(photo credit: Katie Quinn)
Race date: 13-03-16
And I'm not talking about a double espresso, although I certainly did have one of those.
The weekend just gone was the second round of the St Kilda vs Caulfield Carnegie Shield—a made up shield to spark some extra competitiveness, and I'm all for it, may the tradition long continue. St Kilda were leading things with their home advantage two weeks ago. And I had put 4 points into the pot for my victory in D grade.
So going into round two, the current score was SKCC 19 points and CCCC 4 points. But like I said, we were at home and that gave us the huge advantage of both numbers and course experience.
This week was going to be held at the Glenvale crits in Mulgrave, where the CCCC members would be turning up in force. It’s a bit of a trek for those of us not used to racing there. I had a lot of hours to make up on my training schedule, so I decided to ride over and potentially hit the Dandenongs after, depending on how I felt—I did go in the end.
Katie decided to ride over as well, but to spectate and support the squad rather than race. I was the only squad member that decided to race in the end. So Katie and I rode the very boring and straight road that is North Road to get there, the company was good so it flew by. Riding that road alone is boring as shit!
When we got there, I entered and quickly found out no one else from our little squad was entering, but we bumped into a couple of other SKCC guys, Doug and Nick, that were racing, so all’s well. We could work as a team to bring it home for St Kilda...
We needed coffee, but there were no cafes open in the area! Never fear, there's always a Maccas near. So we headed off to McDonalds, of all places, for our caffeine hit. I just went for a double espresso, which has started to become my coffee variant of choice recently, although not always a double. I used to be a long black man...just going to let that linger for a bit...but it often came too hot and I didn’t enjoy it all that much. Espressos are much safer and actually pack a nice punch of coffee flavour. So that’s how I take my coffee now if you’re ever shouting me one.
We then headed back over to the crits and caught up with some more people, including Craig, an Irish lad.
As I’ve probably mentioned before, but I’m not certain I have, CCCC’s C grade is like a mix of the D and C grades of SKCC. This was further confirmed as Craig and Nick are both C grade at SKCC and were entered into C grade at CCCC. Previously I thought maybe there would only be a few C graders, but having those two there made my pre-race thoughts quickly race to how hard the next hour was going to be. I faked a bit of confidence and bravado and said I was going for the double—a win at both SKCC and CCCC for this shield thing. It was a big ask though.
The race kicked off, and as most of these races go, it’s all a bit tense and easy pedalling for the first few laps. So, I figured I’d have a dig. If you’ve read a lot of my blogs, I do this quite a lot. The back straight was the best place to attack, being against the wind, so when we made our way around to the prime attacking location, I swung over the right hand side and pedalled hard. I didn’t want to sprint and blow up, so I just used a sustained high effort to create a gap.
I spent about 2 laps out front, and built quite a decent gap. I felt like they were going to leave me out there. They probably thought I was no threat and they wanted to see me suffer, then fall back into line like a good little boy. Either that or I was putting a decent stab into the field and hurting them... Hopefully more than I was hurting myself.
After a couple of laps, Nick joined me. Now there were two of us, causing the field to panic, probably. Nick and I maintained a fast pace and a good gap for a while. I was starting to edge my way into the red but I felt like I could sustain this effort a bit longer. Nevertheless, the bunch started to gain ground on us. When they were within about 20 metres, I didn’t see the point in pushing myself further into the red, just to wait for the inevitable swallowing.
After a little while of resting in the bunch, I was almost recovered, but not quite. Now, I generally refuse to sit on the front, opting more for an attack than wasting my energy pulling around my competition. But I found myself practically on the front, with Nick and Doug up there too. Nick made it very clear that we should attack, he did this by shouting "let's attack". I didn’t feel like I had it in me so I decided not to. We were about 20 minutes from the end, so it’d take a big push to get one going. So off he went on his own.
When he jumped, it left me on the front, which was quite fine considering. I basically sat up and soft pedalled. I wasn’t going to chase a fellow SKCC member, and we’d had coffee and he seemed like a decent guy. The funny thing was, nobody else decided to overtake me and chase, not even after a full two laps. I was quite surprised, but it's like the bunch was taking my lead and resting up. Therefore Nick built up a nice healthy lead.
JLamb had decided not to race because his quad was sore, however he had been persuaded to marshall our grade—the grade he was also going to race in. I’d say he was easily the fittest marshall for our race, and as such he had to bridge the gap to Nick and 'marshall' him. Basically, he may as well have raced, as he was now following the Nick in the break and having to push a bit of power anyway.
After a few more laps, a few attacks started occurring, attempting to bridge the gap to Nick. This caused the bunch to speed up. After a while we had Nick in our sight and therefore grasp, sorry mate, great effort but it wasn’t his day. After we gobbled him up, I didn’t see him again. I was maintaining good position at the front, and making sure I stayed towards the right hand side as to not get boxed in! My game plan was flawless up to now. If I don't say so myself.
As the 3 laps to go sign was shown, I continued to hold this position—around 3rd wheel—all the way to the final lap. The speed increased and the jostling for position increased, but I stayed firm and didn’t let anyone steal my wheel. Then a big guy attacked on the penultimate straight, so I jumped on him and sat on his wheel. I figured he could drag me around the final corner and into the home stretch. That’s what he did. He then started his sprint, and so did I. I came level with him and gave it everything I had. It's a long sprint. We hit the line and I thought we were neck and neck so I made a mad lunge!
I had no idea if I’d got the win, but upon returning to the start line, my mates were pretty adamant that I’d won. Like there was no question in it! And according to this picture, taken by Katie, I can see why.
The Shield. With my win, and the double in the bag, I had added another 4 points to the pot, 8 in total for those of you that are mathematically illiterate. We had we had a few more points in other grades making the inaugural CCCC/SKCC Shield ours. The final score was 27 to 21, so pretty close and making my 8 points pretty valuable...