By Lachlan Darch
A lot can happen in a year, and the experience gained in racing over a year is immeasurable. I came into the 2017 Nationals with very little experience, I had raced U19 Nationals the year previous, but that was my only “big event” experience. Before last years race, I only had experience racing in local club races in fields as big as 30, and only ridden one other time trial on a TT bike (that wasn’t even mine). This year I had a year racing local club races, VRS and NRS races so had much more experience (all opportunities made possible by the team and all of our sponsors!). Both years I competed in the Time Trial and the Road Race, and while I still have plenty of room to improve, the differences a year can make is astounding.
The biggest difference I noticed comparing the two years of Nationals I had competed in was the 29.5km time trial. The conditions were a bit slower this year, with a head crosswind on the way out and a tail cross on the way home instead of a tailwind/headwind, however after an extra year of experience I managed to go 3mins quicker. I think a fair bit of this improvement came from being in a better position mentally; I was more excited than nervous, I wasn’t worried of crashing on the start ramp, I remembered my earphones for the warmup, and when it started getting proper hard, I had some techniques I used to talk myself through the difficult sections (also having two teammates to chase down certainly helped). And of course being 12 months older and stronger contributed as well.
The roadie was disappointingly similar over both years, very hot, very hard, and I made it even harder for myself being out of position. With the addition of the Fed Uni route this year, the course became more technical, and with being a pretty poor descender, meant that I had to spend a bit more time chasing wheels out of corners. Last year, I was nervous as I hadn’t ever raced in a big field, and certainly nothing as long as the race, however this year, coming into the week of the race, I was confident that I was going to be able to have a good race, however ended up psyching myself out after seeing the new route.
I’m looking forward to next years nationals, as I am aiming to make significant improvements in the time trial, and to make an impact in the road race.