Tuesday, June 29, 2010

jack mcgowan handicap - tips for punters

[Image © Mal Sawford] I rode the Jack McGowan handicap on Saturday... what a disappointment! Last year over the same course I finished a pleasing seventh (or eighth?)... and then in my excitement forgot to claim my prize :-( Alas, what a dill! This year was a bit of a disaster... lots to learn and remember for next time:

(i) I learned my lesson about warming up in the rain at last year's 1:20 Hill Climb: don't do it! You end up wet and cold, not warmed up at all. Luckily I remembered this lesson and my warm-up, although short due to the showers, did have me ready to go at the start time.

(ii) But then the race started a half hour late and we were all left standing in the rain waiting whilst the organisers fixed a non-compliant printer in order to procure the start list and times. I know this frustration — on races I have run we have encountered similar problems. Luckily I found a dry spot under a friend's umbrella... thanks Mic (and Will)!

(iii) My mark was the same as last year... middle marker. Unfortunately, this year the group was dreadful for the first 20k's. Despite the lovely bikes, people would skip turns right from the get-go. Wheels were being dropped and huge gaps were opening up and needed continual closing as we lost valuable seconds that built into minutes to our pursuers --- all the gear and no idea! Guys... don't do this. Ride smoothly and take regular turns. Work together or you will lose.

(iv) We were caught by a pursuing bunch only 1/2 a lap into the 2 lap course. What a disaster. I darted around the front of our group in time to slide into the passing bunch. Next time I will wait at the back. I wasted too much effort (not much, but it was unnecessary all the same).

Shortly after this we were caught by yet another bunch and the hammer came down...

(v) I moved through the bunch taking a few turns then figured the bunch was so big and the workload being shared so unevenly that I would slide towards the back and sit on for a bit. MISTAKE! Gaps started opening in front of me. I closed a few... and then the guys at the front hit the gas and the speed picked up. As we turned a corner I was left in the slight breeze and dragging along in the gutter.

(vi) Next MISTAKE, don't close gaps one at a time. You will wear yourself out. What I should have done is close all the gaps at once with a big push up to the working riders at the front, then sit and do turns. What I did was close the gaps as they opened. I ended up in the gutter with no legs left and a gap open in front of me as a rider dropped off... ARGH! I couldn't close the gap. Bad, bad riding Alan.

(vii) From here I worked turns with a few stragglers until then end of lap 1. Then just one other guy and I worked turns for the next 10k's until we caught another little bunch... just in time to be caught by scratch. Somehow I did manage to sit on the back of the scratch bunch in the rain with the grit being spattered into my teeth... for a time. Until a gap opened that I couldn't close. These guys are quick.

I limped home with 5 other guys to the finish... well, at least we made it!

TIP 1: use your strength wisely and judiciously!
TIP 2: A bit of extra speed work would help for races like this too ;-)

No comments:

Post a Comment