I finished 2nd in my 35-44yrs age group yesterday, and 27th overall in the K1 90km race from Thames to Whitianga.
Until two months ago, I was training for the K2 200km race. My training was going well through August, and I was riding 4.5 hr rides by the end of the month. However, we had 5-6 weeks of terrible weather which put an end to my K2 goal.
I have done a lot of speed work over the past 6 weeks, and I got into good shape, especially for this time of year. I came close to several of my PBs that I set in January-February of last season when I was at my peak.
But I may have also pushed it a little too hard. I went through several cycles of a good week followed by a bad week. And this week was definitely not a good week.
I pushed myself really hard last weekend with the expectation of tapering and recovering by yesterday's race. However, my legs were really tight during easy rides on Thursday and Friday of this week.
But lets get back to the race. The neutralized start was a disaster. Moments after our starting gun, we intersected with another group competing in another race. I was in about the 5th row at the starting line in my race, and some cyclist stopped to let the other race proceed, while others accelerated ahead. So, within 20 seconds, the race was split up, and I couldn't tell who was I my field and who wasn't. Chaos.
The smoke cleared about a minute later and I realized a big gap had already opened. Twenty or so from my field had a 20 second gap, and there were only 3-4 with me to bridge.
It took us 6km in strong cross-winds to catch the leaders. The chart below shows heart-rate (blue), power (red), speed (green), and elevation (brown). My 5-min power average during this effort was 364w and 10-min was 327w. Those are my highest power outputs for 5 and 10 mins since I started using the power meter in August. Not the best start to a race - I burned a match or two.
We settled down for 10 minutes or so as we regrouped. Next was the 425m climb. And although my climbing has been good lately, my legs couldn't keep up yesterday. As soon as the pace really picked up, I started slowly dropping back from the leaders. Race over.
I ended up in a small chasing group of 5-6. We trailed a leading group of 15-20. They were all strong riders, but I knew we'd never catch the leaders. The course has two climbs; one at km-20 and a second at km-56. The rest if flat/undulating. Better to stay with a group than to be riding alone trying to chase the leaders.
Our group swelled to about 15 over time, as we picked up a few from the leading bunch, and several others caught us. As usual, a minority of the bunch did the majority of the work.
The last 8-10 km into Whitianga are dead flat. One guy managed to slip off the front as we crested a small hill and maintained his lead to the finish. I thought I would try the same tactic. I put in a small attack 4km from the finish and opened up a break. I should've been caught but they couldn't organize themselves and I held on until the finish.
My power spikes to 700w, then settles into the low 300s (I definitely should've been caught in low 300w). Speed with a tailwind was between 50-55kph. Power dips for a moment taking a sharp-right hand turn, and then charge to the finish.
So, 27th overall in 2hrs 37m and 2nd in my age-group. Younger riders dominated today. Seventeen of the 26 people ahead of me were under 23 years. I think they have an advantage at this time of year - they have the time to train through the winter.
Now some rest before next Sunday's 115km MS Bike The Bridge.