La Velocita's Aaron Mulkearns caught up with James Pane from Pats Veg Cycling to find out what racing in the Under-23 Road National Championships is really like.
At 18 years old James did an amazing job to finish the 132.6km U23 Men's Road race. A massive number of riders could not handle the hot pace and pulled out. Avoiding crashes and staying with the field James showed that he's one to watch in the future!
How was the overall experience?
I enjoyed my first under 23 nationals. From the nerves when I first woke in the morning, to the cramps in the legs during the car trip home... Although there were some points during the race where I would have preferred to be enjoying a cold beer; the satisfaction of finishing my first under 23 nationals made the pain and suffering worthwhile.
How were the nerves racing the national under 23 road race?
Yes. I'm not normally the kind of person that gets nervous before a race but being my first under 23 race/nationals and race for my new team I was feeling the pressure to perform.
How was your training in the lead up for Nationals? Did you change or approach anything differently?
My training load increased as soon as I completed all of my year 12 studies (and after copious amounts of alcohol were consumed). Training changed from early morning rides before school to long training days.
I have to say a massive thanks to Stuart Grimsey for the many training rides with him and passing on his knowledge of racing nationals.
How was the pace of the race?
The pace started steady and didn't really change very much till the last few laps. The hill drained the energy from my legs each lap and it seemed to get longer and steeper with each repetition. For me, in the last 3 laps instead of increasing my pace speed I seemed to get slower.
How were the other riders during the race?
All the other riders seemed to have more power than me. They all looked to be cruising when I was struggling. Unfortunately there were a number of crashes, luckily for me I was able to avoid all of them and keep myself upright.
Being the nationals there would have been a much bigger crowd than what you would usually expect, how were they?
The crowd created a great atmosphere around the course and lifted all the riders to push that little bit further. It was a good feeling to race past the start/finish line with people lining the streets cheering you on. Although the crowd on the hill were not nice enough to give me a push on the last lap!
Report: Aaron Mulkearns
What's the climb really like?
If you were to go out and ride up the climb it isn't to demanding. But after 9-10 reps it seems to change into a mountain such as Alpe d'Huez!
How did you feel after the race?
Stuffed! All I wanted after the race was a cold drink and to stuff my face full of fast food. After proving my body with the correct nutrition I was satisfied that I finished my first nationals, but still disappointed at being dropped on the 3rd last lap. It has also provided me with the motivation to go back next year, with more training and experience to hopefully improve my performance.
What did you learn?
I learnt that nationals are about constantly conserving energy. Trying not to touch the wind and to remember to eat and drink at all chances. You also have to be attentive and stay out of trouble.
For me the Nationals was the start of what is hopefully going to be a good year of racing. With the NRS and VRS about to kick off I'm hoping to gain further experience and knowledge that will help me improve my personal performance. I'm also excited to ride as part of the new development program with Pats Veg Racing, learning from the older mentors/riders in the team.