I think I was in survival mode at the Oceania Road Championships. I found the five-lap 116km race kind of boring. Only a week earlier I had completed a challenging 10-day selection camp at the Australian Institute of Sport. It was developed with the SAS and designed to make us crack. They were looking for more than just bike riders – they wanted bike racers. I guess sitting back in the bunch trying to get around safely isn’t really racing. And I guess that might be the reason why I found it boring.
My game plan was pretty simple – finish. I had raced the individual time trial two days earlier where I placed sixth, and was feeling a combination of fatigue from the camp and that race. I was pretty uncomfortable in the first two laps. There were some edgy girls and I quickly discovered why you don’t want to be up the back. There was some heavy braking about 2km in but everyone kept it upright. We were not so lucky through the feed zone on lap 2. I have no idea what happened but all of the sudden someone goes down on the right, another girl goes over and then what appeared to be a separate crash on the left resulted in a small pile-up. I was just behind it and had enough time to brake, reverse and then get around the carnage to begin the mad chase. After the crash everything seemed to settle down and I felt more relaxed.
At one point I decided that I would mix things up a bit and get toward the front for one of the descents. This way I would get to go my own pace and wouldn’t have to be on my brakes too much. I didn’t really anticipate getting right to the front but that is where I ended up – and where I stayed for the next few kilometres. I always find myself in this situation. Just sitting on the front. A more experienced training partner was on my wheel and I looked back a couple of times for some guidance but she just shrugged and so I figured I should keep riding until someone felt the desire to come through. No one did. I led the bunch up the next climb and around a corner onto Duggans Road. Still on the front. So I decided to whip across the front and encourage another rider to come through. Still on the front. Bridie O’Donnell eventually rolled up alongside me to offer some advice. Apparently if you want to get off the front you just stop pedaling. Simple and safe. Will try it next time.
I found an interesting observation in the blog that Bridie posted about her race:
People (read: those not actually in the race) often report that these races are boring.
Well, as my Grandmother Jean would say “only boring people get bored.”
She also made reference to the National Talent Identification and Development initiative. I was fortunate to get signed to the NTID program in December last year. On camp I was told that I was not ready for international racing. There were some bike skills I was lacking – gear selection, pedaling efficiency, descending and staying relaxed on the bike. So far they have the talent identification bit sorted but I still have a way to go with the development bit. Looks like it might be a long winter in Australia trying to learn how to use rollers and working on making myself a bit more interesting.