This year has been a year of change for me. Firstly I have moved up an age category from Masters 2 to Masters 3. This means that I am now not one of the oldest but one of the youngest riders in our category. But, as I've found out that doesn't change the fact that I still have the grayest hair.
|Me wearing the new CMC kit - note the grey locks, that's how my kids recognise me on the bike.|
Secondly I changed clubs, moving from Geelong Cycling Club to the Footscray Cycling Club. Footscray being a Metropolitan club means that I could no longer ride the Country Titles. I’ll be honest in saying that I was a little sad in not racing the Country’s, I first raced them in 1990 (I think) when they were held in Natimuk, Victoria, Australia. For those that know the area we did a time trial up Mt Arapiles, which is an absolute mecca for rock climbing. That year as a junior we all got well and truly destroyed by a rider by the name of Jamie Drew, he went on to win a few other races as well!
…so after more years of racing the Country’s that I care to even try to remember I was off to race the Metros.
I liked the Metro’s, they had a very different feel to them then the County’s did. Racing was faster, harder and a lot more aggressive. One thing that took me by surprise (probably due to my naivety) was the amount of team riding that I would experience , it’s something I’m just not used to and will need to have a think about how to use it to my advantage. By the way, Teams racing is not allowed but seems to be tolerated.
One thing I like about masters racing is that the distances are just that little bit shorter than the Elite categories which does make these categories accessible to more riders. On the flip side, many riders step down from the Elite’s to race masters as well and of course this means that you inherit some amazingly strong riders who have been training and racing with the elites all year and bring that fitness and race savvy with them.
My race was OK, not great but solid enough for this time of year.
|The sun was out but it was cold...|
The course was made up of two lumpy 12km loops followed by a 56km undulating loop that had a nice little climb 15km from home. The first lap saw me, last year’s winner and a third rider ride off the front of the peloton for the better part of the lap. Our break was pretty much doomed as it didn't contain any members from the “non-obvious” teams, this meant that a “non-obvious” team chase was instigated and we were hauled in after around 10k out the front when our margin over the peloton began to look dangerous.
Soon after being caught the counter attack went, this was the move I should have been in as it contained members from the “non-obvious” teams. Four riders were away and the peloton gave them a little bit of distance and that was pretty much our downfall. From this point on the “non-obvious” teams shutdown the bunch through “non-obvious” blocking and “non-obvious” disruption of the chase effort. We did pick up two of the four riders who had fallen off the pace, but two riders from the “not-obvious” teams remained away and would race for the victory between them.
I have to admit I got a little frustrated and I didn’t ride all that smart. I spent way too much time on the front of the bunch than what I would have liked to have and burnt more matches than I should have. Anyway, that’s experience that I’ll tuck that away and recall it for another day.
The climb 15km from home was really where I had wanted to have a good crack maybe get a gap and then try to bridge across to the leaders. I would have liked to have hit that climb as hard as I know I could but my legs were toast and I decided to just ride it tempo then recoup for a late attack. I was just thankful that the remainder of the peloton at this point were content to ride it tempo.
Plans are great but the plan for a late attack was pretty obvious and actually the same plan that the “non-obvious” team riders also had. Fresh legs began to continually hit us hard in the last 5km. Thankfully the final kilometers were slightly downhill and there was no way I was going to let these riders get away. I was able to respond to each attack well enough but wasn't really left in a position to have a dig myself as I was fast running out of time with the finish fast approaching – hmm, better get my head into bunch sprint mode!
The sprint opened up a little earlier than I had expected and I was left caught out of position and going backwards (pretty much like any other sprint I’m involved with). I dived down the right side of the road and was able to get on the inside of most riders as the road bent around slightly to the right, I then began the concerted push to the line.
4th place in the bunch sprint.
I’m no Mark Cavendish and the three riders who beat me across the line were all “non-obvious” team riders with what I gauged as relatively fresh legs – oh and of course there is no denying that they are also clearly better sprinters than me.
Two riders away, 4th in the bunch sprint and 6th overall, I was pretty happy with that.
Next up for me is the Fred Icke Memorial at Creswick, Victoria Australia. I raced this race for the first time last year after never wanting to previous ride it and the weather was fantastic, I can only hope it will be the same again this year. My brother has raced the Fred Icke a few times in the past where the weather on the day included sleet, rain and hail. One year he ended up wrapped up in a space blanket being treated for hypothermia…. But I’m looking forward to this one regardless of what the weather throws at me!