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A Perfect Day

The Lou Reed song ‘A Perfect Day’ sums up the first outing of the Masters 2 Kapiti Cycling Club teams race of the North Island Cycle Team Series.

The perfection not only included a fantastic team performance, but God woke up having fallen out the right side of the bed and gave us a stunning day of serene calm and lucid clear blue skies.

We plan with intent and expectation.  ‘Yeah, I’m going to attack at the 57.8 km mark, holding my power at 300 watts and I’m going to hold it through to the finish, where if I’m with anyone else, I’ll sit up in contemptuous ease, and smash it with a ferocious sprint to take the win’. 

Yeah and Donald Trump is a well reasoned President who treats women with grace and integrity and is leading the charge against global warming.

Very rarely in the multivariable space of cycling racing do plans actually come to fruition.  I recall the remarkable planned and executed stage in last years Giro when Chris Froome launched a crazy attack 80 km from the finish, with steep risky descents, a TT to the base of the final mountain climb where, with his typically mad frenetic Froome-like spinning, he took over 3 mins out of his rivals to win the stage and ultimate GC victory.  Sky staff, including head honcho Dave Brailsford, were on the route to feed him as he launched his solo madness.  It brought us back to the glorious days of cycling, before power-meters and the clinical management of the peloton, where outrageous attacks could actually succeed.  They rarely do now.  Check out the stage report here:   

Now Mike Proudfoot isn’t quite Chris Froome, (and if he was I would invite him over for my secret stash of beer, whisky, and steak pies).  But Mike is flying and he was our trump card, our Ace of Spades and he rode it in this race. Care of Team captain Paul Rawlinson we had this strategy (please read the footnote 1 which is Paul’s PhD analysis of our approach to the race. I forget to email back Paul that my highly strategic approach to the race; ’Hang onto the fu*ken bunch’).  Supporting this is Mike’s own post-analysis of the race, footnote 2, and it is fascinating to see how well our team executed...  They are longish pieces but will help give you insight into the strategy and the race.  Well worth it.

Unfortunately, I missed all the action, and I will excuse myself from any meaningful engagement with the sharp end of the race and my rather sad team contribution - as all I did, and I mean this in all seriousness, is literally hang on to the end of the peloton.  After the first 10 kms the speed was so intense I was about to throw in the towel.  My excuse is a new life with Sunday morning sleep-ins, poached eggs, a crossword and quizz, and coffee with my lovely new partner.  A rock n roll lifestyle hasn’t probably helped with gigs that compromise any hint of ‘recovery’, but I bike for mental health, and loved the thrill of the speed and intensity of this race.  Maybe I will actually race more than every 2 years.  But man I was so happy to come in last of our bunch.  In my mind, I had won.  For the race around the Lake, I averaged 39.69 km’s with an average heart rate of 141 bpm (with a maximum of 171 right at my limit).  Yes, I suffered!

But enough of me - I need to introduce our fabulous team

So please enjoy the views of Paul, Mike, and Katie. 





Footnote 1 - Paul Rawlinson's pre-race strategic overview.

Hi All.

I hope this finds everyone fit and well.

Tomorrow is the first race, and as it's a team race, well, we need a team plan. Hopefully, for the other races we'll be able to get a plan together a bit beforehand, but as this is the first wone and we're feeling our way a bit, here's my take on what we have, what we can expect, and a focus for tomorrow's event.

Race 1

Team roles

It is a team series, and that means in each race each member has a number of roles to fulfill, with a main focus.

Just looking at race 1, and after talking with most of you at some point, here are my 'suggestions' for team Roles :-)

Janice and Adrian. Both A and J have told me they don't feel at peak form yet, and for Janice at least this is a different arena, a different style of racing that needs acclimatising to. So both A and J should spend this whole race working on holding position in the bunch in the 3rd - 4th row of the peloton, out of the wind as much as possible. Move to the very front at the foot of the 2 hills (one at the bottom of the lake, one with 12 k to go) and use the length of the bunch to retain contact.

Paul and Leon and Perky to ride guard, in the front 2-4  rows of the peloton contributing where necessary with a focus on keeping the ride together until the turn at the bottom of the lake. After the bottom of the lake we will be looking to get Mike into a breakaway, preferably with Huyb and/or Brent B. This will be a tough day out, following moves, and then if and when Mike gets in a break, patrolling the front to keep the speed of the peloton just below that of the breakaway and covering any dangerous-looking counterattacks. Ideally we want 4-6 guys off the front including Mike. Leon probably has enough firepower to do well in a break at the minute also. If a large break (>10 riders) gets away without team Kapiti players, then it will be up to Paul, Leon, Perky, Dave and Mike to try to bring it back. Hopefully, we won't find ourselves in that position though!

