After a few navigation errors once I'd reached Toowoomba itself, I arrived at the criterium circuit about 20 minutes before race start. I quickly signed on, grabbed my number, got changed, and squeezed in a few minutes warm-up before the call up for race start.
The temperature was perfect for racing, however the wind was not. A fairly strong 'Toowoomba special' was blowing across the circuit. The commissaires called the role at the start line (there were 18 of us), gave us a quick run down (30 minutes + 2 laps, with 2 mid-race primes), and we were away!
The pace pretty much exploded from the start. I felt the lack of a good warm-up, especially as the pace nudged 60km/h with the wind at our backs along the first pass of the clubhouse. We swung around a corner, and the crosswind smacked us all across the width of the circuit.
I was already red-lining - on the first lap!! We sprinted up the first climb, then swung around down the long back straight. Now we had a cross/headwind, and we were strung out in single file along the edge of the circuit. Half-way along and - KABOOM - my legs exploded and I was out the back.
Dropped on the first lap - not quite what I was hoping for! The Race Commentator didn't miss me either, as I tried to regather my breath (and composure!) along the home straight, I heard him say, "And here comes a Balmoral rider - he obviously forgot this is a race and not a coffee ride, let's see if he can catch back on..."
I laughed and waved, and decided to make the most of what looked like becoming a hard training day instead of a race.
Wait up fellas!! Disappearing off the back, on one of the climbs...
That said, a bad day on the bike is still, well, a good day! I learnt plenty about racing in crosswinds, and enjoyed watching my much stronger competitors as they went past. I basically did a set of intervals for 30min, working hard and making the most of my time on the circuit.
My final stats were:
40 minutes of racing; Average speed of 29.5km/h; Top speed of 63.7km/h!
My fastest lap of the 1.8km full circuit was 2min 56sec - my 3rd lap, and the only one I completed under 3 minutes...
In contrast - the winner averaged 39.5km/h, and hit a top speed of 69.8km/h...!!
Glenvale Criterium Circuit
If you haven't raced at Glenvale before, and get the chance, you should definitely do it. It is a very honest (and fast!) criterium circuit, and I highly recommend it.
If you consider the most commonly raced, dedicated off-road criterium circuits in South-East Queensland, then Glenvale is probably the most balanced and fairest of them all. Murarrie and Nundah are flat tracks for the sprinters, while Lakeside and Nerang both have decent climbs in them that sap the legs and favour the lightweights.
The Glenvale track (photo taken during construction)
Finally - many thanks to the cycling community of Toowoomba (and the organising club, Bikeline Racing). It was an extremely well-run day of racing, by a very friendly and welcoming crew. Thanks, and I'm looking forward to coming back again!