Type 1 Cycling

Type 1 Cycling

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Bet Guvrin Race

We had really good preparation as a team for this years Beit Guvrin race. Three weeks before and one week before the race had ridden the course. With the middle week focused on climbing. All in all I felt that I was arriving ready to do my best on a course not ideal for my abilities. I had expected the whole peloton to fracture early on with the climbs and at best expected to finish in a follow group. Skip to the end to see the video of the final few kilometers.

The week of the race I was in training Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. We had some good technique days on Monday, focusing on cornering at speed, and Tuesday doing cyclocross. Wednesday we spun our legs but I was not feeling like I had much power. I rested on Thursday and Friday and made sure my sugars were nice and balanced during the week. I tried a new method this time. I ate plenty of carbs during the week with the right amount of insulin. This would store away the sugars as glycogen and make them available during the race (in theory). The night before I didn’t eat more carbs than normal and made sure to keep my sugars balanced so I woke up at a good level on the morning of the race. For the race day I planned a new strategy, to take more insulin than normal and have plenty of gels on me, using my Dexcom sensor to indicate when I needed them.

Well that was the plan anyway.

Friday night was spent at friends. I was pretty bad about not eating too much and probably should have had one less glass of wine. I got to bed at about 11pm with everything ready for the morning.

The alarm went off at 420am and after 5 hours of sleep I was ready to press snooze and rollover, but today was race day so that was not happening. I got ready, made some coffee and went downstairs where Marc and Alon were waiting for me. We loaded the bikes onto the car and set off. We arrived in good time to find decent parking, and braved the freezing cold weather. The advice I had been given was to warm up in warmer clothes and strip off a couple of layers before the start of the race. In practice this was a bit more tricky I wanted to make sure I did a good warm up. I also did not have enough time to warm up and go back to the car. I opted for a thermal base layer, my long sleeve jersey, my thickest leggings, beanie, shoe covers and short finger gloves. The reason for the glove choice was because I needed to operate my sensor to tell me my sugar level and to get food out of my pockets, all easier with fingerless gloves. I set off on my warm up, doing a couple of repeats of the finishing climbs at high cadence. I was freezing. My Garmin read 1 degree above zero and I had no sensation in my fingers.
The peloton coming up the hill for the first time
After my warm up I was feeling a bit better but my hands were still cold. I line up on the start line with Marc waiting for the faster riders to start. Elite and junior boys went first, followed by masters pro (Alon's) group and elite women. Then was our turn, junior girls, 19 - 29 and 30+ men. Next to us on the line up I saw some girls in Kazakh kit. They were here along with a Russian team presumably to race in better conditions that where they were from. I tried to talk to them to find out more but they didn't speak any English. I waited on the startline with my arms crossed and my fingers in my armpits trying to keep warm. We were given instructions and off we set.

Coming over the line trying to catch back up to the group
Everyone coasted down the downhill until we hit the first corner and then things stated to speed up. I tucked myself into the peloton and monitored my heart rate to make sure I wasn't over doing it. I was fine, nicely down at the bottom of my range. I checked my sugars, steadily rising above 250. I attributed this to the adrenaline from racing and decided not to eat unless I dropped below 150 and even then only if it was a sharp drop.

In the group rounding the first bend
The peloton was not moving as fast as it did in my previous race. It was also smaller and less aggressive. This was probably because the 40+ and 50+ categories were not racing with us. I was feeling quite comfortable even on the first big bump. There was a bit of nervousness but no one trying to make a big move.

Next we hit the long descent to Beit Guvrin. I sat in the pack and with no effort I was travelling at 55+kph. Actually I had to use my breaks. We were not going as fast as we could have at point. We rounded the bends and turned on the terrible road. It was bumpy covered on gravel and hat plenty or pot holes and another climb. At the top it gets steep for about 100m. It was a case of getting out the saddle and making sure I stayed in the peloton. I just had to hang on until we turned a sharp right and the road headed downwards to village of Luzit. I was able to hold on and hold a good line through the corner.

Map of the race, 3 lap - 75Km

The next section headed mostly downwards and with the peloton mostly together it was fast and required little effort. Once we passed Luzit the road became rolling hills. I moved near the front so that if the peloton sped up on an incline and wasn't able to match the speed then I would have plenty of tail to hold onto until the road flattened out.
Rounding the first bend with one of the Kazach girls behind
I was doing fine. Happy with my position but unhappy with my sugars. They were too high to eat and there was nothing I could do about it so I kept monitoring them and carried on. At the final descent before Agur I found myself near the front of the peloton and pushed to gain as much speed as I could before the bounce on to the first steep section of the finishing climb. I was in good position but as my speed decreased people started to pass me. As we hit the sharp right hand bend I stood up on my pedals and pushed as hard as I could to round the steep corner and stick with the group. The climb eased off and then flattened slightly. Phew! Still with the group. I tried to match the speed without going into the red and a few minutes later we crossed the line and I was still with the group on lap 2. I was already doing better than expected, though I thought we would already have split into smaller groups by then. The downhill and flatter roads allowed me to recover. As we reached the top of the rise on this section a few people sped up and looked like they were trying to make a break. I was right near the front and put a big effort to stay with front group. I looked back and saw a big gap to the people behind. I thought to myself this is great, finally the thing has blown apart, and somehow I am in the front group. So I was really annoyed when the guys at the front didn’t continue to push and keep the advantage. I was covering my brakes as we headed downhill slower than the previous lap.