Kate should hide in the bunch for as much of the race as possible. Staying close enough to the front to react if opportunity presents, but an ideal finish scenario is that we have Mike up the road to take early points, and then Kate to take points from the front of the bunch gallop.

Mike and Dave should hide in the bunch for the first half of the race, but be attentive for any breaks with Steve, Brent, or Huyb in them. Mike P and Dave, I don't want to see your face in the wind at all for the first 50k. You have been told!

Final 10k.

Ideally, all team members will be present and correct at the front of the main peloton with 10k to go. Whether there is a breakaway or not, team roles revert to protecting the sprinters Paul and Kate. The idea then is to keep the pace high enough that breakaways are discouraged, increasing the pace over the last 5 k so that with 1 k to go the pace is very high. On the road, we will organise a leadout if that is going to be the order of the day.

It would be ideal to all meet up at 9.15 at Glynis/s transport to put spare wheels and clothing in the car, and to go over roles and capabilities.

Good luck to all.

Remember, everyone has a plan until the pedals start turning :-)

Footnote 2 - Mike Prodfoots race comment.

Paul had written the plan and it sounded great on paper! For my part the biggest worry was whether I would have the race legs with the K2 training load I had been throwing at them. A quick two day taper probably wasn't ideal! Also, it was always going to be hard to curb my natural instinct to ride from the front and sit in as much as possible for the first 50k or more. I remember thinking as we were on the start line I hope I don't miss the break when or if it comes and I also hope my legs are up to it!

Essentially I did as I was instructed all the way down the to the bottom of the lake. I do find it hard sitting in the middle of a high-speed peloton, especially when it can be a bit sketchy with such a big field. It was really good to see all the Kapiti crew going well around me especially Janice and Katie who were both looking very comfortable. Leon had an early dabble off the front for while with one of the BDO riders but there were limited small attacks that would get shut down pretty quickly. At the bottom of the lake, I did move forward for the little climb as we turned and was pleased I climbed to the front comfortably enough when Huib and a couple of the other stronger WCNI guys put a bit of a dig in.

There were a couple of small attacks for the next few k's through the rollers heading back towards Martinbrough which the team covered when needed. I was starting to think it might come down to the edge hill climb to see if there would be a break or maybe it would come down to a bunch sprint. It was then Paul and I noticed Glenn Kirk had drifted off the front and was around 800 meters up the road. We then saw a Fitlab rider trying to bridge across who I suspected could be Huib. They are both very strong riders who can time trial so with the nod from Paul I was on my way to try and join them! I noticed Leon on the front as I went clear and thought that's good,  as I knew he would try and ease the pace so I would have a good chance to bridge on my own. It seemed to be taking Huib quite a while to get to Glenn and after a solid initial full gas effort, I was pretty close to both of them. I took a few seconds seated to recover and a quick glance to check no one had come with me before standing again to close the last hundred meters or so.

Once I got across I went past Huib giving him a nod and immediately went to the front and took a good strong pull. Initially Glenn questioned the idea of trying to go over 25k to the finish but Huib and I were really keen so we all committed knowing that all our teammates would be trying to diffuse the chase as much as possible which I found out later Paul and the rest of team Kapiti did a great job of doing!

We lapped out hard into the slight headwind all the way back to Martinbrough taking short 15 to 20 second pulls which kept the pace nice and high. We had around 50 seconds over the peloton as we turned for Featherston and the slight wind became more of a cross tail.

We continued to work really well together with all three of us taking good hard turns to the base of edge hill. Up until now not much had been said apart from the odd word of encouragement but we did have a quick chat that we should just tempo up the climb together as we were all starting to feel the stress of our efforts and we couldn't afford to drop anyone at this stage. A quick glance back as we went over the top and I couldn't see the chasing pack but I found out from Paul they just saw us and the teams not in the break hit the climb hard lead by BDO. Checking the times on strava later we had lost over 20 seconds of our lead on that climb!

Huib got us going full gas again with a big strong pull once over the climb which helped gain a bit of time back as the chasing pack eased briefly to catch its breath. We were down to just under 12k to the finish and with around 40 seconds of lead, it was going to be tight!

