Tuesday, September 26th, 2017

Crocodile Trophy Prep #4: `Form Finder’ Weekend

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Training is one thing, but there is nothing like a race or two to provide an insight into how the preparations are going. When the Mawson Marathon was cancelled I earmarked the same weekend for a couple of `form finders’ – races that would provide a more accurate gauge of where I was at. It was important that I did two races back to back for several reasons. It would:

  1. Help to mimick the backing up required by the Croc (10 days in row)
  2. Provide me with a clearer indication of how my body responded to racing while fatigued
  3. Provide me with a simulation that I could properly assess whether my nutrition strategy was going to work

The two races chosen were the St Kilda Cycling Club Championships and Castlemaine 6 Hour Enduro.

The club champs is a big race – 80 odd starters and a very strong elite field. There were probably a dozen guys not out of place in big State races and 20 others with good pedigree. The 100km race was reasonably flat and windy and suited me. It was clear that 02 were the team to beat with half a dozen guys capable of winning the race. My advice to teammates (VeloBourne who are Giant sponsored) was to avoid any break that didn’t have one O2 guy in it. I went with a few moves early and was attentive, knowing the crosswinds meant position was critical. The big move came at the 45km mark, with five or six guys coming together up the road including and O2 rider. The guy I was marking was Duncan Smith from O2, who is strong and smart. When I saw him bridge across to the group I knew it was my moment. I couldn’t quite get to his back wheel but managed to bridge across five lengths behind him, and apparently a few other guys had also managed to get across.

We were 12 in total and worked well initially. Importantly the three big teams were represented – two from 02, two from Sole Devotion and Pikey and myself. Predictably, there wasn’t a lot of urgency or cohesion in the chase and as we worked strong turns the time gap increased. We weren’t getting any time checks but it eventually reached 5 mins. The guys in the group stepped into it on a few occasions and 5 of the original 12 were dispensed. After some cat and mouse for the last 5kms and a few big attacks we were altogether for the final uphill sprint. I decided to mark Duncan Smith again and it was the right wheel to follow. I couldn’t get over him though, or Aaron Salisbury who took the win, but opened up a 50 metre gap on fourth place to claim a podium spot. Very satisfying day considering I’m in the middle of a hard block of nightly indoor trainer sessions.

Backing up next day was always going to be hard. A 1.5 hour drive to Castlemaine, six hours on the bike and the return trip was brutal. Not to mention scrambling to get on a 9pm flight that night to Sydney. The race was the first I had done of this length with no real food – just bottles of Torq electrolyte and Torq gels (8 of them). Apart from a poor second hour the race went well and I managed to ride myself into fifth spot in Elite behind some good riders. I was most satisfied that the nutrition plan had stacked up for the two days – the only change I will make is a few less caffeinated gels. I was getting heart palpitations going up the hills towards the end! Big thanks to Steve for handing me bottles all day – has to be worth 5 minutes and not an easy task or a particularly relaxing day for him! And the Anthem was running like a dream thanks to Bicycles Inc – with that much climbing and that many technical rocky sections it needed to be!

In all a satisfying weekend and confidence that I am on track.

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