Well, the Jayco Bay Classic has been and gone for 2010, and what a way to start the year!
This was my first race on a 'Team', and whilst we were kind of pieced together and didn't know each other beforehand, I had a ball! The girls on the team - Rowena, Niki, Naomi and Maddie - made the whole weekend a great experience. So glad I met these girls and got to ride with them! Niki and Rowena are gun MTB riders, and they're pretty shit hot on the road too.. Naomi has years and years of racing experience and is a gun without even trying, she was great to get some handy tips off, and Maddie is 16 and has come from starting as a triathlete and has been doing cycling for about a year, and wowee she can ride a bike! The sick puppy likes hills too!
So the first day was in Geelong's Eastern Gardens. It's a course I've done before, about 2.3k and reasonably flowing. A few gradual uphills to sap the legs, but no real sharp corners etc.
I knew I'd have a reasonable chance of hanging on for this one, and I did. I think pretty much everyone finished this race, except for those that were caught up in random accidents that just shouldn't have happened. I think this was possibly the scariest race i've done! We were on the brakes the whole time, slowing, speeding up, slowing again, it was all over the place. I was trying to keep out of trouble and move up the pack, but it was hard to hold position, especially when you weren't confident of the skills of the riders around you..
Basically I got caught behind a really bad stack out the back on the last lap and got seperated from the bunch.. Some girls chased, but I figured I wouldn't waste my legs with another 3 days of racing still to go, and just rolled across the line with a couple of other girls.. My roomy Rowena managed a top 10 place for the team, which was awesome!
Cool down on the trainer with Maddie, watched the boys race which was shortened because of the ambulance being used for the girls race. Saw Gossy sprint to the line for 2nd for Team Degani and then headed back to the hotel we were all staying at, before heading to dinner with the whole team (Support, Womens & Mens, and everyone who was down to help out). Went for coffee and cakes after Dinner, then tried to get to bed for an earlyish night, but was pretty wired and went to sleep about 11 I guess.
Amy's Ride was this morning, and we were asked to be a part of it for at least some of it. So we all headed out as a group to the start point, along with lots of other teams. Pretty uneventful except for someone from the AIS team going head on in to a Bollard and almost stacking it! Did about 40k all up, stupidly had a turn on the front, which had I not done that, I may have stayed in that afternoon's race for a another lap!
This race was in Eastern Gardens again, this time a new course that no one had raced before. Start went straight into a corner, followed by a slight downhill into a hairpin bend, then a nice sweeping straight to get to the base of an approx 100m climb with a real kick at the end, round the corner to the finishing straight which was a slight uphill too..
The hill proved to be my issue - no surprises there! - and with some gearing issues making my gears slip, and forgetting that you're allowed to take a lap out to get mechanical issues fixed, i lasted until pretty much the first sprint lap about 15 minutes into the race before detonating up the climb and slipping off the course to get back to the team tent.
Did my cool down on a set of rollers this time, which i've never used before, and managed to stay on them for a full 20 minutes with no crashes! I held on to something for a good half of it, but by the end I was riding properly without leaning on stuff. Was VERY proud of my efforts and look forward to using the rollers I got for Xmas when it's wet outside!
Again watched the boys race and Braunsteins going on the attack time after time! Finally he got one that stuck, was almost caught on the line, but he managed to hang on for 3rd by the smallest of margins.
Back to the hotel again for a bit of rest and to freshen up before heading to tonights team Dinner - Thai!! A funny night ensued from here, me having a 'stalker' keep calling me, 'how clean can you get your plate' competitions and various immature but fun games.. This was followed by Pankcakes at Panaches.. omg YUM! and then time to hit the hay for another pretty bad nights sleep for me..
Everyone except me rolled out for a cruisy 50k ride in the morning. I was feeling very tired and lethargic and I think my Glandular was rearing it's ugly head a bit. I'm so over Glandular Fever it's not funny, I just want it to go away! But I'm learning to listen to my body, and my body was telling me rest. So after breakfast I headed back to the room for a lie down and managed to get at least another hours sleep. I felt so much better afterwards!
