Today was the annual Snowy Wilson Memorial criteriums open racing carnival hosted by RBCC at Heffron Park, Maroubra (one of Sydney's beachside suburbs). As is typically the case at Heffron, the wind was blowing - and it was pretty strong Southerly today, making the long home straight a real slog fest. With 10 corners per lap, Heffron is a real tester of a circuit, with handling skills combined with race nouse and brut power needed to be successful. The race format was graded scratch crits, followed by an all-in handicap criterium.
What's a Handicap Criterium?The handicap crit format is where riders of all grades race together, with graded bunches sent off at different times. First past the post wins. So the front bunches are trying to stay away while the back markers are chasing hard. It means groups have to work together well in order to maximise their chances of catching and/or staying away. It is very different to scratch racing - we'll see the difference in the race power stats.
Race #1 - Team tactics take their toll
My first race was the Mens Masters A/B grade scratch race. I commented last week that this was likely to be a team dominated affair. Well I was right with team riders taking turns to attack forcing the rest of us to cover moves constantly. During that early softening up period, being a bit jack of the tactics I countered a couple of times myself but of course the teams chase you down.... With Easts riders attacking until one, John Kenny, got away with Liam Kelly (SCC), then it was simply a matter for the rest of the Easts boys to mark the counters and generally spoil the chase effort. Still, I had a go where possible but we just couldn't overhaul the front two. The large field was pretty well shelled by now and the chasing bunch was eventually down to about 8 riders. Liam Kelly (a former World Masters Crit Champion) ended up winning the day. I managed top 5 or so (can't really recall) after trying another surge with 2.5km to go (and getting caught).
Then I had a couple of hours to kill before the next race, so with a few mates we rode up to Queens Park for a cafe stop and a quick bite to eat/drink. Then back to Heffron for Round 2!
Race #2 - At the Handicapper's Mercy
I felt good in this race - since you have to work more together as a bunch, there is less surging and little likelihood of attacks happening, so while you are on the power all the time, it is less taxing mentally. Having said that, it seemed to me the pace was insufficient to overhaul the front bunches, so I thought, hell why sit back - it's not that big a race, so I just put myself up the front and drove hard. Unfortunately not all could come with me, so I was constantly finding myself having to ease off and go back to the bunch.... The best method is for the group to roll over like a TTT but not everyone is willing and/or capable on the day, so sometimes a few have to take charge. Well we swept up all but one rider and had not been caught ourselves by the A-grade scratch markers, so everyone else thought - we've got this guy in our sights, no need to hammer now. Boy were they wrong. He held on for the win and good luck to him. It served our bunch right - all those glory boy sprinters not doing enough work and missing out on the big cheque.
I placed 5th overall (after starting the sprint a bit early in the headwind and having the glory boys roll me), which in this race was a podium spot and some prize money to boot. Sponsor doubles our prize monies, so I asked it be donated to the Multiple Sclerosis Societies' fund raising ride to the 'Gong, being ridden by a couple of club members next weekend.
Special thanks to Stan, who rode a strong last couple of laps to give me a break before the finale. Onya mate!
Race Day Stats:CTL: 94
TSB: 0 recovery week - thanks coach ;)
MMAS A Grade Scratch Crit (5th place or so?):
Avg Power: 295 Watts
Norm Power: 338 Watts
NZAP: 320 Watts (8% coast time)
All in Handicap Crit (5th place - podium):
Avg Power: 310 Watts
Norm Power: 338 Watts
NZAP: 328 Watts (5% coast time)
Normalised & Average Power
Note how Normalised Power was exactly the same for both races, yet Race #1 had an Average Power 15 Watts less than race #2. This is a perfect example of how comparing Normalised and Average Powers is a great means by which to assess the physical demands of two quite different race types.
Normalised Power takes into account the highly variable nature of power output and is a clever means to provide an estimate of what average power you could have attained had you ridden the same course at a steady pace (rather than the surge then coasting style of riding common in a crit or road race). It also enables you to sensibly compare the physical demands of quite different rides/races.
So what this is telling me is that I rode both 30 minutes races with a Normalised Power of 328 Watts but my average power in Race #1 was less as the nature of the race involved much more coasting (after surges and attacks) than Race #2 which was a smoother effort. So it looks like I put in a pretty good effort in both races!
A more detailed explanation of Normalised Power can be found here.
All up, another successful day's racing and power numbers are looking good (especially average power numbers which are up near all time highs).
Always nice to get some prize money too!
This coming week I do a performance test - a 16km TT. Hoping to set another power PB. Wish me luck....