Monday, March 03, 2008

Cycleways Cup - First Race of the Season

Sunday saw me take part in my first race of the 2008 season - The Cycleways Cup - which was also my first as an S1 (I was an S2 last year). It was a 123km road race held around Navan. The course was basically an out, then three laps of a 39km loop and then back to a different finishing location. Unfortunately, there wasn't much climbing involved (about 900m in total over the whole race) but there was a constant wind to keep the difficulty up. Last year I rode the race with a 12-25 on the back (the only cassette I had), on Saturday, I thankfully picked up an 11-23 as I spun it out a few times too...

A map of the course

The profile for the day (and speed)

Anyway, I rolled off at the start a little apprehensive as it had been a while since I rode in such a large group (about 100 riders) but after a few minutes it felt like normal again. There was no serious cornering etc... so most of the riding was pretty simple. As I had taken part in a race on this course last year, I knew that the attacks would start from the first 'climb' about 5km into the race. I stayed around the front for that trying not to make my mistake from last year and not make the winning break (last year, a break of about 15-20 stayed away for the complete race). I rode around the front and bridged up a few times but wasn't really doing anything except giving myself a good workout. No large groups got away so I ended up moving back and resting in the peleton for much of the next hour or so. With about an hour to go a group of about 12 got off the front, which I missed but a while later I decided that it really was now or never for bridging up to the group. The distance looked to be about 40 seconds so I gave it everything.

Power/HR when I bridged - I love my PowerTap

It took about 4-5 minutes to bridge across but luckily about 2.5 minutes in another rider (who looked a lot more suited to flat racing then me) joined me and we worked together to bridge up – by the time we made it, I was about to be sick. I was so happy to see him, it really really helped and I don't think I would have made it otherwise. As I got to the lead group, the next few minutes was about recovering. After that, we worked a bit of a paceline to make sure the chasing group didn't get us but no one really wanted to pull. A few tried to get away a couple of times (and I followed) but the group would just chase us down. Tactically, in hindsight I rode the final 20 minutes pretty poorly – I felt strong and repeatedly attacked off the front (as was other people) but I could not seem to get away. Eventually, 4 actually did make in and then another 2 but I didn't make that cut and ended up rolling in with the rest of the lead group a little back. (I must have tried to go about 15 times – talk about interval training!)

The race was pretty good fun – the start was great and the end was exciting (the feeling of, hey wait, I might just be able to win this thing...). The middle dragged a bit – but at least I got some rest.

The purpose of the race for me was to get some racing into my legs before the K-Capital series starts next week – in that regard, the weekend was a success... My normalized power for the final 50 minutes was 350... a new record for having already ridden over two hours at a hard pace. No new power records from the rest of the race for me... Road racing is just so surgey. Some pictures from the race can be found here.

In other news, a ton of new equipment has been arriving – bikes, wheels etc... More on that later.

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