Coleraine/Southern Grampians are around 4 hours from Melbourne, so myself JC & Bridge headed off about 4pm in the Jayco/Mazda team car (Thanks to JT for the loan :) ) We were staying at Bridgets parents place about 45 minutes from Coleraine, so decided just to head straight there and worry about registering in the morning. An uneventful trip, stopped for some supplies including a 24 pack of fresh Anzac Cookies.. More to come on those!!
Arrived to a yummy home cooked pasta meal and the knowledge that I'd have some Country peace and quiet and a king size bed to sleep in for the duration of the weekend! YIPPEE!! We had an early start, so got to bed as soon as we could, and surprisingly slept like a log!
Stage 1 - 72km RR
A super cruisy drive to Coleraine after a big breakfast to prepare for 2 stages, super smooth rego process, 6 visits to the toilet as the nerves set in along with the clouds, and all of a sudden it was only 15 minutes to race start. We went from having heaps of time, to having stuffed around so much that I did a 10 minute warm up and was being called to the race start!
1st lesson of the day - Do a proper warm up!!!
As we were lining up the drizzle started along with the wind and it became apparent it wasn't going to be a fun day. There were just over 20 starters, several of them super strong climbers, so a tough day had just been made tougher!
The nuetral roll out section included the first climb of about 2k out of town, but it wasn't overly nuetral to my non warmed up legs and lungs! The pace was pretty quick, but I used it as my warm up which wasn't ideal but would have to do!
The first KOM hit quick, a reasonably steep quick climb, with Jo Hogan and Lisa Jacobs attacking and staying off the front, quickly joined by Kendelle Hodges. A chase group of 7 including myself formed and continued this way until the last KOM, quickly a few of us were dropped off the back up the final steep pinch of the climb and had a 10k solo ride in to the headwind home.
2nd lesson of the day - If you're not feeling strong, get a bit of rest before the climbs!
Felt good to finish though and ended up with 8th, about 4:30 down on the leaders. Now it was time to rest up for the afternoon crit!
Compression tights on, time to get in some fuel (which in my case included 15, yes 15!, of the Anzac cookies purchased last night.. It was anzac weekend, I had to do it!
Stage 2 - 27km Crit
Learnt my lesson from the morning and did a proper warm up, and the legs felt considerably better than expected after the morning's stage.
So the crit was supposed to be 27kms, however due to running over time with the other grades our race was shortened to about 22k. 12 laps of a fairly fast course with an intermediate sprint @ 8 and 4 laps to go, both sprints were worth a lot in time bonuses, so they were going to be hotly contested. I was hoping to either reel back in some time for myself, or help bridget to make up time as she'd finished in the bunch ahead of me in the morning and was sitting 4th on GC. The way it panned out was super sprinter Bec Domange taking out both sprints, with myself being able to gain 10seconds with a 2nd in one of the sprints, and Bridget going for the early attack and taking out the stage win for Degani!
There was some shuffling of the top GC placings with Jo being able to pick up some bonus seconds to knock Lisa off the top spot and to move in to the yellow jersey. Bec overtook Bridget for 4th Position with all her time bonuses, and pretty much everyone else stayed in the same position.
Now what to do for dinner? With Carmel and Charlie (Bridgets parents) off at a wedding, we didn't feel like cooking, so headed to the National Hotel in Coleraine for a Parma!! Something I usually only have after all the racing is finished, but I figured I'd done 2, so it was deserved!
Back to the farm for some lollies and an early night!
Stage 3 - RR 72kms
With time bonuses on offer for the KOM's and Lisa and Jo being so close on GC, today's stage was always going to be tough over the climbs.
After a proper warm up again (yay!) we set off for another Nuetral climb out of town and then a fairly sedate paced ride out to the base of the first KOM. Things broke up pretty quickly up the steep Douglas Road with about 6 girls ahead and me getting dropped. Damn! Started the chase back on and was joined by super strong MTBer Jessica Douglas and SKCC chick Hannah Vine. The 3 of us worked well together to get back to the bunch... Right in time for the next KOM! Damn! No time to recover from the chase, I went with them as far as I could up yet another steep climb Zig Zag Rd, made it about half way before a steep pinch section made the legs give up. Once over the top, was rejoined by Hannah and Jessica again for the chase. We could see one solo girl up ahead and set about reaching her. Worked well together in to the wind and rolling hills until we all started to get quite tired and Jess put in a big effort and dropped us but reached the other girl up the road. We tried to reach them, but with both of us tiring it wasn't to be. Hannah made the call that she didn't have enough left to roll turns with about 10k to go, so it was time to remember what it was like to be a triathlete, stick my head down, and limit the time losses to the front girls as much as possible.
We rolled in just over 2.5 minutes down on the front pack, which considering the conditions etc I was pretty pleased with.
In the end I stayed 8th on GC, and was about 7 minutes down on the winner Jo with Bridget coming in 5th on GC which was a great effort considering she'd never done a Road Race before, let alone a Tour!
Happy with the weekend. My first real Tour, some good learning experiences and things to take away and work on! Next up, only a few days later.. Tour of Canberra! My first National Road Series Tour.. Time to rest and recover