Pain and Racing Speed

The Race That Didn’t Happen – Spaarnwoude

Home » Pain and Racing Speed » The Race That Didn’t Happen – Spaarnwoude

If a tree falls down and there is no one to hear it, does it still make a sound?

No matter how much I kept pushing it, it just didn’t want to do anything. I hit it, I banged it, still no response. Sunday morning races are supposed to bring excitement to this otherwise dull part of the week. This Sunday certainly had an interesting start to it, fortunately it had a very good ending packed in as well.

It was almost 4 weeks before it was all business (aka training specific) and no fun (aka racing), so I was eager to get some last racing kilometers in. So where to go, where to go, waaaay too many choices. Spaarnwoude, 1:35h criterium, smooth tarmac and not too technical, 10am every Sunday morning. Sign me in!

Spaarnwoude Race Cricuit
Spaarnwoude Race Cricuit

A teammate was also heading that way. The more the merrier, I count having someone to talk to during the 1h ride to the course – a definite plus.

So at 8:45 on those rare sunny days in Amsterdam we set off in a casual pace towards Spaarnwoude Wieler Circuit. The fact that you only have 3 sunny days (ok maybe 5) per year makes you enjoy them even more and consider them better than a miracle of nature. Unfortunately, little things can ruin such a perfect day in the making. The start/stop button of my Garmin bike computer was unresponsive. No matter how much physical (and verbal) convincing I threw at it, it just didn’t want to start recording data. Murphy’s Law suggests that things go wrong at the worst possible moment, so the end of a 8 month training block is the perfect time to not have the opportunity to see if all that hard training has paid off…or not.

On top of that the wind has decided to be in a head direction towards the circuit and combined with the fact that my messenger back kept sliding sideways on my shoulder, so I had to adjust it every 5 pedal strokes didn’t make things any easier. Thankfully a group of cyclists on a Sunday morning stroll provided me and my teammate with some shelter.

My heartrate was dangerously creeping towards race values, I was sweating a LOT and I still had a race to go to. What did I get myself into??!?!?

We finally arrived with 20minutes to spare. Things were starting to look up. I changed out my sweat soaked undershirt, took off my tights; I didn’t need a warm up, I was already too hot!!! I drank a small can of Coke to get in the caffeine and sugars I would be needing once the start gun went off. I went to the judges table, got my number and pinned it on my right side as normal. Plenty of time to spare and stretch my legs so I decided to go and give my Garmin one last try to get it working. Maybe the sun fixed whatever suspected water damage was there.

No such luck…Oh well at least I can see momentary data.

Multiple Heart Rate monitors detected! Multiple Power Meters detected!

With those two warnings my Garmin started beeping uncontrollably. Seirously??? I thought that is why heart rate straps and power meters had unique IDs, so that computers don’t go wandering off looking for everything that comes close to them

Screw it all. I am going old school. I switched everything off and put time of day at the center of the display. I had about 7minutes before the official start of the race so perfect time to stroll around the 3km (~1.8mi) course to get to know the corners. With casual deliberation I started rolling past the start with the other competitors.

Number 41, your number is on the wrong side!!!

Whaaat? I mean is anything gonna go my way today? Of all the races I have done the number was always supposed to be pinned on the right side of your shirt. Not today I guess… I sat down on the grass next to the starting line and carefully re-positioned the pins holding my number down. After I was finished I looked up and the 70+ cyclist field was already lining up. I reaaaaly hoped the course was pretty straight forward so I don’t get spat out from the back on Lap 1.

10:05 am and we set off. The speed in the first lap was quite casual and as we made our way through the wide corners in the woods that surrounded the course as one big group, nobody was attacking. As soon as Lap 1 was finished the front of the race exploded. Early breakaway? Sure why not and after a little bit of power I was in it. We were brought back quickly. I don’t remember how many attempts exactly but all of them were short lived. Boy did I have the legs!!!

On the last one the peloton swallowed me voraciously and I was at my least favorite spot – the middle of the bunch with no wiggle room in any direction. Nobody was giving up their spot. The 180 degree switchbacks, had riders trying to pass me and yelling at me to get out of the way as they were cutting the corners from the inside. No matter what I did, I seemed to be stuck in the middle. If I wanted to get anything decent out of this race I had to get my nose in the front. The pace was high almost the whole time so if we weren’t pedaling through the corners accelerations were fast and furious. Getting to the front seemed like mission impossible. At least no group was able to break away.

Fatigue was imperceptibly creeping in. Every once and a while someone would weave just a touch more out of a corner, causing everybody around him to slam the brakes and than accelerate again to regroup and waster precious energy. One rider almost got all of the spokes of his front wheel caught up in the rear derailleur of the cyclist in front of him. I gotta get out of the middle…fast…if I want to avoid anything worse. Slowly and steadily as the minutes kept ticking I clawed my way towards the front third of the peloton. With 10 minutes to go it was everybody together and everybody checking each other out. By the looks of it, a sprint finish was inevitable.

The bell announcing the last lap rang as we zoomed past the finish line for the last time. Non-sprinters were trying to turn the odds in their favor. With half a lap left the peloton spilled across the whole width of the course. My teammate tried to squeeze in the small gap on the right and I tried to follow.

I slammed the brakes to avoid becoming intimate withe the rear of his bike frame. Nobody was getting out of the way. I could see the last 180 degree turn before the finish.

And it went crazy and started splitting. Everybody wanted that inner part of the corner. I took it wide and I was zooming past the field. Unfortunately the road straightened out and whoever had any sprint in them went off. I finished with the front group at 21st place. Not bad for a total non-sprinter like myself. All is well that ends well, shame I didn’t have a record of what happened during the race.

As me and my teammate rolled easy with the tailwind on the way back, it was a beautiful sunny day. Every time I stood up to stretch my legs the were starting to cramp painfully. Boy I really had the legs and I pushed them hard…I really wished to have data to put my legs into numbers. Next time=)

I count the whole experience as a success and this race concluded the first part of my 2013 racing season and for now my cycling/racing in The Netherlands.




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