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The Race (Cat 6)

April 5, 2011

The race (Cat 6)

It was all going to plan, like the training. I was cruising, flew down the first decent, not a sign of competition, took the right hander and down onto the river path, negotiated the bumps and was on the flat, out of the winds. Things were going to plan. Reach down to the bar con shifters (it’s hard to conceal your intentions) and change up a few gears and was just starting to feel the legs come to life and the bike settled into its normal quite smooth ride (on it’s Michelin World Tour soft Frenchy tyres). A good pace now to home and things would be fine.

But from behind, more right ear than left, a fast spinning sound. Legs moving, albeit without grace, but catching. I turn over a few more revolutions and he’s upon me. Old Avanti – really old with fixed forks of faded former fluro glory, rack with what is maybe a laptop. He passes me. No acknowledgement… it’s an attack. I think about taking it up a level in effort but I know the path. It’s open here but there is a climb to come – must conserve effort. In Linear Park terms it’s a category three (3-4metres altitude over 20 – 30 meters!). I know this race. My training has been intense, every day, twice a day.

Just wait. Compose. There is still time. I watch the breakaway ahead of me, legs spinning. A curious selection of gears. I change down one and put some muscle into it and climb fast with less turns, catch a bit (he must be more of a tri-athlete). We catch an earlier breakaway, Team Kmart Helmet, just over the crest. No problems, he’s bonking. The rider from Team Avanti Faded Forks is still spinning but I can see, as I expected his pace was faltering. He’s made his break and now thinks he’s home free. I gauge the breakaway gap and the distance to end (the bridge).

We pass a team on a nature stop. Their domestique was picking berrys from a road side bush. Always a mistake. Dropped. The ridge turns into decent and it’s fast and smooth. The Sierra performs well – it has the weight for fast decents – under the Ascot Rd and over the wooden bridge. Now it is the time to attack. The surface is smooth but the gradient is deceptive – it must waver between .001% and .05% – if you haven’t ridden the stage you wouldn’t know where to conserve energy, where to change.. the air is thin up here (at 50m asl). Out of the 42-19 (the gear of champions) and onto the 53-23 (the gear of victory). Meters are gained. There’s no race radio but I estimate only 20 seconds and gaining. My choice is too hard, I drop down. 53 – 19 now and spin faster. My training was coming back to me. I’ve no cleats, no clips – no pull. Meters are gained – 10seconds now. I rest a bit. I know I can take this in a sprint but there is still one more decent – the treacherous sub Obahn pass.

The breakaway from Team Avanti Faded Forks is gone. Energy spent. A failed attack took him nowhere (except home eventually). Planning is everything. The decision to carry his laptop home on a Friday afternoon cost him. Me, I jettisoned all my weight (I ate my lunch and don’t take work home on the weekend). It’s a skill in the Commuting Classics and there are tactics.

We’re into the decent. It’s fast but I can see he is mentally beat. He doesn’t even change gears until it’s too late. Hazards ahead – dog walker but again skilfully negotiated by the pro and in the end it’s just a matter of staying upright for the final meters to the line. Cross, wave to the adoring ducks and cruise off to the team manager’s adoring welcome home kiss.


You can’t tell me you don’t do it? It’s been called a Category 6 race (or Cat 6). If someone passes you on your commute how do you react? Males? Females?

The Cat 6 is a term I first saw coined by EcoVelo blog:

Cat 6 races are those impromptu races that spring up between bike commuters on otherwise sedate commutes. You know the drill: you’re cruising along, when suddenly you see another rider, either up ahead or gaining from behind, and you kick up the pace to either pass or avoid being passed. The other rider does the same, and the next thing you know, you’re off to the races. That’s a Cat 6 race.

Originally posted on Adelaide Cyclists

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From → commuting, urban

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