Well first graded road race was a good new experience. Race started at a nice sedate pace which I was pretty stoked with. If this is all I had to do as a roadie it was going to be an easy day. Regretfully about 10k in we took a turn and were struck by a strong crosswind so some of the heavies went to the front and drilled it. This left me in serious trouble just holding the wheel in front of me. Now from thinking I was in for a cruisey day I had begun to contemplate how painful it could be. Thankfully for me the pace settled down and I managed to sneakily loiter around at the back of the bunch and do as little as possible. I think most people were a bit intimidated by the hills to come.
For the next while quite a few little solo breaks tried to go up the road but these always seemed doomed to failure with the full bunch behind so I never gave them a second thought. In my attempt to make my proper road racing debut as successful as possible I had studied the course profile and noted that it was mainly flat until about halfway. Therefore at about halfway I stopped loitering and slowly made my way towards the front end of the bunch. On a small riser a small split started to form in the bunch, being towards the front and nice and attentive I quickly leaped across the gap to safety. This split came to nothing pretty quickly but at least it made me feel good about my attentiveness.
The race started in earnest when we finally hit a decent hill with Alex Revell animating the race. He lit it up on the first decent hill and left everyone including me scrambling up the road after him. I was in trouble but managed to slowly drift back through the mangled bunch and join back on the downhill. On the next hill that same tactic didn’t work for me again because there was no downhill. I tried my hardest to rejoin with a group of three but blew myself to pieces only to have a larger group of 5 or 6 steam past to rejoin leaving me out the back with one other guy. We managed to sit about 300m off the back of the bunch for about 10k to Kurau hill. Frustratingly close yet agonizingly far away. Kurau was a horrid hill, it went straight up with a strong headwind. I must have been reduced to a cadence of about 40 and zig zagging up part of the hill. I managed to drag myself agonizingly close to the tail end of the remnants of the bunch but on the slow downhill I probably lost all that distance again.
Finally I was confronted with the climb of Admirals road. Just put myself in the box and proceeded to climb past a mixture of B and C grade making most of them feel very ordinary to the point were one even commented I had wings as a danced up of the road. At this point I definitely didn’t feel like I had wings…. more like a couple of bricks in my pockets. I think I managed to pick off at least 10 people on the climb and finished in the big chainring and proceeded to feel rather toasted.