Up 5 places! Quite an improvement over last week!
Before the race, I scoped out the finish and made a mental note of the beats: climb, coast, flat, hard left, sprint. This really helped at the end of the race when I was just about cooked, but knew I had to make the most of that coasting section so I'd have something left to push across the flat & sprint for the finish.
The start was the usual drag race off the line, followed by a steep, narrow ramp about 200m from the start that created enough of a bottleneck that the first guys through basically got the hole shot. I didn't get held up too bad, but I didn't exactly roll through with any momentum.
On the fire road climb I just tried to hold an aggressive pace and stay with whomever I could, and I especially tried not to let myself get stuck behind slower riders. If I could pass without redlining, I did.
I think that helped my position going over the top, which ended up being pretty close to my finishing place, I think. I have a pet theory that if there's just one climb on a course, the order at the top is generally the finishing order. That seems to have held last night.
As we started the second lap, I caught up to a competitor in blue, and managed to grab onto his wheel.
We rode like that for a while, then, on the flats headed for the last climb, he let me pass and grabbed a wheel a couple of riders behind me. I tried to lose him in traffic, but he held on, and then made the decisive pass with about 20m left to go on the climb. I had no answer, and had to let him go.
As I was crossing the flat section leading to the finish line, I spotted another competitor trying to sneak past, and gave it a bit more gas. He was strong, but evidently not quite enough to pass, so I was able to hold on for 7th.
So what went well?
I was in the right gear & clipped in clean off the starting line.
I was more aggressive about passing slower riders, which I think both reduced drag and helped me keep a comfortable rhythm.
I managed to mostly avoid getting passed on the last lap. From what I can tell, I held my place from the top of the climb to the end.
I scoped out the finish, and executed my plan for the end of the race.
And what do I want to do better next week?
I don't think getting better results is all that complex. I need to keep training & get stronger, and I need to start quicker off the line. Being near the front after the first few minutes bodes really well for a good finish.
So I'll keep up the interval training, and the strength work I've been doing over the last few weeks.