Saturday, 1 May 2010

Onslow Tarbabies Criterium – May 2010

My local recreational riding group organised a short criterium race for our members in a traffic free, yet to be developed industrial area near Trentham. The stated objective of organising this race was:

to foster better riding skills, better fitness, a chance to try something you'd otherwise be afraid of, but most of all to "flex your muscles" and participate in some friendly rivalry on a quiet road rather than down SH2.

Ride Data:
Distance: 14.14 800 Calories
Time: 23m16s 36.5 km/h
Ride Data: Garmin Connect Player
Location: Trentham, NZ 1 May 2010

For me, just riding without fear those steel cyclist crushing objects known as cars was a huge bonus!


This was my first ride in a criterium style race. I entered the “C” grade race which was set at the same level a those that I typically ride with on Sundays. My work colleague Phil, had been trying to get me to enter the “B” grade race with him. I suspect that this was because he was looking for the satisfaction of beating me head-to-head. With a damp day and limited numbers of participants the “C” & “D” grades were combined as were the “A” & “B”’s.


I had been given advance tips that criterium events can be very tactical and often if you get caught on the front for too long you can use too much energy and get destroyed in the final sprint. With this mind during the race I made sure I wasn’t leading for more than one lap at a time and made sure I was position to follow anyone who thought about making a decisive break. These tactics seemed universal in the “C” grade race with with any gaps the opened quickly sealed to ensure there were no breakaways established. On the couple of laps when I was leading I tried to increase the pace a little to get a feel for where the wind was, which could be critical on the final lap and to see how the riders around me were handling the pace. Ultimately no gaps opened and we increased our average speed and we built to higher speeds each lap around the course.


I was sitting comfortably in 2nd place when the bell went indicating two laps to go and then heading into the final lap assumed the lead. I initially tried a surge as I assumed the lead but the rest of the pack surged with me. I figured with the inside running in the remaining corners, meaning everyone else had to get around me  the biggest risk would be to go for a sprint too early and get run down. I thought the action would most likely occur into the wind on the straight prior to the final corner. I was wrong and Mark found an acceleration with half a lap to go that none of us could match. I possibly dropped as low as 4th as I made maximum use of my ticker into the wind and then down the final straight to take 2nd place with a comfortable margin back to 3rd and nowhere near running down fast finishing Mark. 


I was breathing pretty hard crossing line with my heart pounding. That 221-Age thing maximum heartrate thing is after all just an estimate :D.


The combined “A” and “B” grade race followed a different style altogether. Throughout their race there were various attacks trying to establish breakaways but while breakaways were established, they never actually stuck. By the final lap all the riders were together again with Phil managing a narrow victory in the sprint finish. Thankfully back at work he has contained himself enough to not have reminded us of his result more than 100 times (yet?).


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