Friday, December 17, 2010

Tour of Bright - Groupetto is fun!

So, some say I was overly ambitious entering A grade at the Tour of Bright knowing I would have only been back training for 6 weeks post Collarbone, but hey.. I've always been one to just throw myself in the deep end and it usually end in my learning how to swim pretty darn quick!

The week leading up to the race was pretty cruisy, but still a few nerves.. I'd only done 1 race since being back on the bike, and that was a short 45min Crit at St Kilda.. A far cry from almost 100k, backed up with a TT in the afternoon, followed by THAT climb the next day.. So the goal was to get to the end of the weekend, not in a blubbering mess.

It was a restless night for many on the Friday with Downpours like we'd never heard before battering the roof and making us realise we were in for a wet weekend.. Waking up to the Alarm Saturday morning with the sound still going, I reminded myself that probably my favourite race in Europe was wet and windy, so this was going to be fun!

Long story short, the rain stopped about 2 minutes before we rolled out, and the whole weekend ended up being the most fantastic weather you could possibly imagine!

Stage 1 was the Happy Valley loop, and for the first time the girls were starting in Bright. I rolled out with a few nerves realising that it was 3 months to the day (give or take timezones..) that I'd had the accident.. It was a fairly leasuirly stroll towards Ovens, with everyone finding their legs and no one really willing to do too much work knowing what was ahead.. Things soon changed with the first sprint being less than 15k in, and Prime Estate took charge showing that they wanted the Sprint Jersey, which they took fairly easily over the course of the weekend with Nicole Whitburn coming away with the prize. After that there were several attacks with Mary Rogers getting quite the gap on the bunch, however she was caught by the top of Rosewhite Gap.. Unfortuntely for me, no amount of telling my legs to shut up would help and I would slowly drop of the back of the bunch just over half way up the climb. Thankfully I wasn't the only one and a small group formed and we worked well over the dead and windy back roads to Mount Beauty to make it to the final climb.. By now the heat was bearing down and the very sheltered Tawonga climb got quite hot, but it was over with reasonably quickly and there was the finish line! I muttered to myself the same thing I say every time I reach the top of that climb... 'Thank F(&^ for that...'
The goal was to not come last - Mission Accomplished!

Time to roll back to Bright, set up the TT bike and put the feet up, eat, eat some more, and then get kitted up again for 15.5k of Pain!

Stage 2 - Time Trial..
So being the ex Triathlete that I am (shhhh, don't tell anyone), I still own a TT bike (not a triathlon bike, now I'm a cyclist it's a TT bike..) And damn it, if i'm going to own one, I'm going to use it! Even if it was likely I would come last.. As a great prep for the TT, for the first time in 12 months I'd dragged the bike out 2 days before and gone for an hours spin, so of course I'd be ready for this!
Everyone knows that in cycling it's not about how fast you go, it's about how fast you look.. And I'm pretty sure I looked fast! I even borrowed Melina's Aero Helmet to give me the full look.
Basically the TT went like this - OMG this hurts - Shut up Legs.. How slow am I going??? SHUT UP LEGS! The End. I'm sure they were all repeated over and over in my head, and it seemed to take a lot longer than the reported 27 minutes, but I'll take it.. And again, Didn't come last!

A much needed Gelati post race, and then it was time for a swim in the beautiful Ovens river to cool off and help the legs. It was a perfect afternoon and I could have sat there for hours, but it was time to go and eat again, and put the legs up again, and get the bike ready again.. Gee I'd forgotten how much was involved in this stage racing business!

After a dodgy nights sleep due to too much caffeine the previous day, we woke to another beautiful morning for racing. Surprisingly the legs felt pretty good, so more food, a bit of a stretch, and off to catch the start of the boys race before a bit of a spin to get the legs going. Then it was time to race again!
Things got off to a VERY slow start.. At first I thought I'd just sit in, save the legs, and give myself a fighting chance of at least making it 1k into the climb with the bunch, but that was boring, so I moved up to the front to help out with a bit of the work..
Things got a little messy when Masters Men passed our bunch, as after they'd got a bit of space, I managed to get a gap on the bunch a few k out from the first sprint of the day, so went for it and ended up reovertaking them.. After I'd been chased down by Mary from XOSIZE who was in need of the sprint points, the Men passed us again and the Cheif Comm stopped our bunch for 3 mins to let them get a gap. Great timing because after that effort I was stuffed! Definitely lacking in race k's in the legs! Never mind, I'd had some fun, got things going a bit, and now it was time to recover and look at the 30k climb up ahead.. Reaching the base of the climb, Vic Luxton (RACE) and I quickly dropped off the back, then rejoined, and then dropped off again, and set about a steady tempo to get in a nice training ride on a lovely sunny day. We came across Nic Whitburn who'd taken out the final sprints and been caught and spat by the bunch, and the 3 of us rolled up the hill as groupetto and finished together. Thank you to those girls, I've never enjoyed climbing Hotham more than I have on that day!

Vicki Whitlaw dominated the race yet again, winning all 3 stages. Everyone did an amazing job, and well done to all the SKCC girls who raced and placed above their expectations! A massive acheivement and I'm proud of you, especially those of you who were hesitant over racing A grade!

Whilst being competitve in the race would have been my ultimate goal, knowing where I'm at and where I've been, I walked away from the weekend with a massive smile on my face. One noteable member of my club felt that my 23rd place on GC was only 'Creditable', howver it's easy to judge when you don't know the story behind the results..

Now it's onwards and upwards. I've had a couple of solid weeks post Bright, and am looking forward to the next 3 weeks with Christmas, Bay Crits, and then my first attempt at racing the Nationals on the 8th of Jan.. Only 3 short weeks away..

Thanks to Jarrod Partridge ( for the amazing photo's!

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