I don’t have an exhaustive list of KOMs by any measure, and I’ll most likely have them all taken away at some point, so I’ve gradually been chipping away at some more segments in Darwin. Thus far I’ve only written about these efforts in Melbourne, so it’s time to run you through one of the harder stretches of road I’ve managed to top in the top end.
Bagot Road runs pretty well directly north-south through the northern suburbs of Darwin. The segment in discussion runs for 3.5km with an average gradient of 0%. Yup, 0%. Flat as a pancake. Although probably that shitty first pancake of the batch that doesn’t come out quite right. Bagot Road basically has what I’d describe as 3 steps – sections of a few hundred metres where it is just obvious that the tarmac is tending a little up or a little down. A set of traffic lights intersect the road 3km in, making things tricky for a good time. The next set of lights signal the end of the segment, and fortunately you don’t need to run them to get a good time! Unfortunately, the segment is often hammered by one of the Saturday morning bunch rides – that means plenty of strong riders sharing a turn on the front!
I was vaguely aware that the segment existed, frequently taking it to get home after the Hour of Power, but typically at a fairly sedate pace having just worked so hard. But I knew where it started, and figured there would be a segment to the second lights, so I decided to have a bit of a dig one morning after a cruisy ride with Alex McCallum, up from Melbourne.
Farewelling Alex at the casino, I rolled along Stuart Highway just after peak hour, and took note of the strong southerly (remember Bagot runs north-south). Turning onto Bagot itself, the road bends and drops dramatically by Darwin standards, and I was able to pick up a lot of speed. I didn’t have a heart rate monitor on, and I wasn’t exactly sure of the distance, but I was determined to hold 300W all the way to the second lights, and see what sort of time that would get me.
With that tail wind, and the downhill start, I found myself really flying along. 50km/h was a breeze for the first hundred metres. I didn’t expect that to last as the tarmac crept up, but found it manageable, still maintaining that high speed and cranking the power up. I had nothing else to focus on apart from one number on the screen, so just threw my legs down harder if the number was dropping too much, or backed them off a bit if I surged too high.
I’d basically stopped looking at my speed, but was stoked I was holding out with this 300W effort. Stuart Crompton from the cycling club drove past in his car and gave me a toot… he does this often enough, but on this occasion he wasn’t overtaking nearly as quick as usual. Approaching the Totem Road lights, I could see I was going to get a perfect run, so I kept pegging away.
Dropping in power slightly, I was feeling the strain of riding so hard, but determined to make the most of effort, I flicked into a harder gear, simultaneously dropping my cadence, but increasing my power back to 300W. Fading badly towards the very end, I sucked it up to give it everything I had left, and was hoping for the best when I uploaded.
Reaching the second set of lights, the segment was now complete and I was stoked that I managed to hold that power for so long. I wasn’t really hoping for a top ten, knowing that a bunch would likely go through far quicker, but nonetheless, I figured it would be a pretty bloody good time.
The result. KOM. By 2 seconds. Yes, the tail wind was a massive help, but drafting in a bunch works well too. Couldn’t believe I’d knocked this one over, but more than anything I was stoked to have held the power I wanted to.
Average Power: 300W
Average Speed: 50km/h
Average Cadence: 99