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Not bad

Jubas's picture

By Jubas - Posted on 05 May 2014

Re: This ride meeting: 
Convict 100 2014
Position (Overall): 
Race Category: 
50km Male Sub Veteran
Position (Category): 

Well, this race was very much a last minute entry for me given I missed out on the Shimano 4 hour race at St James Estate the previous weekend due to flu. I'd not ridden the Convict before, but had heard that the 50km version was more a test of fitness than finesse. Still, with a holiday coming up, I thought it was a good opportunity to get in one last race before unwinding on a beach in Zanzibar

In the lead-up to the race, I'd been spending far more time on the roadie than the MTB, and it really paid dividends. My target was the top 25% of the race - last year, this would have required a time of about 2:20 or better, so that was what I was aiming for. I lined up in the second group of starters and bumped into a couple of other Dulwich Hill riders (my roadie club) which was nice. Given the first wave seemed quite small, we made the last minute call to join them and I'm glad we did.

The first road section was fast and furious, but well within my limits. I struggled to find a bit of wind protection given my 6'2" frame and constantly had to surge forward to find riders I could huddle behind. The pace was fast and the bunch relatively tight. It was incredibly un-nerving to see riders ahead of me slip and slide across some of the gravel. If they went down, it would have been a nasty mess.

We made it to the bottom of the KOM and people quickly unclipped. I rode up about the first third and then made the decision to save my legs for later, so walked the rest of the way. People were much quicker at walking their bikes up the hill than me - is this a practice thing?

I had read previously that the Convict was a race where you wanted to race in a bunch - co-operate and get a faster time. Upon reaching the top of the KOM, there were only a few people behind me, and no one ahead. Instead of waiting, I powered on to find riders to work with ahead. I found some, but none seemed that interested in working together. So, I settled into a sort of timetrial mode and kept my HR within reason. The rear sensor of my garmin clearly died as after an hour of riding, my distance was showing as 12km. It made pacing incredibly difficult, so I was happy to see the drinks station come quickly - I knew that was 28km, and I had about 10km left of undulating fire trail.

Eventually I popped out onto the final road section. Into a massive headwind. Alone. I swore to myself quite loudly. I knew this was a section where you really, really, didn't want to be isolated. I had a rider about 50 metres behind me and couldn't see anyone ahead. I slowed a bit and waited for the rider to catch me, asking if he wanted to swap turns on the front. I'm not sure what his exact answer was, but it came in the sound of a grunt. Clearly, this wasn't going to work. Instead, I went into roadie mode, ducked into an aero-tuck and powered ahead in the hopes of catching a group working together.

I caught a group of three about a km down the road and moved to the front to do a turn. I could see they were struggling so eased up a bit, but after a while, they'd dropped off the back of my wheel. Sigh. I thought i'd try and power ahead to catch the next group. Head down, teeth gritted, as aero as I could make myself - well and truly in the pain cave. I caught the next group and had the same situation - by this point I was thinking 'wtf, have I fallen really far back in the field, and am catching the slower riders?' I ended up leaving this group behind and resigned myself to coming in solo - I could see the clock counting down to 2:20 and dug deep for the long haul.

About a few KMs later I heard the sound of crunching dirt behind me and saw just in time two riders coming through at a good pace, clearly working together. My legs were already screaming at me, and I could feel the lactic acid burning, but I knew I had to get onto the back wheel of these two riders - travelling about 5-10km/hr faster. I shifted to the smallest cog and sprinted out of the saddle, absolutely hell for leather and just caught on. Funnily enough, this was when I set my peak HR for the race. I joined the other two for a couple of KMs, and felt a little bad - as soon as I pulled into the wind to take my turn, my speed dropped, so the other two riders resigned themselves to just having a passenger. Sorry guys!

A couple of KMs from the end (I still wasn't sure when this was due to my Garmin not working!) the three of us were tootling along at a nice pace. We turned a right hand corner and into a hill - the other two clearly knew the track and had shifted accordingly, because I was clearly not ready - still in the smallest cog on the back. As the other two pulled away up the seriously short incline, my legs just exploded and I couldn't hold on. Disaster! Agony! I had about 2 minutes to hit my target time and no idea how far from the end I was!

Again, I gritted my teeth and got into my tuck.. the dirt road became tarmac, the tarmac started to show parked cars, I knew I couldn't be far. I dropped into the smallest cog for one last pull, rounding the last corner and sprinting out of the saddle across the line. The time? 2:20:30.

Thirty seconds off my target.

"F*** Off"

Feeling a little dejected at having missed my target time by such a small margin I rued the consequences of being isolated on that last road section. My nutrition had worked well, I had energy left in the legs, and I'd tried to race smart. Bah. 30 seconds. Bah!

Sunday came and the results were posted online.. it turns out that the race had been slower overall than last year, and I'd actually beaten my goal of being in the top 25% by some margin - much closer to the top 18%! Disappointment turned into glee, turned into making sure I wasn't doing something wrong with the results website! I was over the moon - by far my best result in terms of the overall field for any 50km race i'd done yet. Clearly all the 5am mornings for a ride on the roadie before work paid off!

Not bad - not bad at all!

jp's picture

Nice writeup Jubas, I could feel your pain on that final road section - no fun on your own at all. Well done hitting your goal!

Jubas's picture

Thanks JP - I thoroughly enjoyed your write up as well!

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