Saturday, February 17, 2007
Agent of Destruction
Had an unusually awesome sleep (at least 6 hours, I usually only make time for 4 or less), before cycling to the start just off Haldon Road. Was cool to the point of chilly at 6:30am, but soon it had warmed to setting one on the average oven.
There was also an incredibly strong wind driving us down the road for the first 50km and then ready whallop us across the road on the way back. Was very tough fighting against it for the last 50km, so much so that if there were more than 7 cyclists slipstreaming, the tailenders tended to fall off or risk being smashed to smithereans by oncoming traffic. Some nasty creatures in the vehicles that past us today. When will people get it in their heads that roads are not just for cars?
Average speed: 35km/h
HRA 156 (175 Max)
Energy: 1486 kcal
Time per km: 1:43
The guys got off to a cracking start, in fact we were moving so fast I felt like I was short of at least two more big gears. Very quickly the entire peleton was spread out into a long trickle, and as usual, I helped design a chaser group.
It comprised some fair to middling riders, but then we caught Ettiene and a Lindsay Saker rider. We didn't seem to be making headway (not fast enough anyway) on a flying fiver ahead of, so I pushed myself across. Fortunately with the wind at my back it wasn't as crazy as it otherwise would have been (with 90km to go). Then we reeled in a triathlete on a GT with a bleeding forearm and some more Lindsay Saker's. And then we really got going. We sped up the road and reeled in the leading bunch (which almost never happens).
I miscalculated at this point. I let them get about 30m in front of me, with 1km to go to the turning point. I thought I'd catch them on the turn as a big group usually turns slowly. I did catch them, except we suddenly hit a powerful hit wind and after closing the 10m gap to 5m I couldn't do any more. I couldn't believe that they bwere just ahead of me, but I was maxxed out. So there, at 51km or so, with my heart rate at 166, I took my foot off the gas and they quickly slipped away in the direction of the horison (later I found out they finished 5 minutes ahead of me, in 2:40).
Now I felt quite down, as the runner up bunch was almost invisible behind me, and I was fighting alone against a really nasty punching wind. When the next group assimilated me I felt even more down because a lot of them didn't seem very good calibre riders, bar Phillip (with Lindsay Saker) and a pip squeak from Grey who is always surprisingly strong.
I noticed my heart was bottoming out at 144, and felt gloomy that the hard work and high average speed was now being wiped out by travelling with this mediocre lot.
It turned out quite well though. As I said, the wind was coming slightly from the side, so tailenders were being picked off as they had nowhere to hide from the wind. That was the case with our group, and almost certainly the case with the hard(er)core guys up the road. So we first picked up Ben, and later, the triathlete guy that worked so well with us to reel in the main bunch - on the GT. Ben stayed with us but the triathlete was so wasted when we reached him he couldn't hang on. By the time we hit the N1 (at 90km) I had put in a little attack (on the same piece where I had been finally dropped in the 80km section), then sat up and cruised the next 9km.
I knew exactly how to approach the last km, and felt nerves twanging and somersaulting in my legs and tummy. Quite silly really, but there you have it. Some bright spark was kind enough to do a semi-lead out up the last uphill (over a bridge), and as Phillip drew alongside there was some noise and they looked at each other and then I kicked. The blue golf chaperoning us was soon right in front of me, gave me a little bit of extra help, and when I turned onto the bridge and looked back I had a 100m lead. At the next turn, a very sharp one, it was 200m. Then it was just an easy sprint to the finish line.
Glad I left my bunch behind, but also satisfied that I raced the way I did. Would have wanted to hang with that leading bunch longer, but I think I probably would have gotten wrecked at about 80km by the wind and the pace.
It occured to me afterwards that I basically engineered the chase and assimilation of 7 riders with the main bunch, then fell back and saw them fall apart, and then, once assimilated into a new bunch, basically whittled 12 riders down to about 7, and then left them for dead. Kind've funny.