What a time of year to be a cyclist in Aus! The Bay Crits have just finished and now it’s time to turn things up a notch. The Austrailan Open Road Nationals are this weekend and it’s gonna be a hoot. I figured that since I was going to go out and watch anyway, I may as well embed myself in the middle of the peloton and get you all the TIPs first hand. If any of you Euro Pros are reading – don’t worry, I’ll stay out of your way.
Yeah, I know….it’s out of my league. It’s one thing to keep up with this caliber of riders, where you can hide in a mere hour long crit, but it’s a completely different thing when you throw 160km of hills into the mix. You gain a whole new appreciation for these pros when you try keeping up with them in this kind of terrain. They’re truly unbelievable. I’ve learned a few things over the years that I’m hoping will increase my chances of finishing the race this time. For what it’s worth, here are a few TIPs on what I’ll be doing and watching out for. Obviously this is for interest sake only – I don’t imagine anyone who has a shot of winning this race will be reading this blog!
Before the Race
- The race doesn’t start until 11am. Eat a good breakfast at about 7am. Don’t eat a heap of food or anything you wouldn’t normally eat. Eat something small again at about 9:30am. Stay away from large amounts of protein as the race gets near. Drink a bottle of your favorite sports drink during the hour before the race. Again – don’t eat or drink anything that your body isn’t used to. Before a big race isn’t the time to be experimenting with different foods.
- Get in a good hour warm-up directly before the race starts.
- Eat . The race will be intense and fast, so eat something that’s easy to open and easy to swallow. I’ll be eating gels and Maxim energy drinks, aiming for 80g of carbs per hour or 500 calories. *When you least feel like eating is the most important time to eat.
- Drink a 700ml bottle per hour of your favorite electrolyte. It’s forecasted to be a hot day. I’ll only carry one bottle at a time in order to keep the weight down.
- Make sure you know where your feed person will be located. Have them wear your team vest or something easily recognizable to you.
On The Climb
- The climb doesn’t start out very steep (5% or so). All riders in this race should be able to handle this climb. No need to panic .
- Come into the climb in the top 1/3 of the field. This way if you drop a wheel (or many), you’ll have lots of room to drift backwards and still not end up at the back of the pack by the end of the climb.
- Stay in the front 1/3 of the field when possible. The accordion affect is the same in the hills as in a tight cornered crit. It’s not as high paced, but to pick up that extra 1km/hr to close a gap takes just as much effort in the hills. A small acceleration at the front will amplify as it moves down the pack and riders will start to open up gaps.
- Spin every chance you get and don’t push big gears. I won’t be putting on a 12-27T or anything like that. I’ll use a 11-23 so I can find the closest and most comfortable gear ratios. There’s one pinch at the top of the climb that I may be uncomfortable using the 23T, but I’ll have to push through that.
- Even when some high profile rider gets dropped, don’t think that your time has come as well. Some of these guys may have been up at the front setting the pace and after their job is done they simply pull out. Don’t pull out until it’s genuinely your time. If you get dropped, look behind and realize that you probably weren’t the first one to lose contact. Recover and join one of the chase groups behind. You probably won’t catch back on to the main bunch, but at least you have a group of determined riders to go with.
On The Decent
- You don’t want to be chasing on the decent. This is the only place you can recover completely. Let some other eager rider chase and close down the gaps. Relax
- Put on your carbon brake pads if you’re using carbon wheels. You’ll be hitting 80-90km/hr on the decent. Need I say more?
- There is a Sprint Competition within this race. 14 times on laps 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11; 12, 13, 14 and 15. Be aware of this because the pace will ramp up before these laps. Don’t even think of taking part in these sprints if you want to come back into the climb with fresh legs.
- Finally, don’t take it too hard if you don’t finish the race. This is a difficult course made even more gruelling by such a competitive field. I was looking at Adam Hansen’s website where he posted his SRM data from last year’s race. I figure that I’ll need to be pushing over 500 watts on the climb for 7 minutes to be going the same speed as him when taking my weight into consideration. Possible, but extremely difficult. The winners of this race on this course are very small but powerful riders. Realistically, there are only a few who can win and even finish.
Does anyone have any tips for me?????