So the day after the Durbanville race we’re back in race mode for a crit. This is a new addition to the racing series and to say I was quite looking forward to it wuold be an understatement, I was licking my lips!

The course was set in the Cape Town Market headquarters in Epping industria. The roads were mostly smooth but there was one 90 degree left turn, followed by a circle we’d round 60% of, through two traffic islands, jump the gutter, and then over 4 flat top speed bumps only to turn left through some rough pavement, to put it mildly.

The wind was up again which didn’t bother me too much and the sprint was flat, wide open  and with the wind. I had hoped the final turn would be sharper, but it was a smooth arc and offered no advantage to me. I was licking my lips for the rough stuff on the top of the course though and I hoped to gain some free meters there.

off the line I got boxed in behind Rob who messed around with his cleats before going anywhere. I was in the last 25% of the bunch and Aurecon had already rounded the corner and set up a two man break. I gave chase and moved up to the top third through the rough stuff I call the  “gauntlet”. I hid in the wind and was in the top 5 by lap two. We had already closed down the attack by the end of the second lap and I could see that I was taking good time through the gauntlet already. Time to make Daikin do some work and I jumped away on lap three through turn 1 and grew the advantage over the humps – which kicked your rear wheel into the air everytime you cleared one – I had almost a whole straight’s lead and I set about growing it. The headwind section I just rode at tempo and aimed to punish the gauntlet everytime round. There were “primes” every fifteen minutes and I hope to make the 1st one alone for a 5sec time bonus. I couldn’t maintain it on my own into the wind and two riders worked their way up to me a lap before the prime. I tried to rest a bit but couldn’t recover enough to win it and was pipped over the line into second, but still took 3 seconds. I waited for the main bunch to catch up after that and sat in a few laps though it was still hard racing and I had to cover a few counter attacks. By the second prime I was still recovering somewhat and missed the move off the front on the straight. 4 guys had a gap big enough and they took all the available time bonuses between them. I worked my way up the field again and Stuart and I too turns attacking. Nobody went clear but there were a lot of digs. The bell went for the third prime and I made sure I was well up the field. Halfway down the back straight as the wind turns behind you for the line I put the hammer down. Stuart was on  front and he sat up long enough to give me a gap, I took a lot of meters and kept going to roll over for 5 sec comfortably alone. I sat up again….just 5 minutes to go.

We slowed a little in the last laps as some games began at the top of the field, riders caught their breath and planed their moves. some went a lap early and were brought back in time to allow everyone a full go. In the second last corner Craig Gerber lent his bike off the tires and slid out, nearly taking half his team with him. I was ahead of him and clear and sensed the confusion. I dug deeper and accelerated, but most of the top GC contenders had done the same, Robbie R lead out Clive and I sat the wheel for a while but knew I had to go early and try repeat my move just 5 minutes earlier. I jumped but was closely followed this time, I couldn’t sit up and just had to delve deeper into my reserves and try hold it to the line at full tilt. it was 350m maybe but felt like 3000. My legs were screaming and I couldn’t hang on, as I got taken with 50 meters to go and ended up 7th.

This race was a load of fun though. I hope there are more like it 🙂

Turn One
Running the Gauntlet