26 July 2014 Lookout Hill – Tidbinbilla Return E grade.
Well there has been quite a break from race reports recently. John had is dog training, there have been a number of races cancelled, and I’ve been on holiday in a land of fabulous cheese, wine, beer, chocolate and whisky. (Some will recognise the destination from a clue below and for those who don’t, well I’m sorry but you’re missing out.)
After such a long break, John and I were very keen to get out there and mix it. Despite the holiday, where I found some of the weight I’d lost over the last couple of months, I was still a lot lighter than the last time I raced with John. As a result I’ve been climbing better and was hoping that this would translate to better climbing on the long bike. Despite this we were still expecting to be dropped on the climbs, and hoping to chase back on the descents.
The race was 25km out and back which started at the top of Lookout Hill and is on one of those roads with no flat bits on it, except for the tops and bottoms of the hills. There are 3 significant climbs, Asthma Hill near the start, the Corin Intersection climb, and the Birrigai climb on the return. Significantly the last 3.5 km involve the descent of Asthma Hill, a fast run down a gentle slope leading into a 500m false flat to the base of Lookout Hill. There are 3 marked finish lines on Lookout Hill, a rarely used one at the bottom for the pure sprinters, one half-way up for the strong riders, and one at the top which favours the climbers. It is only about 500m to the top line but quite steep and that is where the finish for this race would be.
Sadly there was a bit of cloud and rain around beforehand which is likely to have scared off many of the more soluble club members. This was a real shame as recent changes mean that the club has to pay for professional marshals, and the less well attended races cost the club money. As it happened there was only a light sprinkle of rain during the race itself, the temperature was in double figures so quite pleasant and there was little wind to speak of. All in all pretty good for racing.
It is important to have a plan, it gives you something to change. Ours was pretty simple, ride the final descent as hard as we could and build up a lead to the bottom of Lookout Hill that we could hopefully defend. Of course this relied on us being with or near to the others at the top of the last descent and our record on hilly courses isn’t terribly good.
A small turnout of 9 bikes took to the line, including John I. and Bob who proved to be better climbers than me in my last race at Orroral Valley. Not surprisingly we rolled to the front from the start, we took at least one Klingon with us, and it may have been the whole group but I wasn’t looking around much. In any case the bunch was together at the start of the steep bit of Asthma Hill which was already encouraging since we have been dropped before getting to that point before. Up the climb we were pleased to find that we were not the first dropped, Phill took that honour and he wasn’t destined to see the bunch again. There was also two others John and Steve who dropped off the bunch in our vicinity.
Once we got to the top we were able to pick up the pace and chase back on to the bunch on the downhills, were able to pick up one of the stragglers and towed him back to the bunch but he didn’t come with us when we went around them. We built a lead into the drop to the bottom of the Corin Intersection climb. As expected we were caught about half-way up but we were really pleased when we got to the top, and were only about 10seconds off the pace. Another descent let us catch and pass the group again and we held a lead at the top of Birrigai.
This was a key bit of road for us since if the others had held on and sucked our wheel down the fast bit our advantage would be obliterated. We built a lead which we were able to hold all the way down to the turn and back to the climb back up Birrigai. This time there was only four who got past us as we turned ourselves inside out to restrict the deficit. Linda managed to catch us near the top and I encouraged her to stay with us but it didn’t happen. We got to the top of the Corin Intersection hill again only about 10 seconds off the pace and with a fast descent we were able to carry momentum and pass the others on the climb out the other side.
We briefly rode with the group until the dip before the final climb, which was going to be the key point of the race. Fortunately there were no big attacks put in up the climb and with a bit of effort we were still with the others at the top. By this stage we were feeling pretty good about our chances but there was no point in taking any tactical risks. I gave John the silent signal to go and we launched as the road started to tip in our favour. After that it was a matter of powering up the 55X11 until we topped out, did our best impression of a coat of paint on the top tube down the steep bit, and then powered down the final grade to the foot of the Lookout Hill. From that point we set a PR to the top where we discovered that we managed to hold on to a 37s lead from John I., Bob, Ian and Kirsty.
It was a thoroughly satisfying first road race win for the Heavy Tandem in E grade, and I celebrated with a Wizard Smith ale.Some proof.