This was my first opportunity since obtaining an OCA license to get out for the famous Midweek Crit series and it was everything I had been promised. As expected, the first race was very large with many riders looking to put in a solid training effort after a short one day rest from the weekend's events.
With registration running long, our race was a touch late starting out so they announced that it would be shorter this week with around 30 minutes of riding and then 10 laps of jockeying for final position.
Well, their was nothing tame about the first 30 minutes as a few guys decided to take it out quick in the second lap and then I got a little boost of energy and hammered a few laps. With the strong winds out of the north bashing us on the tougher (not too tough but relative to the downhill on the other side of the short 1k loop) portion of the oval course, I knew I would be playing with fire trying to maintain my pace so I dropped back into the pack and chilled for a second.
My timing was very poor as the pace picked up again and for a large number of laps and I slowly dropped back deeper and deeper into the massive peloton. Eventually, I settled down and caught my breath and started to look for Richard, Kane, Jon and Kohei to see where they were situated. They all appeared to be playing it smart, hanging just off the front so I tried to get back up in the middle of the action with them.
After a few more laps of edging up through the crowd, I was surprised to hear we only had 9 more laps. Once again, the pace picked up and I moved even closer to the front to see what was going to unfold. By the time we received the 8 lap sign, I had joined the pointy end of the group (with one guy in a break only a few seconds ahead). As we hit the back side of the track, I pushed past Kohei to allow him some rest and then decided to keep on the pace to catch the break, thinking he may work with me to get away.
When I caught him on the up slope, he didn't seem too interested in holding that speed any longer so I just moved past him and kept my head down. My effort was pretty solid but it wasn't long before I had the entire peloton following my lead. Oh well, I tried.
I figured I was already in TT mode so why not just go with it, burn out some other legs and hope one of my buddies could take the win. I am no where near a sprinter so I knew if it came down to a sprint, I would be dusted so I might as well have some fun with this.
I continued to pull the group along as I counted down the laps. 6, 5, 4 and then 3 before the others finally had enough of me leading the race. I was just starting the small climb up to the start/finish line (with the lap 2 sign in the RD hands) when the masses made their move and swallowed me up, literally pushing me back through the pack.
My legs were blasted by now so I was not sure if I should try a quick recovery or just fade out of the race. I caught on to the end of the large lead group and tried to rest one lap. I could see things were starting to get exciting up front but knew I would not have the power to enjoy a top ten but wanted to make a final charge. On my second last climb up the hill, I got a little closer to the front and put in a decent effort over the last portion but was in no shape to contend with those guys on this night. I happily hung on with a middle of the lead pack finish and found out the rest of the boys had solid results so my efforts were not a lost cause.
This weekly race is definitely something I will re-visit. It was a little confusing trying to figure out who was still in contention as you are able to rest and rejoin the race if you fall off the back but the problem I saw was guys I noticed resting for a few laps (and then jumping back in) were back in the mix for the sprint at the end. The rule clearly states that you should not re-join that close to the front but I think several riders are just not concerned with rules. Add this to the ongoing 'yellow line" violations during weekend races, and you can see there is a major issue with the integrity within participants of the sport.