Claire Martin’s first road race of 2012

Claire writes … Broken bike parts don’t make for a restful week, and too much rest is a bad thing…

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What I learnt (part 1)

The run up to the B race at Gifford (click here for the results) didn’t go smoothly when my left hand shifter broke four days before the race. The next four nights were spent stressing about it and trying to get it fixed. Huge thanks to The Bike Chain for loaning me a spare. It finally got sorted on Friday night and I had a huge energy crash in relief and I felt pretty horrible.

The broken shifter had also meant a lot more rest than planned and my body didn’t seem to like so much rest combined with the stress about the bike; I ached from head to toe. A sports massage helped but I could have done with a gentle ride and some yoga but life had other plans! I’ve been using my ithlete – an app that monitors resting heart rate and heart rate variability (hrv) – and it’s been interesting to note that I respond to light training/active recovery better than complete rest – both my hrv and hr levels are lower this morning than they were a week ago with lots of rest!

Early signs that the day wasn’t going to go to plan
During the warm up ride on Saturday morning, I knew I was in trouble. My legs felt weak, they wouldn’t warm up, my heart rate wouldn’t go up and I just felt like I had nothing in the tank or in my legs. I also had no nerves at all, and I know from experience a few nerves on the start line is a good thing.

I was hydrated, rested and well fed so, on paper, I should have been feeling great. But it wasn’t to be. I didn’t feel bad enough not to race, I just didn’t feel strong. Bad days on the bike happen and I’ve not had one in months. Should I not have raced? I don’t know. But I do know that my Honey Stinger chews which have never failed to give me an energy boost did nothing for my legs either. The worst bit about having nothing in my legs, was turning up for the club run the next day and feeling FANTASTIC. I was back to feeling strong, on form and with bags of energy. Its a shame that I had to have a bad day on the bike for the first race of 2012, but at least it wasn’t a priority race.

The race itself
Mistake number two was not getting a good position at the start of the race. Despite my good intentions of placing myself near the middle/front of the bunch, I found myself at the back on the start line. Not a good place to be when I needed as many wheels as I could find. There’s a lot to learn when it comes to road racing and I’m on a steep learning curve of things not to do!

The neutralised start was fine, I was hanging at the back of the bunch but avoiding sitting on the wheel in front of me as the bloke was all over the place and I didn’t trust him. This was also a mistake (but then I think I’d have been involved in a crash if I’d have sat on his wheel as he nearly took my boyfriend out by swerving into him for no reason, so, when the race really began, the speed upped and I started to sprint to keep up.

However, not feeling good and the gap between me and the bloke in front wasn’t a good combination. I couldn’t bridge the gap and it was game over. I was really disappointed as I know from training that I’m capable of a much better performance and sprint but it wasn’t my day.

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