I was all packed and ready to go, had just tucked into my peanut butter sandwich, sipping on my hot black coffee, when Munier arrived at 04h20 to pick me up. Wind had dropped down, and weather was looking good for Die Burger race.
We arrived in Stellenbosch at 05h20 and the vibe was AWESOME. All over people were unpacking their bikes, taking in their pre race drinks and snacks, applying sun block, and heading off for last minute pee breaks before making their way to their respective start chutes.
Being part of the cyclists in the starting chutes is an experience to be cherished. The nervous banter, perving over the latest frames, wheels and other bits. Checking out the form of those around you, trying to pick out who you need to hang with and whose wheels you want to sit on.
06h04 A Group start gun is fired and we are off.
Pace was hard off the start. Within 3 minutes we hit the 3.8% climb up Helshoogte. The 20 min climb was at 96%HRM @ 280W. I rode well with the bunch and was happy with my performance up the climb and with my bunch riding in the first hour. Thereafter my legs just no longer had the same amount of power. I got dropped off the bunch, to be picked up by the next, I hung with them for some minutes only to be spat out again, and so it went bunch after bunch. I became rather demoralised when the B start group passed me and I could not hold onto them either.
First 20min power 280W, next 20min 215W, next 20min 205W, remainder of race 185W (avg) So these tell the story of starting way to hard, feeling great in the first hour, then ever fading legs thereafter.
The question is however, do I situp and ease off and lose the group leaders in the first 20min, so that I have stronger legs in the latter part of the race? The fact of the matter that I need to accept is that at my current level of fitness and power, I am not going to beat the group leaders, so trying to hang with them when the effort hots up is only going to prevent me from finishing stronger in the middle of the group.
My race was nevertheless a good one. Last year's finish time was 3h09, this year was 2h52, a substantial improvement. Last year I started in F group, this year I made it to A Group, based on season race perfomances.
Now it is 10 days complete rest off the bike, then Summer race season starts. Yeehaa !!!