Winning a 2/3 Category road race

So I’ve been lucky enough to win a few road races in my time. Sadly the past few years have been a drought, with a different main focus (ultra racing) I’ve not managed to pick up a victory.

Thankfully, last weekend saw and end to that and I won a local second and third category road race. And I won in the only way I’ve ever won a bike race, riding off the front! I might lack any sort of sprint or short power, but I’ve got an engine.

With that in mind, I thought some might be interest in seeing what it takes to win a local race, power wise. We all know a pro needs 6.5w/kg to get a sniff at the tour. But for more mortals, what’s needed?

 

Screen Shot 2017-03-10 at 13.22.32

The race in full; 286W average, 326W normalised.

Synopsis of the race; I sat in for the first hour, I’d come here to win and I wasn’t interested in wasting energy racing for the first break. There were some moves, but nothing looked super promising so I waiting. The course is pretty rolling and it was windy, it would be a tough day out front.
Screen Shot 2017-03-10 at 13.31.50

The first hour, taking it ‘easy’; 232W average, 293W normalised.

About an hour into the race a move of 5 went. 5 makes for a good number for break, so I watched. A gap was starting to form and of the 5 were a few stronger looking riders. I decided it was time to et across.

There are two options when bridging across a gap, do it alone, or have help. Help makes it easier, but you don’t want to drag people across. I decided to go into a headwind and go as hard as I could. If anyone followed, then they’d make a good companion. If not, well they weren’t strong enough.

So full gas, that’s how you bridge, not half arsing. I needed to put ride 5 guys riding full gas to get across, horrible.

The effort it took was 4m26seconds minutes at 412W average and 453W normalise. This was full on and it hurt, a lot. But thankfully I made it.

Screen Shot 2017-03-10 at 13.30.31

Bridging effort

Once across there was no time to waste, a short downhill thankfully allowed a bit of recovery. We had a gap back to the bunch and I wanted it to stick, so to the front and push on. This lasted till the first hill, when Matt from Catford got on the front, he weighs about as much as my left leg and left everyone behind! A selection. The weaker were to be weeded, that included me. Okay well, I’m just going to have to settle in and ride. Either I’ll reach Matt, or someone will reach me. But I might as well rode, if it’s hard for me, it’s hard for others.

Anyone someone reached me, he sat on for a bit and then attacked me on a hill? But pointless. Anyway once back on the flat I reeled him in and told him we’d work together and we’d reach Matt. There was 30 miles left, no time for antics. Not long after we reached Matt and we became a 3. A few more members would have been good, but we had a gap and I was keen to ride, a quick word and we agreed to ride and push on together.

Not long after this our third compatriot departed backwards, clearly the pace was tough going. Matt and I pushed on, we had a gap of over 1 minute and I felt we could either make it stick or we’d be joined by some strong guys bridging. Either way good.

Matt and j formed a good allegiance and rode well together, he’s super strong and rode the hills and I pushed us along the flat. In a small break we needed to work to our strengths, or my weaknesses being a bit heavier!

So it was windy out, not a day to mess about with each other. I said we’d ride together to the end, equal turns. Second is better than 3rd. In the last lap I looked behind, we had a gap of 1m30s and were just ticking away, no need to push super hard. But someone, lone had ridge across. He was closing slowly, clearly tired. I didn’t want to race, so before he closed it was time to push on. At the same time I felt Matt was fading, the effort had clearly taken its toll, maybe he’d under eaten.  The amount you need to eat to sustain riding out front is disgusting. Lucky I love to eat!

 

Screen Shot 2017-03-10 at 13.24.30

The break; 318W average, 334W normalised, hard work.

So where to attack, he’s fading. I let him do a turn up a slight drag into the headwind and then as he pulled off I went as hard as I could, across the other side of the road. A quick look back and I’d made a gap. No messing now, I’d done over my breakaway mate and attacked. I just stuck my head down, into the headwind and gave it all to the finish.

It took 8 minutes at 360W. This again was nearly all out, maybe not quite as I had a big gap. But it hurt the same. I crossed the line first, solo. I love to win that way.

Screen Shot 2017-03-10 at 13.27.11

Fair play to Matt, a good guy to ride together with. Didn’t shirk a turn. A strong guy.
I’ve worked hard this winter, finding time to train more. It’s clearly paid off. I’m not as fast as I could be, yet. But I’ve got a big depth of fitness and it shows.

The race on Strava

I’m looking forward to continuing some road racing, building towards transcontinental, I forgot how much I love it. Sadly I might not get away with the same move again!

SERRL 2:3 5th March Win

Remembering how to get my hands up!

(Credit SouthernEdgeCycling)