So, it was time to test the legs in a race and see if all of the winter training is doing any good. Racing teammate, RB1, had made me aware of the crit races happening at Preston Park Crits near Brighton. This got me pretty excited because:
It is flat which is a welcome boon given the weight loss plan is a work in progress
It is a velodrome so my recent experience on the track should help
It was a Category 3 only race so we would be against other riders in the same level. For the non-cyclists who read this blog a Crit race or Criterium is a short, fast race around a circuit usually lasting around an hour. This one was 50 minutes followed by 5 laps.
All I ever needed was a plan
RB1 and I had a pre-game chat. We generally get quite excited about crit and road races and have a (growing) reputation (at least in our own heads) to uphold about being an attacking club. We have also both been working on our sprint over the winter and wanted to test it out. Further feeding in to the planning funnel was the fact that the track is 500m long so it is not impossible to gain a lap on the peloton similar to that seen in the Madison track races.
We settled on the following:
Look to attack early doors to see if we could catch the bunch napping
Try and do it together but if one gets a gap then the other goes to the front of the bunch and generally makes a nuisance of themselves
If it all comes back together then keep out of trouble and well position for the sprint.
The Initial Attack
After 5 minutes, with a couple of attacks reeled back in, I went for it. 15 seconds averaging 1,000w, peaking at 1354w got me away. A further lap at 500w grew a gap of about one third of a lap. 4.5 laps over 3min 20s at 340W kept me there but I struggled to make any further inroads. A brave soldier put in a big effort to bridge the gap and we worked together for a little while but I could already see that the bunch was chasing us down and the writing was on the wall so sat up. I felt bad for the brave soldier for a nano-second or so but knew I need to recover from the effort so I told him I was done.
The Solo Break
I was pleased with the attack. I had given it a good go and stayed away for a while. There was a headwind on the home straight that made it difficult to stay away so all in all is was feeling pleased with myself. Now it was time to pay the price for it!
I don’t currently have access to my Golden Cheetah so can’t report on my W’ Bal but, subjectively, it felt like it took about 20 minutes before I was capable of attacking again. During this time, there were a few surges that were fairly uncomfortable but the overall pace was not all that high so I did feel that I had the opportunity to recharge the anaerobic capacity batteries.
The Second Attack
We were now at about the 30 minute mark and thought it might be time for a little more fun. I spotted RB1 near the front, came along side him and had a chat. It went like this:
Me: “Rory, lets go!”
RB1: “Are you sure?”
And off we went. In retrospect, I find this conversation very funny.
The attack consisted of a 900w surge to get away, a team pursuit changeover on the banking and then 1 lap of RB1 and I working together. The bunch were having none of it this time and we were shut down. Again, immensely enjoyable.
Le Grande Finale
We kept things country for the next 20 minutes of so. Staying near the front and out of trouble. Coming up to the 5 laps to go mark I moved up and told RB1 to let me in ahead of him. Don’t get me wrong, I was minded to win this race but I also had a thought that RB1 might have a chance to make good use of my wheel.
The 5 lap marker went up and the pace picked up to a more respectable level. My HR rose steadily and I averaged 370W for the last 4.5 mins of the race.
We were positioned perfectly. I think I was second wheel coming into the last 2 laps with the dude in front playing cat and mouse trying to get me to take over. I was having none of that. On the last lap the bunch came underneath me, which was a tactical error on my behalf so it was time to go.
Another 1200w effort got me to the front on the back straight, I could then only hold about 600w going round the final bend at this point the bunch came over the top. One dude had a clear lead then RB1 charged past. I then found another 900w to contest the sprint for 4/5/6th.
Post Match Analysis
Race Zone Distribution
This shows that the race could also be described as a bloody good workout with about 25 mins at Z4 power or above.
RB1 and I had a chat while we rode around a few times to cool down. He told me that he reckoned that he “nipped it on the line” but was not sure. The ‘crowd’ seemed to think that he had got it.
I knew I was somewhere around 4th-6th and was happy with this given my exploits during the race.
The video shows that he did indeed nip it on the line with excellent Unhinged behaviour from the bloke that the race was nipped from. Check out his look to the left after the line!
This can be seen in its full glory below:.
Celebrating a little too early there David!
The rider in question is a chap called David Smith. It is not for me to rub salt into David’s wounds but I reckon a few hard lessons were learned that day. To is credit he looked a strong rider. Stronger now, I am sure..
Overall, it was immensely fun. On a personal level I can say that I was really happy with my 5th place with 2 attacks, 1 lead out and a half decent sprint effort. As club level riders, we don’t often get that pleasure from helping a teammate do something really cool and great to see RB1 finish it off so well and in such amusing circumstances.
Can’t wait for the next one.
As ever, thanks for reading. By the time you read this I will be conducting some business in Australia and hardening myself up on the bike out there. Some of the rides on this trip will feature in the next blog.