Variety is the key of life. Especially, variety packs of chocolates. But mid-year racing variety is always good to keep things fresh and interesting. Preparation for the Kowalski Classic and races later in the year is going well, with races and rides both on the road and, thankfully, on the dirt.
Last weekend was the Sam Miranda road races, starting with a criterium on the Friday. I like crits, probably due to the similarities with cross country races. The race went fairly well for me. Although proving futile, I did attack twice. It was probably clever marketing that influenced me to attack. Earlier in the day, an ad on TV said “A boat is safest in the harbour but that is not what it was made for”. Saturday’s road race also drew similarities with mountain bike racing with a dirt climb at the halfway mark. I knew that last year’s early breakaway stayed away till the end, so I was conscious of staying up the front through the opening kilometres. A few kilometres in, a small group was beginning to form off the front. I saw there was a Charter Mason rider in it and when his teammate in the bunch attacked to bridge across, I jumped on his wheel. I was happy to make it to the break and I noticed the bunch had let us get a gap. Then it was time to really start working. Swapping off with our small bunch I noticed I was very much outgunned. Not that there was much time for thinking with the heart rate touching 190bpm. Eventually I conceded and started sitting on the back of the small bunch. Not that this was much easier! I fell off the back as we started to hit the rolling hills. I was disappointed but had to regroup as the bunch was closing in from behind.
Back in the safety of the bunch it was time to get ready for the climb. Hitting the dirt is always great, even with skinny tyres on. It just makes drifting easier! I did lose contact with the leaders up the climb though but wasn’t fussed and kept the pressure on over the top, picking up some other riders on the way down. This group quickly turned into a lot of riders, and then it was back to swapping off in flat out pace lines, chasing down the lead groups. The whole bunch was back together within the final few kilometres, minus the initial breakaway. With the usual final corner crash that seems to be a mainstay in road racing, and then it was all over. Sundays handicap was a bit dismal. I was off scratch and it was like being in the previous days break away all over again. It wasn’t long till it turned into an individual time trial!
This past weekend was a lot different with the S.H.I.T.S or Six Hours In The Saddle race in nearby Beechworth. I chose the 3-hour race option in the hope of getting some good race time on technical single track ahead of the Kowalski Classic. The first lap was a great test as to how I’d handle the single-track blind. Beechworth’s trails are akin to Mt Stromlo’s trails in Canberra, loose on a hard-pack surface and plenty of big rocks. Really the whole lap was one long rock garden! It was a great race; with Nick Morgan taking a well earned win. I managed second after Jarrod Hughes unfortunately crashed out near the end. It was a very tough race on the whole body and a great one to have in the bag. The weekend was topped off with a 5-hour ride through the mountains, searching out new places to ride. Five hours of riding around by yourself is a great way to get everything sorted for a busy back end of the year!