SERRL Lamberhurst/Frant 09 May 2010

Another weekend, another race.  After a solid performance last weekend it was back to earth with a bump with another humiliating outing at Crystal Palace on Tuesday.  I’ve been feeling jaded all week; probably a combination of strict diet, life pressures and a modicum of overtraining.  If every time I stand up I see stars and feel faint and I’m struggling to navigate the stairs in my house maybe it’s time to re-assess my strategy…

On the plus side I’d spent a full two days off the bike and, as the weather looked just about OK, I decided to run the Parlee with new Zipp wheels.  Alas the Blackberry camera doesn’t do it justice.

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At least the weekend races always start on a high; picking up ReubenE with guaranteed county-level banter.  We arrived absurdly early and, to avoid the risk that anyone would think we were bummers, we thought we’d do a recce of the course.  After two attempts we gave up being no wiser and merely made us worried about how hilly the course would be.

I also met KevX, a Bigfoot rider and triathlete that I’ve not previously met.  The village hall was only 3* this week compared to last 5* emporium, but more than adequate nonetheless.  The course is 5 laps of of just over 20km with about 1600m of climbing in total; nothing really severe but challenging rolling terrain.

I can’t remember much about the early part of the race.  I felt comfortable enough with the pace; sufficiently so that I managed to be enticed into an early break attempt and did some nice long pulls off the front.  My usual strategy is to a) wear myself out giving me a slim chance of a decent overall result and, much more importantly b) giving me the perfect excuse for not getting a decent overall result.  Today was no exception.

ReubenE confirmed that he had not recovered from his mid-week illness and KevX had a puncture so both were out within 2 laps.

I spent the rest of the race yo-yo’ing backwards and forwards in the group.  With 25km to go I was feeling weary and had mentally consigned myself to a mediocre result as I couldn’t imagine having much left at the end for the bunch sprint and certainly didn’t feel like I had the energy to attempt a break.  The hills were starting to hurt and I was wishing that I was a bit closer to my ‘Marmotte weight’.

On the hill that led up to the start/finish line KevG from Avanti launched another big attack off the front with one lap to go.  It was all I could do to hang on to the chasing group.  Monster effort.  I just don’t have anything like that sort of explosivity and it’s impressive and depressing to watch in equal measure.

One  lap to go and the chase was on.  With about 10km to go the chasing group, including me, caught KevG and the chap that had managed to go with him on a hill.  I can’t remember exactly what happened as I was exhausted but I ended up in a two-man break with about 10km to go.  No big attack but I just kept pushing on the hill. 

In a straight fight between 2 riders and the group; the 2 should lose.  The other guy in the break was strong and we worked really well together in the end.  Being in a break is tough; every fibre in your being is telling you to stop but you kid yourself into thinking that you might defy the odds and make it. 

My heart rate averaged 176bpm for the last 20 minutes which is over 95% of my max.

We finally made it to the foot of the last climb.  The other chap in the break had the edge over me and opened up a 20 metre gap, maybe more.   I was only praying that I could hold off the bunch; a few furtive checks behind me gave me some confidence it was going to be OK.

I crossed the line delighted.  Second place in my second road race and a ballsy performance I’d like to think.

I have earned enough points in two road races to qualify for my 3rd Cat license.  Which is just as well as my thoughts now turn to training for the Marmotte.

Match stats 103km, 1600m climbing, 2hrs52 race time, NP 306W, peak 20 minutes NP 357W.

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