Sunday, 7 February 2010

New Circuit - New Challenges and Revelations

New and different things can challenge you in a variety of ways.

Saturday was one such day.

Before Christmas, bike racing at the famous Lakeside International Motor Racing circuit was effectively discontinued when the re-developer priced the circuit out of the market. Like many cyclists, I was disappointed as the circuit provided some real variety to the standard basically flat criterion options available each week in Brisbane.

However, after a great deal of work including lobbying council to arrange road closures, the 102 year old Hamilton Wheelers Club launched a new circuit on 6 February 2010. The circuit was more of a traditional criterion nature with four 90 degree corners and set on normal roads. It is 800 metres in length and has a slight rise on the back straight. In promoting the new venue, it was described as fast and technical.

To me, the word technical is another way of saying dangerous so I was a little reluctant to race without at least first seeing what it looked like. I was a little wary to say the least.

In addition, for various reasons I had not ridden for a week and was thinking I really should be doing something a little more endurance based on Saturday rather than a 40 minute race.

I therefore had some ‘OK’ reasons for not racing at the new circuit.

However I was also challenged by a couple of reasons to race.

The first reason being the person who introduced me to racing was also the person who had done most of the work negotiating the new circuit. I knew he was a little nervous about how it would be accepted and if a sufficient number of cyclists would turn up to make it all viable. I felt an obligation to support him by racing.

At a more ego centric level was a text message a week earlier from Groover suggesting I was becoming the ‘new king of excuses’.

So I turned up, paid my money and pinned on a number.

I had some other concerns too including the simple nature of the circuit would mean it was boring.

The race was anything but boring. It was hard, fast and fun. I loved the format and was particularly pleased to keep with the main group as nearly half the field was dropped off before 30 minutes had elapsed. So I was pretty pleased even though I at no time put myself in a position to contest the podium. I am however claiming a top 10 finish.

A couple of things were revealed however. I was aware that in comparative terms, I was not all that stable cornering and I am not sure if this is me or my equipment (bike, wheels, tyres etc)

To put it into car terminology, I seemed to be somewhat badly understeering through the corners or at least from the apex of the corner through the exit.

It seemed that no matter how I set up the corner, if I went with any speed at all, I ran wide on the exit from the apex.

I chatted to another competitor after the race about my concerns and he suggested I need to get more weight over the front wheel to stop the understeering effec. I will practice over the next 2 weeks before we return to race there again.

However, maybe, just maybe my bike needs to also accept some responsibility. It may be the old frame geometry or the type of wheels and tyres need to accept some responsibility too. After all, the wheels are basically entry level and ‘meant for training’ rather than racing.

Maybe just maybe, I can talk myself into that new bike after all.

The race was fun and I am glad I turned up and pinned on that number. Thanks to Graze and Groover for motivating me to be there.