Today's race was the dreaded hot dog crit. But the good thing was that we were racing in the evening! So once everyone was back from their ride, Nikki, Chronis, Maddie & Braunsteins piles in to my car to head to Torquay.. We had some lunch there, and then decided Jan Juc was a better beach option and so headed off there. Some misdirection later, and we made it to the beach, and it was worth it! Perfect beach conditions. warm but not over hot, slight breeze, and awesome surf! The other girls thought the water was too cold and didn't get in, but the rest of us had a blast catching waves, getting dunked, and stuffing around. I don't get the opportunity to go to a surf beach much these days, but I defs want to make more of an effort. It was so much more fun than the Bay! Bit of sunbaking and drying off, and it was time to head back unfortunately. I think every one of us would have been happy to stay there all day..
So, on to the race. The Hot Dog Crit. 600m circuit, up and down 2 300m straights, with a U turn at each end. Stop, up to full speed, stop, up to full speed - timesed by as many laps as you can make it around... Basically if you're not up in the front 20 in this race, you're in for an excruitiating time, followed by popping off the back of the pack. I'm actually very happy with how I did, made it just over 1/2 way, and there were already several girls off the course by the time I stopped. Last year there were lots of crashes and opportunities to take laps out.. This year there weren't any whilst I was still on the course! Oh well. Having never done a circuit like this, it's hard to realise exactly how hard it is. It sucks! But great training and great experience.
Another Roller Cool Down, this time practicing having a go with no hands and stuff. Still no falling off! Yay!
Maddie and I managed to score the photo we were after with Robbie Mcewen which was nice!
So we went home happy and ready to go out for dinner again, this time the 4 points Sheraton! We were really being spoilt this weekend and loving it! After such a late race, dinner at 11pm was kind of weird though! That was mainly because the food took so long to bring out... Which was a problem because I decided to have a couple of wines with dinner, then with the delayed food, and the taste for wine, I had another.. And then I had a couple of Vodka's at the bar with some friends, and I was a little bit tipsy. Oh well, it's a new strategy I thought I'd try for the next days race. Have to say that I gave everything a go!
Another night with not enough sleep and I was pretty tired come the next day...
The final day. Today we had to pack up and head up to Williamstown for the final days racing. This was set to be another tough stage, and I knew I would struggle.
Snagged the 2nd photo of the weekend that I was after, one with Phil Liggett, and he was even wearing Degani Kit! Very happy with that one!!
So, got kitted up, warmed up, caffeined up and ready to go for the last race and it was on from the start. Tried so hard to get my arse up near the front to make life easier, but with the Roundabout being straight away and then headwind and slight up hill out of it, I just couldn't get up there and it was a sufferfest from then on. I lasted about 16 minutes apparently, and again I wasn't the first to pop thankfully! But gee it was hard and fast. Those girls can really ride a bike.
Needless to say, Rochelle Gilmore came away with the GC win and the Honda Team overall in Teams.. But I was so happy to be able to have raced with the girls I raced with, Rowena had some bad luck on a couple of the races which stopped her getting more top 10's, Naomi was out there kicking it to the girls off the front in a couple of the races, Niki was so strong and solid throughout the whole event, Maddie, for a 16 year old did amazingly well! And me, well I'm happy with how I did considering the circumstances.
Having basically had Glandular Fever since I started focusing on bike riding/racing has put a real dampener on my training and performance, but I'm confident that once I shake that and get in some solid training, I'll be mixing it up with these girls sooner rather than later.
I just have to remember Patience. Bike racing takes years of learning experience in tactics etc before you get good, so I plan to race as many different races as I can and as my body will allow, that way I can learn as much as possible.
I want to again thank George from Degani for giving us girls the opportunity to race at Bay Crits where we normally wouldn't have had, and for looking after us so well! I put on weight coming back from there because i'd eaten so well!!
Things to learn, I was dehydrated by the end of the weekend, drink more water!
I needed to rest more as well. As much as it was fun to watch the boys races, I probably should have gone back to the hotel for a lay down, especially in my condition.
I think I would have coped much better with the weekend without glandular, but I didn't give it the respect it deserves and didn't rest enough.