2017 Graperide Specialized Ambassador Paul Odlin blog – the latest from competitive road cyclist and professional cycle coach is….
For the second year myself and a crew of 15 athletes I coach converged on the Graperide Gran Fondo in Blenheim. 13 of us made up close to a quarter of the Magnum field, raced in much more spritely conditions this year – being a month earlier and in warmer, drier conditions made the 6am start far more conducive to an enjoyable 200 kilometer race!
I won and set a course record in the process – I’ll tell you how I did that…
After looking at the start list and realising my prediction none of my competitors/peers would be in the race I made a race plan to (strava) KOM 2 climbs and make the 2nd lap a solo Sweet Spot (90% of threshold – for me 360w)/Threshold (400w) interval session.
A large contingent, sponsored by Ricoh New Zealand, took off from the gun which set up a fast first lap. I pulled with these guys then took off at the first KOM segment into Picton. I succeeded in getting this one (until someone on an e bike took it off me an hour later). On the second KOM (the Wedge – second climb out of Picton), the 1 lappers hit it really hard and half a dozen went faster than the KOM I held for an hour!
I managed to KOM two other segments while doing sweet spot on the second lap on the last part of the Grove (note to young players – before the Graperide this 100 kilometer circuit was known as the Grove).
On the second lap I rode away from my two first lap companions – chapeau to these two as they destroyed themselves lapping with me then waved their au revoir before the hill into Picton! I set about riding threshold uphill and sweet spot on the flat, until I cracked with 25ks to go!
The idea for riding this way came from doing the gorges circuit around Christchurch recently on my Shiv TT bike doing 4x 45 minutes sweet spot: 15 minutes recovery. Again I cracked in the last 20k – good training though! Certainly this makes racing hard over 200k (well not quite that far in my case), a lot more achievable. I have also over my cycling career built a tenacity that while cracking is always a possibility the ship will never completely sink.
This tenaciousness has earnt me the term ‘grafter’. To me a grafter is neither capable of frequent peak peak performance (think – someone who wins with alarming frequency), nor someone who finishes outside the top 10 (author’s note – I’ve had many of those placings in Tour of Southland as an exception!). I think the French call this a rouleur.
It’s an interesting contrast with the athletes who I train, who mostly have a relatively short exercise history (in cycling at least). A lasting comment/feedback from at least four that did the Magnum for the first time was the fear of the unknown (racing 200 kilometers). Just when the group started speeding away on the uphill segments, these four were gripped with the fear of what’s going to happen if I hold this group when it comes to the last 30 kilometers?
These regrets of should-have-could-have-would-have were soon glazed over for the 2nd year running with Specialized New Zealand putting on the supreme post-race experience with a VIP tent. Hot flannel to start, espresso coffee made by world infamous barista Greg Fraine next, then superb meal options from a local delicacy food merchant. Add to that a few beverages and sitting around chewing the cud made for an ideal way to wrap up the day.
Of course we do voluntarily sign up for these punishments so it’s nice to provide something normal people would categorize as enjoyable – thank you Specialized NZ!
Thanks for reading.