I had read about a road crit to be held on the Symonston street circuit that used to be used about 10 years ago. Now, this may come to a shock to many, but I have never raced on the road!
I just haven't made the time to do so in the past. So, I thought that this one seemed appealing and thought I would give it a go.
On Saturday morning I did the standard bakery bunch ride, got some water out at Stromlo, then rode home to chill out and eat some pancakes. This put about 120km into the legs for the morning sessions, which was freakin' cold. It started at minus 3 and didn't get too much better really. It took 10 minutes in the shower to thaw out!
At about 1:45 that afternoon, I kitted up again and rode over to Symonston, which was only about 20km away or so. I got a day license, and watched the end of the C grade lot prior to going for a few laps to figure out the course.
The course started with a flat run into a left hander which then went down hill for 100metres before another left hander at full speed followed by a false flat rise before another left hander at the roundabout, before climbing back up to another left hander which lead to the flat run through the start / finish line. So basically, hammer, left, hammer, coast, fast left, hammer, left, recover up the hill?, left, hammer.
Having never done one of these before I was really just interested in getting a good day out on the bike, with a block of high intensity, and figuring out how these things are raced. First off was the helmet check. Yep, they checked all the helmets for the Australian Standard sticker. Standard I guess.
The start was a pretty quick affair, with about 40 A and B grades combined, and the field soon strung out and the heart rate went up nicely also. We had 35 minutes and 3 laps to do. Some dude I was following after about 2 laps, let the wheel in front of him go, and this opened up a gap of about 30 metres. I decided that wasn't great, so proceeded to slowly get the front pack back. I wasn't in a hurry as it was only in the first 5 minutes, so just slowly worked on the front of the 2nd group for about 3 laps and got it back to about 10 metres, then another dude helped close the rest of the gap down.
After about 25 minutes of turning left and hammering, the Suzuki ACTAS guys sent a couple of pinners up the road. Ben Hill and Brendan Johnston worked together to get the lead extended, whilst the rest of their team mates pretty much just rolled around, which was fine. At the 30 minute mark, I started to make sure that I was heading up to the top 10 placings at the front. With the 3 laps to go sign up, I was nicely sorted in the top 10, which was good, as I assumed that the pace would pick up for the run to the finish line.
The next 3 laps, I just moved up a spot or two each lap and by the final lap, I was at the head of the pack. Not ideal, but not really caring, I pinned it down the descent and set about bringing back the lead 2 riders. Matt Rizzutto came through down on the bottom bit of road and I sat on his wheel a bit to recover. Around the final bend, we had caught Brendan and had got pretty close to Ben, but he was able to hold the pack out for the win. After leading the final lap, I didn't have much left for the sprint, so just rolled the legs over to cross the line. The results said 6th place in A grade. This was about right. Without a timing chip to go by we had to rely on the numbers on the backs of the riders and people remembering where they came!
I had an absolute blast, and will definitely be having another go in the future for sure. After the race I spun the legs out cruising home and ate more pancakes that night. I was pretty tired and fell asleep on the couch watching the Giro highlights at 6:15pm!!