Before it get away from me, I have a couple of quick thoughts to get down about my 3rd race for the year last Saturday 19th May.
It did start off with a quick laugh. When I went to register, club stalwart Esme took my licence and said, "Two weeks in a row! This could become a habit if your not careful, you'll become addicted...!!"
"That's the plan!" I replied with a grin. I handed over my $10, and was given the same number as the previous week - I was hoping that would be a good omen.
Now, the race did go well. I won't go into too much detail about it here, as I want to focus on how it ended. It was much tougher than the previous week, with an average speed of 39.9km/h for the 43 min or so duration. Faster than last week, but that's not what made it harder so much - it was because this time around there were a lot more slow-downs and accelerations that sapped the legs.
Now, to the interesting part for me, where I was reminded of an important lesson - positioning is everything...
At roughly the 35min mark, a guy in front of me had to brakechard for some reason. I hit my brakes, and of course drifted backwards quickly to the rear of the field of about 40 riders. No need to panic, I thought, I'll wait until the pace eases off a little then try and move up again.
I cruised around along the back of the field, not feeling particularly concerned. But then, earlier than I expected, the "3 laps to go" sign went up.
It was light a fire was lit at the front of the peloton. The pace flew up to around 45km/h (sometimes higher), and I found myself hammering along just trying to hold on to the wheel in front of me.
The pace didn't ease at all until less than half a lap to go, so I spent those three laps spending all my energy smashing myself to stay on. To make it even harder, people kept getting shelled in front of me, so I'd have to come around them and bridge up each time.
When the pace eased briefly near the finish, I had nothing left to try and make a move - I just held my position and cruised over the finish line with the peloton.
So why was this such an important race for me?
Firstly, the big lesson in positioning. I shouldn't have been so complacent and content to cruise at the rear of the peloton and wait for a slow-down, especially so late in the race. That complacency cost me any opportunity to get myself in a winning position at thee finish, even though it happened 10 minutes beforehand!
Secondly, I had to ride hard for the final 3 laps of the race. I hammered for those final laps, bridging up a few times to come around those that cracked, and my legs handled it really well. Don't get me wrong, I was working ridiculously hard - but at no point did I think "that's it, I'm going to crack next...".
It was a great, hard race leading into the big road race this weekend out at Mt Alford. Let's hope I don't need to re-learn the same lesson!!