Since Tuesday was a rainout, and riding was on the low side the early part of the week, it is high time to race on Thursday.
The routine to race on Thursday is like this: I have to leave work at 5pm sharp, commute for about 70 minutes at below threshold pace (roughly L2) to Richmond. Sign-up, final warm up, race for about 30 minutes then commute home. If I am stuck in the office which often happens and cannot leave before 5:15pm there is no hope making the race. So it is roughly a 2 hour commute for a 30 minute race.
Thursday was also the company annual barbeque at Stanley Park. I decided to opt out of the barbeque partly to work on my projects and partly to make sure I leave downtown on time.
I have not been doing good at this Richmond criterium for one reason or another. The first time I went to race in 2008 I was rushing to get there so my legs were feeling tired before the race started. I blew up with about 2 laps to go. The second time was the same week as WTNC #1 this year and I was not in good shape. I was not able to hang on to the lead group of four or five and cramped with about 2 laps to go. I finished but barely.
I do not have high hopes this race. I was aiming to finish in the lead group and get a good workout. I was constantly positioning myself in the front third: not front enough to chase the occasion efforts to break away and also not needed to pull in the front of pack that often. There was a good size crowd so it is easier to move up the pack as there are more shielding from the wind. Moreover the road is wide so there are lots of lanes to move around people.
By about the 4th lap I got to the front and did some work pulling. As I crossed the start/finish line they rang the bell for prime lap! I was worried that if I pull off too soon nobody would want to work in front and it would be more accident prone. So I continued pulling the group through the backside so the guys can go for the sprint. Then I have to work a bit to make sure the sprint group didn't stay away. Once I caught them I looked down to see my numbers. My heart rate was going at 175 at that point! My threshold is 168 and history has taught me that I cannot stay above that number too long. I also made the determination not to look at my numbers again until the end of the race and see how I can race this.
The end the average speed is 41.5kph and my max heart rate is 179. The max heart rate is a personal best as I have never gone beyond 176 is previous efforts and testing.
The middle couple of laps I was hanging towards the end of the pack or what's left of it. By about the 9th lap I was feeling good and looked down on my Heart Rate monitor. The number was 161. That means I was well rested and ready for more action. We were going against the wind towards the start finish line. I was at about 6th or 7th wheel but still I decided to pull out and push the pace up. When I cross the start finish line I heard the bell ring again for the second prime lap. Sure enough I have to keep the pace high again for about half a lap before I slow down. I then follow the pack making sure there is no significant gap.
For the last couple of laps I was just hanging around making sure I was in the front 3rd and not creating gaps. On the last turn towards the finish line I found on 3rd wheel behind two strong guys looking for the win. I waited for them to move knowing that I cannot outsprint these 2 guys and I do not have much left in the tank. Once one of them move I tried to follow but their speed is just to great. I sat up and let one guy move around me. There was another guy nipping me at the line and I finished 5th. Regardless these is the first points I claimed as a competitive cyclist and it only took my 3 seasons.
The good part about the race was that I raced smart and did not use up a lot of energy. I did most of it right and was lucky enough to be at a good opportunity for somebody to win provided he has a decent sprint speed. The bad part was that I never was in this situation and did not know how to win the race given the opportunity.
From a power point of view it can be divided into 3 parts: the first 10 minutes until the first prime the average power was 252W. The middle 7 middle minutes I had a bit of a break and average power was 195W. The last 8 minutes the average was up to 262W with that long pull being 46 seconds and average of 323W. Overall the average was 239W with normalized power being 253W.
- race smart and not necessarily hard.
- law of large numbers: race often and good things will happen.
- relax and enjoy the race.
- work on sprinting!