Tuesday, October 27, 2009
What a cool challenge to race in won of the oldest bike races in the World and one that is super long. I made it to the end and placed 41st out of the 200 starters. A few novice errors and a lack of understanding for how these races are ridden. All went really well with feed stations with my wife and friends doing a great job with getting the feed bags to me. What's come out of it for me is that it requires strength, endurance, teamwork and smarts. The change in speeds at time was extraordinary and when I finally thought I should get in the mix I found I suffered a fair bit. The main break had taken off during the first 30km and to be honest I had no idea how most of the riders were who were launching off the front. I also had no idea how many had made the break and was shocked to here they were 13 - 14 min up the road after the first feed station. This occurred when I was in another break and we had 1min 30sec on the main bunch and to get across to this break I found it a challenge. The conditioning to attack and then attack again was not my strength. In fact I sat off the back of this break feeling guilty for some time recovering before I put in any turns. The was around the 140km mark and I thought boy I am struggling here. Some of the guys just seem to be doing it easy and I can fully appreciate that efficiency is key and something I need to learn. The climbs though Camperdown were another challenge with my intent being to make sure I was up front to get over them with any group on the move. A small group of 6-10 rides formed and I was just off the back of them and fought to get back on but was unsuccessful. That was the disappointing part for me. It was the opportunity and I didn't make it stick. The early break I wasn't even aware of who and who they were going to make it count for the day. This break end up being the second group across the finish and I was with it until the final section of climbing. Working hard descending was cool but they had 50m when we started the next climb and at the top they surged away. Caught between them and the bunch behind I finally conceded. After rejoining the effort was certainly go and as such small groups of three and four guys did turns for the remained of the race. I must admit the last 30km was about cruising to Warrnambool. I had heard lots about the last 3km hill and the sprint but felt little point doing anything apart from rolling along with this group which once we crossed I found out was the fourth group on the road. All up it was a great experience. I learned that I need to know more of the other riders to be able to pick when a dangerous move is made. I also have to develop the capacity to attack repeatedly and then be able to still drive after these efforts. This I think is the conditioning that would come with more racing with better riders. Being smarter about when to work and when to rest is key and something that I stuffed up a few times. Even getting caught after a piss stop and working way to hard until I realised that the group coming up from behind after all had done the same stop. I had been working to get back on the bunch and wasting energy. Once I saw the large group trailing behind a vehicle I thought you idiot. So lots of learning and I certainly can see how to improve in races like this one. For now I am on my way preparing for Oceania Champs for the time trial and then a few other opportunities through to Feb next year. Got to say I love being involved in something which I am a green learner. It makes it all very intense and is energising.