I wanted to push things on so I rounded the peloton and called out to people to join me. No one followed and I was on my own up the road. I hit 60 kmph and resisted the urge to push as hard as I could, with one and a half laps to go that would have been stupid. I was not joined by anyone and even the the group caught me they backed off until the end of the stretch to hang me out to dry. I may have paid for my efforts. By the time we head off the main road I was back firmly within the peloton and recovering well. When we made it round to the final 500m before the finish line I got dropped from the group. The speed up that incline was too much.
Taking it easy at the back of the peloton, Marc working hard at the front
I sped down the hill on the other side and watched as they started to pull away from me on the flatter terrain. Eventually the race organiser’s car came past me and I was wondering if this was my race over. I saw ahead that there was a small group chasing to get back on. I stood up out of saddle and pushed hard to get back on. I looked down at my rapidly rising heart rate hoping I had enough left to make it back to the group. I thought to myself, I can recover once I get back on as long as I make it before the downhill, otherwise I am toast. Soon I was making up ground, I think they were taking a break from pushing hard. The car pulls to the side to let me rejoin and I was finally sat back in the group.

We crested the top of the hill soon after and this time I was just sitting at the back conserving all my energy. We continued off the main road again avoiding the gravel and the potholes and over the rolling hills. As we head on the final downhill section of the race I took on another gel. I still had high blood sugar but it was coming down sharply and I wanted to avoid crashing to a low. I could feel the bunch getting a bit nervous, everything was together and no one was going to be allowed to make a break that this time. I had to stay up front, not more worrying about my blood sugar just race, do what I can and try to get across the line with everyone else. The road rolled up and down and I fought for a place near the front. I knew that I had to hit the turn at Agur as far up as I could so that I wouldn’t get dropped straight away.
Flying the TeamBG flag, and still carrying our sponsors bottles, thank you Torq

We crested that final bump before the climb to the finish, it was all stretched out and I had some distance to make up. I pushed hard to get up some speed on the downhill and raced up the steep incline, quickly out of my pedals and into the corner. I looked to my side and saw that I was up near the front. I tried to tuck in as we rounded the steep corner and watch, as expected as the better climbers came past. I pushed on my pedals and sat back down, I was at the back of a depleted group, and not feeling like I had much more left to stick with it. I tried to recover on this flatter section. The incline of the road increase and the speed of the peloton showed no sign of decreasing. I was trying to find something in my legs and heart but I was almost done. Other riders fell away as I did everything I could to stay with the leaders. Marc came past me and I shouted “Go on Marc ‘av it” to give him some encouragement. He caught up to the group ahead. Some of the other riders were coming past me, I was struggling to keep the pace, dropping down through the gears to keep my cadence high. There was nothing I could do. My heart rate was in the high 170s and I can’t hold 180+ for too long and I still had about a kilometer and a half to go.

The gap to the leaders grew and even as the road leveled out ahead of me I was struggling to push the pedals round fast enough to give me the much needed increase in speed. A small group of chasers formed in front of me and I just couldn’t make it up to them. The car came past me signalling I was now far behind. I was tired but so close to the finish. The hill started to get really steep and I was in trouble. I looked to the side and I see pink handlebar tape and pink gloves, then pink bottle cages and pink sunglasses. Noa, one of the Junior girls from Team 500 Watt, was coming past me. I tried to hang on to her wheel but there was nothing left in the tank. I see the 1Km to go and I know its almost over, where can I find some more energy. I see the water tent and the decreasing incline after that. As the road flattens out I see Alon standing by the side (he punctured and dropped out of his race). He screamed encouragement at me and I started to pick up the pace. I chased after Noa. I thought that if I could get up enough speed I might beat her to the line. Into the big gear, 500m to go, heading down hill for the last time, 36kmph, 37, 38, pedals spinning nicely at 90rpm. Starting to get into a rhythm, up to 100rpm spinning my legs to release the tension - 45kmph. The final bend, 48kmph, and then the bounce, down through the gears, out of the saddle, pushing hard as the speed came down and the road went up. Heart rate only down to 165bpm, nothing to do now, final push to the line. The incline increasing up to 10% and I was carrying enough speed. Noa was coaming into sight. She looks back as I approach her she must have heard me breathing hard from a few meters away. I pass her and focus on the line, as the road flattens down to about 6% I sit and spin the pedals over the line. My heart rate up in the high 170s and with nothing left.

I finished in 16th place in my category, just 1 minute down on the winner. This is a huge improvement timewise from previous races. I hope I can build on that. I did not think that I was going to do that well at all in this race and I achieved more than I had imagined. This time next year and I could be on a podium, which would be amazing considering the hilly terrain. Marc managed 10th position which is pretty amazing considering its only his second proper race. Noa was first in her category by a margin. I felt a little silly afterwards, refusing to be beaten by a 17 year old girl. It really didn’t matter who it was, I would have chased anyone, I just needed to focus on a target and it was her. Bear in mind she is coming up through the ranks towards being an Elite rider.

Strava output.

My Sugar trace before during and after the race. The race started at 7am and finshed around 9:15

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