My heart rate had been between 170 and 180 for the last 20 mins and we had over another 15 mins to go. I have to admit there was a bit of doubt my legs would last but no point in giving it away now so I pushed through for another hard turn knowing that Glenn and Huib were giving it there all to and we just had to suffer for a little bit longer and the win would be ours. For the next few K's after each turn on the front I would have a quick glance back to see if I could judge the distance to the chasers but I never really got a read on it so I just gave up and concentrated on lapping as hard and smooth as I could.

As we went past the 3k to go sign I think we all started to believe we could make it and we pushed a little harder again. As I went through for my next turn I yelled all the way to the line lads just to make sure there wouldn't be any thoughs of turning on each other at this late stage!

Any drop in our pace which had been well over 40k's an hour for most of the time since our escape would result in being caught agonisingly close to the line. As the tight corner to the finishing straight came into view i had a quick glance back and I could see the pack was closing but we should make it so long as we get around the corner safely! I was just lapping over the top when the corner came upon us which I was happy about as I could pick a nice line. Not known for my bike handling and cornering ability I actually managed to get through it pretty quick and I opened up a few bike lengths lead over Glenn and Huib who must have been a bit more cautious. In hindsight I probably should have taken the gap they gave me, hit the gas for the line and rolled the dice but the fact it was over 400 meters to the line and my legs were almost shot to pieces made me think it was not the best option. Instead, a eased back and tried to time my sprint to grab a wheel as they tried to jump me.

Unfortunately, as Glenn went first to my right, Huib went hard on the outside of him. I managed to catch onto Glenn but Huib was gone on the outside and best I could do was chase Glenns wheel home.

We were all stoked to have made the breakaway stick and there were Handshakes all round. All three of us had given it everything we had so it was extremely satisfying. Just then the fast finishing paleton came through and was awesome to see Katie take the bunch sprint for 4th just as Paul had planned! An excellent result for Katie and also for our team points. Pretty much the rest of the team rolled in with the bunch with everyone having done the job required. A fantastic start to the series.

On reflection later despite a little bit of regret over the final sprint, I was elated to make the Podium for the first time in this series after 3 years of racing. It really is a bit of a step up from club level racing and is a great platform to learn and hone your racing skills.

Footnote 3, Katie’s comment on her great ride.

For my part in the team: Part 1, I was tasked with hiding in the wheels as much as possible and staying out of trouble, unless we could get someone up the road, then I was to help with patrolling the front to help the breakaway establish.

Part 2: get my arse to the front in the closing kilometres and make sure that I was in the best position for the sprint finish. Simple!! Yeah, right…

So the first few Kms found me at the back and so I gradually moved up through the filed and tried to stay in the first 15 to 20 wheels, easier said than done on those narrow roads with some big burly guys with fresh legs…

Towards the turn on to the East/West access Rd, I saw that Leon was off the front and so I went to the front to try and slow the Peloton’s roll.

He managed a bit of time out front with probably 15-20 seconds at the peak.

He was reeled in by, I think, the lower part of the first climb on the East/West access Rd, and so Normal service resumed of me hiding and trying to stay out of trouble.

Bout 10km, I think, out of Martinborough, I cruised up to the front to find that the break had been established with three off the front and Mikey in their midst. So I was then employed to patrol the front and thwart any chasers as best possible, to which, given the ire shown towards Paul and I from the Capital cycles guys, I guess we were succeeding.

Leaving Martinborough, I was told by our Road Captain to get my arse to the front before the narrow bridge before edge hill, so that I could ensure that I was able to sag climb and not get dropped, I think I got to the top in the top 20, so job done but I was a bit on the redline at that stage…

For the run in to the finish, the break was still up the road and the pace was hotting up, and the focus shifted to job number 2. With 5 km to go, Paul told me to get into position.

I had pre-ridden and scoped out the finish corner, and straight, and picked my point to launch, and planned to be in third wheel at through the last corner.

Somehow I went into the turn about 5th, but came out in third.

Stood up to get back on to the wheel of the 2nd place guy, and then sat down as I was way short of my launch point, 2nd towed me up to the guy leading out the sprint, and when I got to my mark, I popped and was able to come around the both of them with maybe 100mm in the bike through on the line, for 4th, at least that’s what it looked like from my bike…

Huge thanks to the team, for an awesome day out!!