The weather prognosis did not make for pleasant reading. There was a low pressure cell in the area, and the wind and rain in Brisbane weren't inspiring any confidence. I'd had the flue all week, and knew racing this weekend was not a good idea. Fortunately I'd only signed up for the 50km.
I felt like I was nearly over my cold, so race strategy was to go out hard and "test myself". Just maybe ... a full week without any training would lend itself to a good taper.
In theory the above sounded good. After all it would only be a 2 hour ride. Practically a sprint! Yeah right. I'd convinced my head, but I'd neglected to run this plan past my legs. They didn't want any part of this deal. The first minor hill we encountered, I came to appreciate today would be a survival race. Let's see how long I can hang in there with the lead group. I'm still learning things from the elite riders in every race I do. Today would be a learning experience.
Today my legs had nothing. I was in a group of 5, and there were two individual riders ahead of us. We worked well as a group, regularly rotating leads and coaching each other for our mutual benefit. Slowly we reined in 2nd place. At the point where the short course met the long course, we also timed to perfection to meet the leaders of the long course. These guys were blasting down a steep hill. The 5 of us rode flat stick and jumped on their tails. Now it was impossible to tell who was in what race.
Heading up the wall, a sustained 8km climb, my legs demonstrated what a week without any conditioning can do. Half way up the bunch dropped me, but I kept going at a speed I knew I could manage for today. I caught and passed some, but some others also caught and passed me. The remainder of the race was a struggle with three more very good (steep and sustained) off-road pinch climbs.
For hills I knew I should be cruising, today was a struggle. Oh well, I'm not about to throw in the towel. I was pleased just to hold things together. Since two races combined onto the same course, we all lost touch with placings in our own races. In the end I managed 3rd in age group, and 5th overall. I'm pleased with that for today.
The course included some tough climbs; 1230m ascent in 47.5km, but lacked any single-track. In my eyes it was not a terrific course, and not one I'll be rushing back to. Everyone was grateful the bad weather held out. Those dark clouds loomed all day.
My mate Hank is below on the right. Hank's just bought himself a brand new swish full carbon Epic S-Works. I'll be expecting big things out of Hank in the upcoming Insomnia event:)