I've never been a 'good' racing cyclist in terms of results. At club level I race in C-grade, and at Open level I'm in Masters C. In criteriums I can normally hold on, but long road races I find really tough. I've never been able to finish a road race with the peloton, always dropping off well before the finish.
In terms of results, I have had two podiums in 6+ years of racing. A club D-grade 2nd place, and a club C-grade 3rd place. Not a great return for that long!!
That said - I don't race because I'm good at it (obviously!). I race because its incredible fun, and I love it!! Its a great challenge, and even if I'm destined to never win a race, that's fine by me.
So - which races am I targeting for 2012?
There are two Open races that I'd consider to be my "A races" for the year. I'll be training hard with the aim of peaking for each one.
Firstly will be the "Anzac 25" on Wednesday 25th April (Anzac Day) - a kermesse around the 2.4km Lakeside motor-racing circuit at Kurwongbah. This event is run by the HPRW club, and was the very first Open race I ever contested.
The last time I competed in the Anzac 25 (back in 2010), I managed to finish with the peloton for the first time. It was a huge achievement for me! Its a very well-run event, and the circuit itself has been recently resurfaced and improved. The mix of long flat straights and hilly back sections make it a real test of form and fitness, which is why I love it so much - you can't hide in the peloton like you can on flatter circuits.
My second season goal will be the "Avanti Classic" 80km Handicap event on Sunday 24th June. Run by the Lifecycle club, it's held over a 40km road circuit at Lowood, crossing the Wivenhoe Dam wall on each circuit.
This race is incredibly tough. It is exposed to strong winds, the roads are dead, and it has enough hills to destroy your legs. Plus the handicap format adds its own challenges!! Typically it has 200+ entrants, making for some exciting racing.
This race always destroys me - but I love it! It challenges me on every level as a cyclist, and the two times I've raced (2009 & 2010) I have learnt a lot about myself and about racing. If my training and progression goes well this year, I'm looking forward to seeing if I can improve my results from previous years.
They are my two chief targets for the year. However, there are a few others I'll be aiming to enter. These are some hard, testing races that I'll be using as 'form-testers' to see how I am travelling. And of course, they'll just be fun to race in as well.
These races are:
- Mt Cotton Kermesse, Sunday 18th March. A very difficult race around the hilly Mt Cotton driver training centre. I entered this in 2010, and was dropped by the peloton on the 3rd lap - and then lapped a further three times... How embarrassing!!
- Metropolitan Championships road race, Sunday 27th May at Mt Alford. Another hilly road race, thsi one run by my home club. I've never raced it, and am looking forward to giving it a try.
- Ipswich Open, weekend of 29-30 September. This race comprises an ITT and a road race, around a very tough and hilly circuit near Mt Marrow. This will be my first time at this race as well.
You'll notice I've picked a bunch of hilly races to target. Given that I am terrible at hills, and am probably best at flat sprints, this doesn't make much logical sense! However, I love this style of racing - I think its very 'honest' in that you have to be fit enough and strong enough to survive.. You definitely can't fake your way through it!!
I may race a few others as well - the full Cycling Qld racing calendar has heaps of opportunities for tough Open racing this year.
With good, consistent training, and a bit of luck with injuries & illness, I can't wait to see how well I go in the 2012 racing season...!!