern Masters to gain some experience in speed and riding in a group. The next Northern Combine is on the 30th June which is the Alf Walker (Handicap) at Balliang. I know that I don't do well on the climbs of that race but I am confident in the descents and the gravel.

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