Anna did the criterium race on the Saturday (she came 10th) while I had some beers and we both did the road race on Sunday - she came 7th out of 15 finishers and I came 13th out of 23 finishers in the C grade men's race. There was a fair rate of attrition in both races. While there we stayed at the Old Picture Theatre which was a great place and very conviently located in the centre of town so nice and close to the race start and finish spots.
A whole bunch of the SPR crew were there as well so it was a fun weekend.
The road race was a figure eight loop with Pemberton the centre of the "8". The northern part of the loop started with some rolling hills and then comes back out onto the highway for a nice, fast, mostly downhill run back into town. The southern part of the loop starts with a sharp climb up Pump Hill Rd before rolling back out onto the highway, downhill towards Pemberton before a short climb back up to the start line.
Both the C grade men and the women would do two laps of the course. The start line was at the bottom of town so that meant an uphill start. We watched the A grade men take off up the hill at speed so that didn't bode well. The B grade men also had an attack up the hill so at this point I was feeling pretty nervous. But, fortune shined on us and everyone in C grade took it nice and easy up the hill the first time.
We were joking about it being a group ride and regrouping at the top of every hill. That attitude lasted until the top of the hill and then we took off. Pretty much everyone stayed together up the first few climbs but by then it was obvious that some were already tiring and there were others who were even worse hill climbers than me.
I'm great on downhills, pretty quick on the flats but I royally suck at any significant climb. I have improved over the last year but there is still plenty of work to be done. Despite my muscular handicaps I stayed with the group through the hills and back out onto the highway.
My speedo tells me we hit 68 km/h on the way back into town but I have no idea where that was. In order to stay with the pack I moved up close to the front and this meant that I did a couple of turns. That was pretty silly as I ended up leading back into town and was second in the pack as we headed out onto the bottom part of the figure 8 course.
Pump Hill Rd got me - I should have tried to power up it but I didn't and I paid for it. The bunch went past and despite trying to get back on at the top where they'd gapped me by about 200 metres I didn't get there. I sped back into down hoping to catch them on the downhill but still no luck and I was feeling pretty second-hand at the start of the final lap as I headed up the hill in town.
I was pretty sure I was last at this point but I wanted to finish the race so I kept on going. About a third of the way into the lap I saw a flash of lightning and about two seconds later was hit by the thunderclap. Hmmm. Not nice. Then, the rain started gently coming down - not too bad really. But as I turned onto Eastbrook Rd the rain came down and it came down hard.
At one point as I was going down one of the hills it was so hard I couldn't see the road so I had to slow down. Once it cleared a bit it was obvious I was riding through water running across the road about 5-10cm deep. And then the rain got painful as it turned briefly to hail.
As I got back up onto the highway the rain had eased so I had a gel, got down into the drops and pushed hard. Along the way I passed two other C grade guys and only when I got to town did I realise that one of them had sat on my wheel all the way back into town from when I passed him - about 7 km or so.
Back through town again, back up Pump Hill Rd (urgh), around the back side of the loop and up the little climb to the finish. I was about 10 minutes off the leaders and only about two minutes behind Anna's time which wasn't too bad given that I had no help at all for about 60% of the race but I only have myself to blame for that.
This morning we went out for a spin and did a few intervals up Pump Hill Rd. Next year, I think I can make that into a power climb so that will solve one problem. Other random stuff:
I was reminded why we don't go away for long weekends very often. The traffic out of Perth on Friday night was crazy. It took an hour to get from West Perth to the Caltex at the end of the freeway in Baldivis and we left at 3:45 PM. And then it was stop-start all the way through Mandurah until it got a bit clearer heading into Bunbury. It doesn't stress me out but I can't understand people who go through that (i.e. people who live at the end of the freeway south/north and beyond) every single day.
While I was parked at the Caltex in Baldivis waiting for some friends I noticed some idiots guys smoking on the forecourt at the service station. A curt conversation ensued but they did not seem to understand that petrol vapours are the problem, not so much the fuel itself and the fumes can travel a considerable distance. Morons.
My fuel usage in the Jeep was pretty good given that it has an Amercian designed pushrod V6 driving a vehicle with the aerodynamics of a blunt brick. As we came back into town it was showing 10.9 litres/100km which was down from the run-about town figure of 13.8 when we left. And it was still trending downwards slightly so that isn't too bad.
This week we have our final RFY training sessions because next week we're doing the ride. Yay!