Today was a very special race for the Port Adelaide Cycling Club - a criterium to celebrate the club's 125th anniversary!
PACC members were out in force, and I don't think I have ever seen such a huge gathering of black and white jerseys before. A lot of new members who I didn't recognise! We all got together at the end for a photo, which should appear on the PACC forums in due time.
The crit was at the Wingfield industrial park circuit: around a kilometre long, a rectangle with sweeping corners that you can pedal all the way through most of the time. A stark contrast to the last couple of races I've done, which have been very technical circuits.
We rocked up just as the juniors racing was starting, and all PACC members were given our very own 125th birthday commemorative bottle opener - sweet!! The entry fee for the race was a gold coin donation, which was also fantastic. It was sort of self handicapped, and I put myself into B-grade as that was where everyone else was that I usually race against. Our race was to be 40 minutes, plus two laps.
I've always enjoyed racing at Wingfield, and have even won a couple of club races there before. Both of the previous times I've won, I've left it until about five minutes to go to make my move. Initially, I thought I might try the same thing, but something also was in my head -- a while ago Pete at BMCR told me that if you attack from the gun, often people don't think you are serious and do not try to chase you down until its too late. I have tried this occasionally in the past, but have not committed to it or have been chased down pretty quickly.
Well I've been feeling pretty good lately, so I decided to attack at the start of the race, commit to it as much as possible, and see what happened.
There were about 15 or so of us lined up for B-grade, mostly familiar faces. A couple of members of the Korean National women's track team were racing with us, they've been in Adelaide for the past few weeks and have been regulars at many races.
I clipped in as quick as I could at the start and took off -- the first lap went pretty quick as I was trying to get a gap. No one chased me initially - excellent! I pushed it pretty hard and soon 5 minutes had gone by, I was quite surprised that I hadn't been caught, and then I thought to myself "what the heck am I doing out here?"
There wasn't any other option, except to put my head down and go for it!!
We were on the course at the same time as A-grade, and they conveniently managed to wedge themselves between the chasing B-grade group and myself for a little while. It always helps if the chasing group can't see you!
After a while, 20 minutes came up on the clock and I was really starting to wonder if I had chance. The chasing group was still within sight on the longer straights, I could usually see them just entering the straight as I was exiting it. On I went...
A note on pacing: Two of the straights were into the wind, and the other two straights had a tail wind. In these situations, theoretically, it is always worth putting in more effort into the wind, and putting out slightly less effort for the downwind sections. Essentially you get more 'bang for your buck' for energy spent riding into the wind. I was clicking up one or two gears for the downwind straights, but was putting out about 50W less.
The suffering really began at about 35 minutes in, I was waiting desperately for the bell to be rung. I was passed at this point by A-grade again, who had split up into several small groups.
Finally I got the bell, and really stomped it for the last lap! As I crossed the finish line I got a bit carried away and gave a big victory salute - but what the hell.... I don't win races very often, especially not with a solo 40-minute breakaway!! Probably the last time I'll get away with that for... I dunno.... my entire life!
Your initial thought might be "yeah sure Daniel, you were just sandbagging a lower grade!". A couple of things in my defense: most of the other riders in B-grade were all people I would usually race against in C-grade open crits. Everyone in A-grade today were B or A-grade open riders, so I definitely would've been stepping it up to race against them. Additionally, there were at least one or two other riders in B-grade today who probably could've done what I did today -- I train with them and they regularly make me hurt! I'm fairly sure that if the pack had rolled some hard turns they would've pulled me in. Maybe they were just being nice to me!
The morning concluded with a group photo, followed by a rather impressive looking birthday cake (if only it were vegan it would've been even more impressive!).
Finally, in particular: well done to Sam and Pete for 2nd and 3rd in B-grade, and to Barn Dogg for 2nd place in A-grade against some tough opposition! Nice work gents.