Monday, 16 December 2013

WCMCC Kewdale Criterium - A Grade :: 15th December, 2013

Well yesterday was certainly one of those not so welcome introductions to racing in Perth's summer heat with on-road temperatures in excess of 40 degrees Celsius. Anyone who raced yesterday, either at Kewdale (WCMCC) or Technology Park (RCCC Summer Crit Series), would've been feeling the heat directly from the Sun and radiating from the road. I think the best thing to do was to keep well hydrated and just keep moving to generate enough air movement past the body to help cool you down. For me, my frustration with this summer's crit series continues with yet another chance gone begging and I only have myself to blame for it.

It would be fair to say that just about everyone racing at the WCMCC Kewdale criterium would have arrived hoping to be off first to avoid the hotter temperatures of the later morning. Unfortunately it would be A grade and C grade of second last and last respectively meaning pre-race hydration would be vital.

We (Unicorn-Specialized) managed to field four riders for the race in Pat, Singo, Chris and myself which seemed to be the going number for other teams including EHBS, Arbitrage and KHT. I felt that this would offer a fair chance to get amongst a sprint finish and after a brief discussion with Chris as to how we should approach proceedings, we were let loose and the fun and games began almost immediately with a number of riders looking to see if the group were keen to respond to early attacks.

This picked the pace up to over 40km/h and that's pretty much were it stayed for the remainder of the race for just over 42km/h average. I wasn't sure of how the legs would respond to the early attacks but these seemed to be covered by numerous riders including Chris, Pat and Singo doing their bit to keep things under control as best they could.

There were a number of attacks through numerous laps that garnered a few numbers which suggested that they might succeed and encouraged me to go with attempts by other riders to get over to the lead groups before they got away too far but the gaps would always end up being closed by the main field fairly quickly.

Gary Wright jumped with a strong attack as we moved down the back of the course which sparked only one or two others to attempt to go with him. This was the move that seemed to begin to break up the main field. I wasn't sure when it happened but at some stage Gary was pulled back to the main group but there were others that sensed Gary's ability to win criteriums in such a manner and attempts to bridge over to the leaders would come in small groups of two or three, among them was Singo and Chris (unbeknown to me - I thought Chris was still with Pat and I) who had both been riding well for the first 20 minutes of the race so Pat and I were happy to have them up the road.

With about half the time elapsed and the lead group split in what appeared to be two groups (hard to tell from the main field), Singo ended up getting caught up with another rider that forced him to the kerb on the right hand side of the road at the back of the course. Those who had previously ridden Kewdale this summer knew that there was a significant pot hole in the side of the road but unfortunately, being his first time here, Chris was completely unaware and managed to clip the edge of the bitumen with both wheels sending him hurtling into the sand on the side of the road. Thankfully, this provided a somewhat softer landing but was enough to put him out of the race with both wheels punctured.

As I had not noticed that Chris was in the same group as Singo, I figured we no longer had anyone up the road and when someone made a jump in an effort to cross the gap, I went with him to see if I could make it across to the leaders. This dragged one or two others as well and I was keen not to do too much work in this effort. Before long I noticed Chris was in the group ahead and with Pat not in this small group of riders, I wasn't sure if I should help with the chase down so I backed out to last rider in the small group and eventually we were caught by the main field.

The group ahead of us containing Chris was still within sight and I was now beginning to think that it would probably have been better to have provided Chris with some support and help boost our presence in that group. There were 10 or 11 riders away but not all together so having more than one Unicorn rider up amongst it would probably have been more appropriate. Thankfully, with about 10 minutes left before the two laps to go, Keith Winch and Martin Depiazzi decided to make a go of getting over to the group ahead of us and I immediately jumped with them.

The move worked and we managed to put a gap on what seemed to be a pretty tired bunch and we continued to grow the gap over the remaining laps as the three of us worked together in an effort to try and get across to the next group and to keep the main field at bay. With only a few laps to go before we would receive two to go, we dropped Martin and it was just the two of us remaining but I glimpsed a rider between the two of us and the main group and initially suspected that this was Martin putting in another effort to get back to us but in the end it was Pat who had gone off the front of the main field on his own to get across to us.

Pat still had some significant strength left and kept us working pretty hard over the next two laps to keep the main field well away and into the bell lap. Pat and I both stepped up the power along the back end of the course in an effort to shake Keith loose and eventually we dropped him allowing Pat and I to finish together in 12th and 11th place respectively. Chris had already crossed the line in 10th place in a lead group of ten riders that had disintegrated somewhat with only four riders legitimately going for the sprint finish. Scott Sanders was again able to take the line honours with Doug Stewart crossing for second ahead of Hilton McMurdo and Sam Smith.

I still have a sense of frustration that I am not getting myself in a position to go with the winning breaks when they occur, either due to having done too much work initially, not being in a condition to go with early winning breaks or just being out of position when the winning break occurs. My fitness and strength are there for the most part but it sometimes take a little too long to catch my "second wind" where I feel I can better cope with the stronger attacks that ultimately stay away. I guess this is something I really need to work on so that I can better handle these situations.

This was the last race of the WCMCC 2013 calendar with the next race not until January 5th in Rockingham. We will look to ride as a team in next week's Team's Criterium at Technology Park but will not be in the running for any overall series honours as the first of these events was also completed this weekend. Hopefully a ride in open B grade might offer a good solid hit out and hopefully a little more success than my recent races.

Thanks for reading.

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