Last weekend was the first round of the very popular, and very probably rained out Pickering Brook series for 2017. The Pickering Brook series plays out over three rounds, each round consisting of a prologue time trial (~7.5km) and a road race on the same course (9 laps for A grade, coming to 70km). Each individual race of the series is assigned points for an overall winner, this favours those that can both TT and place in the road race. This year it’s been added to the newly formed Element Road Series, an extended series of races with points contributing to an overall winner. No one has memories of a first round at Pickering Brook that hasn’t been rained upon and this was no exception
I’ve been looking forward to the time trial for a while now. I’ve worked hard on honing my time trial abilities and I’ve ridden uncountable laps on this course so I know it well. I arrived early, got coffee, registered and gas bagged too long before kitting up and hopping on the bike to warm up. I’ve made a habit of doing a reverse loop of the course as part of my warmup to try and check for any new potholes and whether or not it’s clear of gumnuts. Another reason I do this, which would be vindicated, is to check for mechanical issues; my front brake anchor had slipped, leaving me with very little stopping power. I was able to get that fixed before completing my couple of activations and rolling to the start line.
The TT course is tough, there’s a fair amount of climbing for it’s short duration. Given the elevation and shortness, this necessitates going for an average above threshold and well into VO2 or anaerobic power on the rises to take the necessary seconds to compete at the top end. If you’ve not kept yourself in the right condition, it’s going to be a rough day. The weather was an additional complication, TT bikes don’t brake great on the best of days and even less so in the wet. The corners were greasy, ready to throw an unsuspecting rider if you glance at them cock eyed. This added an element of technicality and a little more punchiness to get back up to speed. To be honest, I think my penchant for alloy braking surfaces paid dividends here – still allowing me to brake somewhat late.
Warmed up, I readied myself at the start line, ditching a gilet at the last moment to retain body warmth. I pegged the riders ahead I’d target passing. I nudged over 60km/h heading towards the first corner and managed to get through at 39km/h. I flogged myself down the back straight, into the wind. Dug deep on the largest of the rises, crested with speed and got back on top of the gear. The whole time I was fighting nausea. There’s one last drag before reaching the downhill home straight, this always seems to go on for an age, yet another critical part on the course to push hard on. By now I’d passed two riders.
Entering the home straight, I worked my way back up to speed and settled to maintain control. I estimated time to the finish line and gradually ramped my power as I approached. By this time, my visor had thoroughly fogged and I had a narrow slit of visibility up the top. It’s not as bad as it sounds, I think this really enforced the importance of keeping my head tucked as it was the only way I could see anything! I passed team mate Ryan and kept building momentum. Shortly after, I lost the battle with nausea and left a shameful deposit on my sleeve, still, there’s a line to cross. I hit the finish at 61km/h for a time of 10:13 and an average of 44.5km/h. It’s not my best time on the course, but it is good, great even for the conditions. It was good enough to come away with the win by 22s so that made it a hell of a day in my books.
I won’t write too much here, the video up top does the bulk of the work. I broke away from the gun with my team mate James. We managed nearly 20km before being bridged by a group of 4 riders: Theo, Bryce, Guy and my team mate Rich. This unlikely group of fast finishers changed the dynamic. I now set about pulling more and long turns to ensure the break stuck for Rich. We didn’t count on Michael Freiberg’s phenomenal horsepower pulling us back in at around the 42km mark.
I settled, started trying to recuperate and nearly went off the back a few times. I got it together in the end to tow a small group out of the bunch for the final sprint: Freiberg, Scott Sunderland (his Isowhey team mate), Bryce (Satalyst), Matt Peterson (Veris) and my Santic GDT team mate Stuart. Freiberg lit it up and took the leadout up from me, leaving me in the dust to empty the tank solo towards the line. Stu came away with 5th. We had a great day out, above all else, our communication and team work was absolutely on point.
Thanks to Zac Williams for the photos.