This year I knew was a great chance to change that as I had found myself in somewhat unexpected early season form. Geelong 2 week’s prior really knocked me around. The battle with Crowie took a huge toll on my body that I still felt hadn’t completely left my system before the race in Husky. I knew it would be in my best interests to get away early on the bike and get out of sight and out of mind from the other competitors.
The swim proved to be quite fast with a couple of ex clubby surf guys flexing some muscle that unfortunately left us with no time to admire the abundance of marine life that accompanied the picturesque swim course. I honestly felt rubbish in the swim and started to get a little anxious that I might have underestimated the damage I had done to my body two weeks prior. However, I was committed to the race and I had formulated a race plan that I intended to stick to. I found myself locking arms with other athletes and wasting far too much energy fighting, rather than focusing on forward progress. I lost the two leaders after about 600 meters and I emerged from the bay in 3rdplace upon completion, about 20 seconds down. Once on dry land I new I wanted to put some pressure on the chasing guys that were perhaps already stretched from a solid swim. I had a slick transition, partly thanks to some last minute dousing from the dregs of oil left in the john west salmon can I consumed for breakfast (Shark Bait ooh ha ha). I had prepared myself for riding solo and instead of utilizing my normal ‘ride to the race and how I feel’ approach I had dialed in my Garmin and decided to stick to some numbers. I had 300 watts floating around in my cranium and decided to ride to that power for as long as I could sustain.
Full analysis can be found on Strava.
The course at Huskisson is three 27km loops, so any time gaps you get coming through town are in fact one lap behind. However I was extremely pleased the hear someone yell out when I came through 2 out of 3 laps that I had 3 minutes on the chase pack after the first loop. My numbers were high and I was feeling good on the bike, much to my relief after my lackluster aquatic performance. I just tried to keep pushing as hard as I could, knowing that the more time I gained, the higher the possibility of a slightly easier run could be on the cards. This was a very tantalizing trade off, as the thought of getting into another running race was not something I was thrilled about. Despite pushing hard I kept an eye on my garmin, making sure I was keeping my power controlled on the climbs and even on the descents to avoid too much of a wattage spike over the undulating terrain. Coming into T2 I the numbers on my garmin validated my thoughts of having a great ride. I had averaged 307 watts and clocked 1:55 for the 82 kilometer course, 5 minutes faster than what Tim Reed, Pete Jacobs and myself had ridden the year previous as a trio.
Towards the end of the ride I started to feel my muscles threatening to cramp in my inner thigh, and as I dismounted and donned my running paraphernalia my left VMO cramped with enough force to subdue Pharlap in her prime. I gingerly trotted out of transition and had some thoughts that I could be in trouble, however I knew I had almost 7minutes to chasers so I took my time early to find my feet. I took every aid station slow and knew that it was now my race to lose. I stuck to about 3:30-3:40 pace for the first 10km and after getting the time check of still over 6 minutes I was able to relax and enjoy the second lap. It was great having a chat to a few guys out there who were thrilled to be able to hold pace with the guy leading the race.
After two 3rd’s and a second place finish over the past 3 years it was really satisfying to take line honors in a convincing fashion. I know it sounds corny but it is really great to see all my hard work paying off, as well as tangible improvements over the past 12 months. I have never won a race before by going solo off the front on the bike. My bike is something that Tim and I have worked very hard on over the past 18 months and its great to know that I have gotten up to a very competitive level that I can know use to win races.
Hats off the Emo and the team at Elite Energy who have built such a fantastic race over the years. I’m thrilled to be able to join the long list of winners such as Crowie, Pete Jacobs, and Tim Reed.
Thanks to everyone for the messages and my team of sponsors:
Next race will be Challenge Batemans Bay at the end of March.