I decided a few weeks back to have a go at returning to racing for the Odd Spoke Cup. I wasn’t sure if I was physically or mentally ready to return to racing, but I knew I had to set a date otherwise I would just continue to put it off.
Before racing I knew I had to get in at least one good chop off group ride. These are great for getting some of that race pace in the legs, and getting my head back in the game. As good as specific efforts are, riders need a bit of race pace work. So I got out Thursday morning for the LACC group ride at Sydney Olympic Park. This is the perfect ride for what I wanted - fast rolling pacelines. There are usually around 6 groups, so there’s a group for everyone.
That morning, I was going to have a go at group 3 (Usually about C grade pace). Due to Sydney doing its best English impression and never stopping raining it was a small group of only 7 riders. This made it a nice hard ride. I managed to get around and was quite happy with myself about that, which told me I should be OK to race on the weekend.
You can see the ride above with the interval for the chop in the middle of it. The chop came out just under a 40min effort with 240AP (Average Power) and 280NP (Normalised Power). With me at just over 80 kg, it had me confident I could get away with Div 4 at the Odd Spoke Cup. It was also really valuable to get used to cornering fast and riding in a bunch. Fast forward to the weekend. I managed to convince myself to do the 35-40 km ride out with the race team boys and then I was in for racing Div 4. Early on they didn’t seem to have a lot of entries but they must have had a lot of late entries as the fields were good sized. At a guess, I would say there was about 40 riders in Div 4 and some strong looking guys.
Going into a race I think it is always important to have a plan. Every race I go into, I think of how I want to race it and how I will react to situations. I decided I was not strong enough for a breakaway (or to bring one back) so I was going to just try and get around and see what I had left in the tank at the end for a sprint.
It was good to see a few SUVelo guys there and I could see they were strong so I changed my plans, to try and help them and save myself for a little sprint. In Div 4 the tactics are often questionable with plenty of riders happy to go to the front and work for no real reason. This keeps the pace high, but not really hard enough to drop people.
You can see the race here turned out quite similarly to the chop - a little easier numbers-wise, but a little longer (probably felt harder). This race came out as 219AP and 264NP. You can see from the file it was pretty consistently hard up the climb and easier on the flats and downhills. Those riders on the front were making it hard for the climbs but giving sprinters like me the chance to recover on the down hills. In my mind this isn’t a great tactic.
The Suvelo guys were keeping their noses out of the wind and waiting for the right time to attack - before the prime and on the last lap up the climb one of the SUVelo riders (Jesse) attacked and got away to take both the prime and the win. The other SUVelo riders and I marked the moves trying to get across to him to discourage them, and I managed to keep myself out of the wind enough to pick up the bunch sprint for 4th (with Jesse and 2 other guys slightly off the front). It was smiles all round as the tactics playing out perfectly.
You can see the last 5 min of the race below, it was 305W average with plenty of burst over 500W in the last few minutes. The sprint was quite small (900W) but with good positioning and timing I still managed to pick it up and hit 63km/h.
After riding home this became my longest and hardest ride to date and I was well and truly cooked. It was a good day out though and I had a lot of fun racing again. Can’t wait for more of it!