This is the third race of the season, and I am happy to report that the legs are getting better and better.
Today we went out to Aka Aka, 1.5 hr away from Auckland to race the cycling club road race. We is for my mate Gordo and me. Gordon was doing his first one so the whole trip was about answering his questions about how the race may unfold. We're doing the Tour of Taranaki together, so is good to have him on board doing some serious racing.
From my previous experiences I knew that I have to have my nutrition and water sorted OK if I wanted to have a chance. The race calendar said 72km but I thought the race may be shortened to 52 for the grade I race in. It wasn't, so first thing I did was to get a Moro bar just before the race started.
The C grade was a big bunch of about 50 riders at the start. There wasn't a lot of time to play around as the pace was up on the first lap, and as usual I sat in the middle to check who was doing what and try to do a bit of recconnaisance of the course as I didn't remember much from last time. I was happy to learn that it was mostly a flat course with a 600m straight as a finish. By the end of the first lap I was tired OK and had drank little water from my bottle so I took a big sip.
The second lap was on a much amicable pace for the first half, not many were willing to work up front and it suited me to just stay in touch but way back in the bunch. Some guys took over after halfway and they drove a bit faster, only to turn the wrong ways, so there was little damage done. Someone may have had a crash or taken the wrong turn later on because towards the end of the second lap the buch was half the size.
I had half a gel and more water and started working to move up in the bunch, the legs were a bit mor tired, but when the gel kicked in, they responded and I was able to respond to the upping of the pace that usually happens on the last lap.
I stayed on the 4th or 5th wheel for most of the time and did a bit at the front on the final 8 km, as we got closer to the finish a lot of argy bargy started to secure good placing for the sprints. As I am doing this races as part of my training I usually don't risk a lot and try to stay inside and not to cross the centerline. Today's approach was to go fast and stay with the first five guys, and I did that until we turned into the final straight.
200m in and the roaring of the wheels started to get louder, then someone shouted and a 30 bikes sprint started, taking all of the road.
But that didn't last long as a car approached on the other lane, so we all started to crunch in, an elbou here, a near miss there, and I went with 80% of my strength to finish in the top 10 on the sprint. I was boxed and couldnt develop any more speed safely.
All in all it was a happy day, as I felt in control all the time and didn't do any silly mistakes as the previous race. My mate Gordon learned had a bit more difficult race in his grade and ended up on a solo sprint, being passed by a slower bunch in the final 5km, but I think he learned the lesson.