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Jayco Bay Cycling Classic

One day I hope that I will have learnt all the lessons there are to learn and actually win a bike race that doesn’t involve just me and the clock. Until then I keep making mistakes and continue to learn from them. Often I realise I am not making the best decisions during the race. I know where I should be positioned, but cannot get there. I find myself in the wind and on the inside line around corners. I also brake too heavily approaching tight corners and have been known to struggle to clip-in on the start-line. Given, some of these are learned skills that will require more practice and time on the bike.

Races like the Jayco Bay Cycling Classic should help. I was satisfied with my race in stage one but made no impact on it. Though at one point I was in fourth wheel and close enough to the front for Phil Liggett to announce my name. Win. The hotdog circuit plays to some of my strengths, with repeated sprints but the corners got in the way. We averaged between 52 and 60 seconds a lap so probably completed about 45 laps during the 45min race so that would be at least 90 sprints out of the corners. It was tough going. The commentators noted that some of the lap splits were just as fast as the men’s support race. My average heart rate was 181, which included two neutral laps after a crash, and I reached a max of 187 at several points during the race. It was a rude introduction to the Bay Crits that I watched for the first time on New Years Day in 2010. That day a crash in the final sprint of the women’s race held up the men’s start when an ambulance was called onto the course. I thought it looked fun but never considered I’d be racing only two years later. Even watching the crashes have not deterred me.

In stage one this year I was caught behind two crashes, one which was on the final lap, and almost came down myself mid-way during the race when I was attempting to follow and travel at the same speed as Jayco-AIS rider Alex Carle around one of the corners. I failed. Though I did finish in a field of hitters when many didn’t. In stage two I would be one of those to record a DNF after lasting a disappointing 15min with the bunch. I have a raft of excuses for the result but won’t bore you with them. Bottom-line is 17 women managed their bodies in the 40-degree heat and finished the race.

I considered that my rest day and was hopeful I would be able to redeem myself in stage three at Portarlington. I almost but not quite achieved redemption, being dropped from the bunch when I lost control on a tight corner with less than three laps to go. I was then pulled from the course when only 17 of the 51 starters remained. I guess that was progress, but it was still a DNF. I spent most of the race being an observer from last wheel, passing riders as they fatigued. You get a good view of the race but you are not in the race.

Stage four saw us leave Geelong early to join the Team Suzuki convoy to Williamstown. Last year I watched this same stage on a poor quality feed on the internet and had been warned about the roundabout which we approached from the right side, which was the wrong side. Word on the street was that the pace would be on from the gun so I ensured a hard warm-up on the ergo. Despite my best efforts to get to the race start early, the other teams were already assembled on the side of the course, which meant I was lined at the back of the bunch – again. I assumed my position at the rear of the field and stayed there for most of the race, digging deep on the straights each lap to make up maybe one or two places.

My parents had driven from Geelong to watch and I didn’t want to record my third consecutive DNF so was determined to finish so their trip wasn’t a waste of time. Dad kept yelling out ‘one more effort’ as I turned the bottom corner each lap where I would drop back about 10 metres and then fortunately chase back on. When the lap board came out to indicate five laps remaining, I was relieved but knew that my race was not done yet. With what I thought was a lap and a half to go I had a crack and moved to the front of the chase bunch to make life a little easier and hopefully still be there coming into the final corner and sprint. When I passed the start-finish line and we still had two laps to go I realised that I had miscalculated and would not in fact be able to ride the front for two laps. Rookie error. That was pretty much my race over but I managed to stay mid-field and finish in 13th, which would be my highest placing for the week.

I have been reassured by friends that even Chloe Hosking only finished one Bay Crit on her first attempt, so by my calculations and based on her progression in this event, I should be able to win a stage in six years time. Today we move to Ballarat for the Australian Road National Championships where I will race the criterium, road race, and time trial. I hope I am a fast learner.

Rebecca Wiasak