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TOP 10 finish in 110km road race

MozBikerMozBiker Posts: 77
edited July 2017 in Amateur race
Hello to all my fellow cyclists.

I have completed my second road race last sunday and thought you would like to hear my race report.

Setting: Out and back race. Starting on a hill, drop onto a flat section, start gently climbing on rolling hills. Killer 10km long climb to the halfway mark. And back to the start, now ending on that hill that was so nice for descending.

This time round I was racing with my younger brother and a friend who raced for a few years in America. And the field was slightly bigger than the 23 from my last race.

Arrive at the start and sign up. Uh oh. The national cycling team from the neighbouring country, Swaziland, just showed up. And they are all built like Nairo Quintana. Small, lean and fast.

Mozambique's cycling hero is also there and in absolutely fantastic form. He is much stronger than these guys, no doubt about it.

After seeing the mountain bikers off, we wait for some "technical" issue to be resolved. Turns out our police escort vehicle had a flat wheel. Technical issue resolved and off we go, with a TV crew on a car in front of us. Look good lads, smile now!! I look around to see where whoever-I-know-is-strong is riding. We are all bunched up in the neutral zone and I try to stay within 10 wheels of the front. Flag drops and, as I was expecting from some of the more enthusiastic riders, two guys try and breakaway. On a fast easy descent. Not getting anywhere!!

We catch them on the first lumpy bit of the descent. The Swazi team and the local favourite are close to the front and my two unofficial teammates and I are all well positioned. We let others pull on the descent and on the few sections where it flattens out. This is cruising!!

As we hit each little hill and power it out to keep the speed up, the riders at the back are slowly getting dropped. First one or two, till eventually about 60% of the riders are out of sight behind us. Coincidentally some of the riders were descending Froomey style...in a bunch of mostly inexperienced racers. Let me stay out of your way.

The TV crew were still filming the whole time. We hit the flat and we are about 15 riders. pffftttt..... one of the team riders gets a flat. End of the race for you mate. We were flying at around 42kmph. No way he's gona solo that and catch up.

As soon as we get to some mildly steep rolling hills the team begins taking turns to attack and riding very aggressively up the hills. The local favourite closes the gap each time. I hear this honking noise behind us and it is the Swazi team's team car with their coach barking orders at them. Just great!!

The break had by now been whittled down to 10 riders thanks to the team's punishing pace up the inclines. They are barely breaking a sweat. The first big climb looms large and tall as we approach it. I place myself at second wheel to get maximum slipping room. Gears clicking all around and everyone sets to work trying to control the breathing, keeping the heart rate down and lactic acid at bay. The pace is blistering high. I am not the best physique for climbing weighing in at 78kg +. And I am trying to keep up with featherweight Watts factories. I do my best to keep up. My little brother is my height but just 8kgs lighter. And my friend is also of smaller build.

My body tells me that I will die on the second climb if I try to keep riding at that pace. I take the foot of the gas slightly and proceed to climb at a brisk, but sustainable, pace. 100m further my brother pulls off as well, shortly followed by my other friend. The team and the local guy proceed at their speed and soon got a good gap on us. I catch up to my buddies and take the lead climbing.

Shortly before we arrive at the turn around the lead group fly past us on the descent, with one guy out in front. Such folly trying to break away now! We make it to the top. The three of us take turns pulling trying to make up some time on the descent. As we descend we can see the remainder of the race all strung out on the climb. BIG gaps between riders. No two riders are together. We hit the flats again. And the leaders are out of sight.

Straight into TT mode with 1 minute pulls on the front and, much to our dismay, we were riding into a headwind. We pass a rider who gave up and was slowly making his way back waiting for the broom vehicle. Two of the Swazi team's riders blew up and we passed them at speed to discourage any wheel sucking. Only 5 guys in front of us! And there were no riders in sight behind us.

Around kilometer 80 I could feel my legs fatiguing. Take a swig from my electrolyte drink, grind my teeth and keep pedalling whilst trying my best to keep a smooth pedal stroke and an even cadence.

We hit the bottom of the final climb. 12 kilometers of climbing to the finish. The last 800m being a gruelling 9% gradient. I tell my buddy to go for it(as he is a good climber and had some fuel left in the tank) and he starts opening a gap while I proceed at my maximum sustainable pace. My little brother fades badly and gets left behind. A few hundred meters on I decide to turn back and give him a hand. The chasing riders were too far back to catch us and it wasn't as if I was going to gain anything by soldiering on by myself. I give him a push from behind while he tries to recover a bit. Thankfully there is a small flat section after the initial kick so he manages to get the fatigue under control.

With a few words of encouragement and a few pushes here and there we finally summit the gruelling grind of the last kilometer. Cross the finish line.

3:46:13 hours.
108,8km.
Elevation gain: 1 336m.
Totally satisfied with my performance. 11/10 in my view.

An absolutely awesome, exhilarating and exhausting race. My brother's first race wasn't the easiest one! Our friend finished 5 minutes ahead of us.

One of the Swazi team won. Favourite for the win came 3rd place.

One thing though. The local rider was completely by himself and the Swazi team took turns in attacking, sitting in and forcing the local rider to chase the breakaway down. Then the next guy went. While he was the stronger rider of us all, he couldn't ride alone against an attacking team. Chapeau to him for a valiant effort.

And chapeau to all the riders who completed the race. 10 riders had to be picked up by the broom vehicle. It was intense!


Hope you guys enjoy the story!
Cheers
Mad Mozzie

Posts

  • MozBikerMozBiker Posts: 77
    Almost forgot!

    We did get onto the local news station. I appeared in about 5 out of 8 sequences. Thankfully where I was looking strong and where I was climbing out of the saddle and NOT where I was grinding up the last climb!!
  • Thick MikeThick Mike Posts: 357
    I love your writing style MozBiker, I was willing you on at the end there!
  • MozBikerMozBiker Posts: 77
    Thick Mike wrote:
    I love your writing style MozBiker, I was willing you on at the end there!

    Thanks Thick Mike! I am glad you enjoyed it! Cheers mate
  • mac9091mac9091 Posts: 196
    Great write up. I generally don't remember too much from my races, maybe im not paying enough attention.

    Mine would be more along the lines of:

    Started strong, hit the front (showed face) accidentally a few times then sat in for a while. Then had a mad moment and went off on an attack, then died. Finished though :D
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