CCCX - 2/3 and 1/2/3 races.
Last weekend Joe and I headed down to another fun filled day at the Central Coast Circuit Races. It was the usual weather with partly cloudy skies and a strong wind blowing off the coast to the east. The first race was the 2/3, which to my surprise had a decent size field. After a quick roller warm up and a pre-race discussion, we were off. The plan was simple - attack! We wanted to make sure that one of us got on the podium so we decided to stay active at the front and just take turns going for a break away. We rolled through the first lap pretty easily and about half way through the second lap Joe snuck away with another rider. They made a decent gap pretty quickly, while I stayed at the front playing the waiting game. I kept things going just enough to stop the whole field from surging while letting a couple other riders take off to bridge the gap. Pretty soon it was a motivated 5 man group off the front and they worked well. However, the dynamical system of a race scenario rarely works out the way you may expect. The rest of the field finally realized that I was just blocking on the front and the big field surge finally bridged the gap, bringing us all back together on the back side rollers. I sat there on the front and waited as we dropped down one of the small descents and then punched it on the next roller into the wind. I could tell that someone was on my wheel, so I continued a big pull and called the other guy up. There were only two of us but we had a good gap and there was no point in wasting time. He hesitated at first but they started to come through and we began to work. As we came through to finish another lap, there were 3 more to go and I really dug in and kept a fast pace over the little uphill finish. This was the tailwind section and we had to give it everything to extent the gap with this advantage. But when I called the other rider through, he was gone. I guess he wasn’t ready to commit and I sure as hell wasn’t about to just go back into the field, so I put my head down and tried to extend the gap. Three laps was a tall order on this course with all the wind and the size of the field, but I had to try. So as the laps went by I tried to use the tailwind sections to pull out the gap and maintain that on the rollers into the headwind. It was tough but it worked. On the last lap the gap was dropping but I still kept away. Unfortunately one rider got away from the field with 3 km to go and caught me with 2 km to go. He sat on for a moment and then worked with me a little. I knew I was tired and didn’t have much of a sprint in me, so I tried to gap him on the small riser before the descent. I thought it worked and just buried myself on the finishing stretch into the final corner, but at 200m to the line I heard him coming up. He timed it perfectly and got me in the last few meters. I was angry because I wanted the win after all that effort, but I was also happy to get second with a solo breakaway move. Besides, that’s racing. Joe came in with the rest of the field sprint for a top ten position. Overall our tactics almost worked perfectly, but in the end we still got a man on the podium.
Next up was the 1/2/3 race. We were both a little tired but ready for the fight. Right from the gun it a break went off and the chase was on. Joe tried to make the jump and almost got there, but was eventually eaten up by the wind and terrain. I hung in and tried to do as much as I could to bring back the break. Eventually the break disintegrated to two riders and with three laps to go I had a mechanical and my race was done. Overall this race was much faster, but had a small field, which led to some weird tactics. But in the end it was great training, great racing with Joe, and more fuel to the fire for the remaining races of this year.
Furthermore, let me make a point to mention that this mechanical was completely my fault and not the fault of our wonderful sponsor - Fresh Air Bicycles. Those mechanics at FAB are wise beyond their years. With their futuristic mechanical perspectives and craftsmanship, our bikes are always ready for the races, until we mess them up ourselves and ruin the perfection that was. Also, let me say thanks to Jupei and Saskia for the support and photos.