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Race 2015 Giro de Hotaka - The perfect storm - Part 2

Adam Cobain

Maximum Pace
Jul 1, 2014
I doesn't matter the scale, size or type of race it is, there is always a nervous energy felt across the start line. The awkward laughter, the well wishing, as is the talking down of ones training, ability or the effort that one is about to put in. It is the same from country to country, startline to startline and I am sure from sport to sport.
The riders were released spot on 7am, and to my surprise, some were not even at the startline, but riding into the oncoming 250+ riders as we rolled down the hill. Brave or stupid, I am not sure, but they soon got the picture and awkwardly sidestepped their bikes out of the way. Always a few hubbards!!
We rolled down toward the leaves and I grabbed a nice position behind a rider who was both a good size to draft off and whom also possessed a faster descending speed than the rest. We negociated the leaves and the slippery negative camber left turn over a bridge at the bottom of the 400m startt/finish. My thoughts quickly turned to having to ride back up the same hill in a few hours and what state I might be in. I settled in behind the guy on the white Time, and as the 5km descent opened up we soon negociated the roadworks section where again, I thought of a few hours later a how inconvinient having the wait at those might be. Positioned with less than 2km from the finish, a race winning lead might easily be absorbed by some bad luck. I put it out of mind and told myself that in racing, you make your own luck, and I would be ready.
I looked over my shoulder and saw a bunch about 100m back, one riding in the middle and Time guy and me. Time guy was now starting to slow up as the road leveled, but why, we had a prefect tailwind and could ride at 60kmh+ without even turning the pedals? One of the reasons I love my roadbike is how easy it is go extremely fast, and any oppurtunity to hit 70 or 80kmh must be taken. I rolled past Time guy and put in a few revolutions already in the 11T and was soon on the back of the moto, he sped up quickly and I positioned myself in a super low tuck as my speed went well above 70kmh. It was a nice road for high speed and soon we were dropping down through the town, I looked back and and saw nothing, noone in sight, already? Descision time.

Now, for those that have raced a bit, there is one thing in amateur racing that you will always see. That being, no matter the race, distance or course, somebody, sometimes a few, will roll off the front with the vigour and enthusiasm that the release of adrenaline and pent up nervous energy gives them. The more senior riders watch on, unpreturbed. Within a few minutes the real race begins and these riders are quickly absorbed and put in their rightful place in the bunch, generally toward the back. That is not to say an early attack in useless and shouldn't be attempted. An early attack though requires planning and the right attitude, it must be an all or nothing approach. Total committment and the course, in its early stages, must favour being able to slip off the front and consolidate a good tempo. Corners, climbs and technical courses are best, long straight roads and cross/head winds are not. Think "out of sight, out of mind". You have to gamble on the bunch, are their teams who will ride together, are their individuals who will ride together, or perhaps no organisation at all? The early break can sometimes work to upset the rhythm of the bunch and make riders nervous and it will draw out those who want to ride and they will have to burn a few matches to chase, or sit nervously watching as the break goes for more and more time. Do you jump across, ...or wait?

Now I was that guy, the early solo break. 'the newbie move' and I had to make a decision. I did not attack, just rolled off the front, but had a 15 odd seconds before we hit the first little climb. I made the tight 180degree left hander and as the road turned up, I could see the group extremely stretched out. I climbed the 500m hill section out of the saddle, trying to get the blood pumping and ward off the cold and it was working. The sun was starting to show itself over the top of the eastern hill, and as I entered the ricefields, I settled into a nice tempo, my temp for the day..., low on the bars and scanning the back of the moto; I was feeling good, I was racing my bike, the sun was coming out and I was going to have a good day! ...this is why we do it, these moments are golden. Time to climb. Part 3 - Coming soon
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Maximum Pace
May 29, 2012
Highly entertaining read! Can't wait for the next part.

Extra fun since hotaka is the only race I started (and probably the only I ever will start) in Japan. Man that was a miserable day.

Not going to spoil anything but looking at the strava flyby from the race... Interesting indeed :)
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