The stakes were raised considerably when I finally took possession of the long awaited new bike. She is lovely - despite being yellow. I'll write much more about her soon.
Last weekend I took the new Nancy out for her first race, a graded scratch race around the schoolhouse circuit three times. We dropped most of the B-grade bunch on the first lap, leaving only four of us. I took the bit between my teeth and blasted off on the hill, halfway through the second lap. Managed to hold off the chasing group for the final 25km.
This week was club winter championships and saw a good turnout, including young Ethan, contesting B-grade after racing with the A's for a couple of months. After busting up the bunch on the first set of hills, the youngsters (Ethan and Sam) weren't too interested in a long break, so refused to do any work. I settled into an even Audax pace, just enough to keep warm, without working. The chase bunch like-wise laid off us by 50 metres, so I just lead the race along at pedestrian pace for the next 20km with an occasional punch over a hill to make sure they were still awake.
Working over the three sisters for the second time, I realised that I was on my own, so gave it the works on the third pinch. Inexplicably the youngsters waited for the main bunch to try to chase me down. That was all the gap I needed. I got to the foot of Sugarloaf Hill with a good couple of hundred metres in hand and pushed over with every drop I had. Then ground out the final 9km on the drops with my heart rate off the chart.
In the end I won by better than 500m but I was never certain until I crossed the finish line.
OK - So much for winning a race. Nice, but how do I feel about it? What's next? What have I learned?
I'll start with the last question. I've learned to stick my neck out, take a chance, back myself. In days gone by, I'd have finished with the bunch to be out-sprinted by almost all of them. On Saturday, I gave it my best shot. I'd have been happy with that decision if I'd been swallowed by the bunch and finished last. Mainly because I'm feeling good about taking a risk, staking my race on a move.
What's next? Hopefully A grade. There's nothing like racing with people who are a lot better to make you better. The Tour of Bright, definitely. The Alpine - this is my big aim for this year, and I'd love to set a decent time for the first ever ACE.
How do I feel about it? Very strange. I've had lots of trouble blogging about it. Almost my entire life as a cyclist has been focused on non-competitive cycling. Even the racing has been more about participation than results. Now it's getting serious, and I want to be the best I can. I'm treading a fine line between being motivated to be the best I can and being motivated by winning. Both are good, but only the first is sustainable long term. Right now I'm really happy looking to the stars, keeping my feet planted on solid ground.
I want to keep enjoying my riding without measuring myself against anyone else.
Both Ethan and Sam who I'm sure were capable of going with me on the day were beaten on the line by one of the old stagers in the bunch Brett. I warned them earlier that Brett would beat them in a sprint. Maybe they'll listen next time. I hope not. ;-)