Friday, May 25, 2012

QLD Team Series Rnd 3

The 3rd round of the QLD Team Series kicked off with a 15km individual time trial around an undulating loop at Gatton. Every time trial that I have ever done has hurt like hell but for some reason, I’m always overly confident and optimistic before the start of the next one. A lengthy warm up means the legs feel good and I can’t help but anticipate a fast time. I forget the last time trial that I did and how much it hurt to somehow convince myself that I am going to absolutely smash this one.



30sec into the time trial and all optimism goes out of the window. I remember why I don’t like them as I struggle for oxygen on a usually ill-fitting time trial bike that I haven’t ridden enough to be comfortable on. This time trial was no different. I crossed the line with a dry mouth and burning legs, hoping that I beat Tim’s time because I told him I would in a moment of blind confidence before the start.

I finished in 22nd place. A full 30 seconds behind Tim. At this point, I start to think about where I lost time... 5 seconds when I stuffed around with my water bottle. 5 seconds when I braked for that corner. 5 seconds when I free wheeled down the hill. 5 seconds when I didn’t change gears going up the hill. Etc etc etc. Why didn’t I just pedal harder??? Oh that’s right, cause I was in a world of pain! Thank goodness for hindsight.


Stage 2 was on the same course as the road race, taking in 7 laps of the 15km loop. As it was the first relatively flat stage in the QTS, all of the sprinters were hopeful and keen for their chance to shine. A bunch sprint was inevitable, so the plan was to conserve energy and finish as high as possible.


The race went by relatively uneventfully, with break aways barely getting 20m up the road before they are reeled back in. At the end of the 4th lap, we began the descent into the finish when my front tyre exploded. We were on the fastest section of the course and strung out in single file. With the team car in the final position in the convoy, I had to wait for what felt like an eternity for a spare wheel. I pulled over, and out of pure habit, I pulled the rear wheel out of my bike, usually the tyre that suffers a puncture. I realised that I had it wrong and put it back in, hoping that the tv camera that was filming me didn’t pick up on my error. I took out the front wheel as Bruce handed me a spare before starting my chase in the hardest possible gear that I had.

Bruce made his way to the car and then back in front of me to draft me back onto the bunch. ¾ of a lap later, I managed to just make my way back through the convoy and onto the tail of the peleton. I was relieved because due to my efforts, my right hamstring was threatening to cramp at any moment. Waiting at the back of the bunch was Matt and Andy who were quick to say, ‘right, lets get you back up the front’. Aware of my hamstring’s situation, I took some time to recover and refuel myself.


I made my way to the front of the race, just in time to see a small group of 5 riders slowly roll off ahead of the bunch. No one seemed intent on chasing and as we were halfway around the final lap, they had a gap of about 150m. With 4km to go, I pounced of the front of the bunch, only to be met by an angry hamstring. I was swallowed up and did my best to avoid the usual final km carnage to cross the line in the middle of the field. Fortunately, Matt & Brad were far better positioned and finished in 12th and 15th positions respectively.


The following day, we returned to Gatton for the far more hilly stage 3. We had 5 laps of a 21km circuit that took in a short but painful climb. After a few undulations, we were met with a 200m climb to the KOM but for some reason, it felt like the longest 200m of my life. After 3 laps, I was pretty sure that I was not going to make it over the final two KOM’s in the bunch. My hamstring was still a little upset at me for the previous day’s effort and was getting angrier with every lap.Matt was fighting gravity each lap which left Brad, Andy and myself to search for points in the top 30 positions.


Lap 4 went over the KOM in a, thankfully, subdued manner which meant that I only had to hang on for one more lap. As we headed into the climb for the final time, I made my way to the front to give me maximum ‘backward drift’ distance as we went up. I was managing fine until 50m from the top when a touch of wheels saw two riders hit the bitumen in front of me. I braked and swerved to get around it and leave myself with a small gap to close. I made it back across and fought my way forward again. The sprint for the finish was slightly uphill, which made it look almost slow motion as everyone gave it their all. I crossed the line hopeful that I had made it inside the top 30 where points could be maximised, only to be disappointed to discover that I had finished in 32nd place.

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