I finished 15th today (of 648) in the MS Bike the Bridge, and 3rd in my age category. The course is 103km starting in Auckland city. The race begins by crossing the Auckland Harbor Bridge to the North Shore. The bridge closes for 3-4 events each year, such as the half-Ironman and Auckland Marathon.
Anyway, today's race was probably the hardest race I've done. The course has about a dozen climbs of around 100m, plus several smaller climbs. I was cramping badly by the 40th km. Usually that doesn't happen until 90-100km.
We smashed it over the Harbor Bridge. I was about 5th or 6th wheel to the top. I only had a brief chance to take in the view as the descent was fast with a tail wind. The pace heated up again once we cleared Albany on the step-climb to Paremuremu. The field split with about 10 guys going off the front.
I tried my hardest but couldn't stay with them. I made a group of about 10 guys just 10 seconds behind. We caught the leaders about 3-4km later but we splintered a few moments later on another steep climb.
We regrouped on Ridge Road (at about the 20km mark) as a group of 12 with the leaders (about 5 or 6 cyclists) out of sight for the remainder of the race.
Our group stayed together for the next 70km or so. We worked together for the most part, with several unsuccessful attacks.
I don't know why I had such bad cramps so early on. Two bidons of Gatorade and 6 GU gels should've got me through the race. Everytime we started to climb I just had to ride through it.
Although I was barely hanging on to our group, I was felt confident as I know the course well. We hit Ridge Road with unbelievable speed. I've never been up Ridge so fast. I was almost unhitched a couple of times.
I got caught off the back of the group descending down to Paremuremu. We were passing cyclists in the 50km fun ride down a steep, narrow, and windy descent. The guy in front of me let a gap of 4-5 meters open up and that was it. Over.
RaceShape.com above shows the running time gap between myself (horizontal pink line) and the winner (blue line).
I was wasted and just lumbered through the final 10km. I finished in 3 hours and 1 minute. I was 5 minutes down on my group, and 15 minutes down from the winner.
My power curve for today:
5 min: 349w
10 min: 295w
20 min: 274w
And the race start and crossing of the Harbor Bridge: