Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Going in to Battle!

Battle on the Border appears to be the QLD version of the Tour of Bright. A QLD long weekend with grades A-C for Men, Masters and Women, plus some juniors racing! 500 competitors over all the grades, but no mountains to ride up, some lovely warm weather and a location next to the beach. Sounds pretty great to me!
The depleted team!

The Pro sign on board..
We went in to Battle already outnumbered. 2 team mates had been detained by their places of employment, and a 3rd was recovering from injuries sustained in the previous NRS fight. We tried to call in reinforcements, however several girls made the decision not to come which they would later regret when they saw all the photo’s of most of the peloton enjoying their recovery time at the beach.

Day 1 was a 7.2k TT in the morning. I’d decided not to take the TT bike because it’s a major hassle to fly with, and then couldn’t find my clip on bars before I left. Oh well! Carly and I both posted solid mid field rides about 1m20 down on the super TTer Beck Wiasak of Suzuki.
Putting the feet up between stages on Day 1. Probably Instagramming the sh*t out of it...
 A couple of hours later and we were kitted up again on the start line of the 98km road stage. This race had a couple of steep climbs, some rolling hills, and a lot of bumpy water damaged road! Almost 70 girls in the bunch, with the usual first day jitters, plus the fact that the lead Police vehicle didn’t know how to control traffic, resulting in cars on the other side of the road hurtling at us at 80kph, it made for a stressful race. I thought I’d made it through safely until just over 10k to go where someone went skittling sideways in front of me, and I was on the deck. Chain back on the bike and a quick chase through the convoy and I was thankfully back safely at the front of the bunch. Ruth Corset, super mum, ex National Champ, having only just retired from the Euro Peloton, attacked up the climb on the 2nd lap of the course and solo’d away from everyone and took the win comfortably by a minute. I finished in the main bunch, thankful to have most of my skin still intact.

Hot weather, hot racing!

Day 2 and more sunshine, today’s stage was another loop – 85k and 2 goes up the QOM of the day. Not steep or long enough to split the bunch unfortunately – which 12 months ago is not something I ever thought I would say! – but long enough to cause a fair bit of pain. At the start of the 2nd lap I was caught napping at the back of the bunch again, and missed the move of the day. Steph Ives, along with Zoe Watters & Narelle Hards managed to get away from the bunch and were never seen again until the finishing straight! After the 2nd time over the QOM I tried to get across, and whilst I could see them up ahead, the gap was too far and the bunch too intent on not letting anyone else away. Another bunch finish…
Vollies from the local TAFE gave us free post-race Massages! Pro!

The great thing was, our race was over by lunch time, this meant that we got to spend the afternoon recovering at the beach and eating Gelati from the local ice cream store in Kingscliff! I could get used to that kind of lifestyle…

My kind of recovery...
3rd and Final Day was a technical 1.1km Crit circuit. I was excited. Traditional crits don’t suit me as I’m clearly not a sprinter, but the fast technical ones are becoming a favourite of mine. The goal was to stay safe up near the front of the bunch and have a crack if the legs were there nearer to the end of the race. Well I did, and they were there, but nothing was getting away from the Pensar Hawk team. VIS superstars Chloe and Lisa were super active throughout the race, trying to get a break established, but unfortunately it wasn’t to be. Ruth showed how amazing she was by basically controlling the whole race herself, marking all of Chloe’s attacks, and then in the end leading out the last 2 laps and still winning the bunch kick when it was apparent her sprinter wasn’t able to come around! I managed to get around some dropped wheels and fight my way back to the leaders and finish off the tour with a top 10 on the stage.

Whilst I would have liked to have gone better, overall I’m ok with how the tour went. How could you be unhappy with weather like we experienced?!

Special thanks to Nadine Le Mescam and Ryan Moody for the photo's. And to Nadine for helping both Carly and I out during the racing. Made life much easier.. And those Banoffee TORQ gels.... Rocket Fuel!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Tour of Mersey Valley - Team Race Report!

Held in Mersey Valley Tasmania, the first round of the Womens Nation Road Series was raced over challenging terrain in equally challenging conditions. 3 stages over 2 days compromising a Time Trial and 2 hilly Road Stages, the Women’s Total Rush team were looking forward to racing against Australia’s best.

Cosy accommodation on the Spirit of Tassie

The Stage 1 Time Trial was 15km of flat to undulating dead country roads, finishing with a nice little pinch just before the finish line that was guaranteed to finish you off and make you hurt. Suzuki/Trek rider Beck Wiasak took out the Stage with her usual impressive TT, with 2 of Total Rush’s team members not too far off the pace in the top 15. Thankfully the conditions stayed dry with only a small amount of wind, but that was soon to change!

After heading back to the Accomm for some food and recovery, it was quickly time to get kitted up again and head out to the start of the 2nd Stage. The drizzle had set in, and the temps were dropping, so the team were extremely grateful to have just taken delivery of leg and arm warmers and some stylish rain jackets from Specialized which kept them warm and dry on the 15k ride out to the start!

The warm gear was quickly ditched for the 58km race from Forth to Moina, which finished with a 5.1km climb which averaged 8.3%, with the final couple of kms averaging up to 10%! Some steep pinches only 10km in to the race split things up, however most of the bunch regrouped on the road following. Unfortunately TR rider Carly Williams had some bad luck and punctured only 20km in to the race and was missed by the spares car, resulting in her not being able to complete the stage. Leading in to the final climb was a twisty, technical descent, and the pace was on during the climb to get there first. Amy and Tanya made the front bunch, and hurtled down the descent knowing it could make or break the race for them. Hitting top speeds of almost 80kph and tackling hairpin bends, we were thankful that we were on our rock solid Specialized Amiras which handle like a dream.

The race exploded on the climb, and Holden Cycling’s Miranda Griffiths showed she’s the climber to beat this year taking an impressive win ahead of Lisa Jacobs. Amy held on for 5th Elite about 90 seconds down and moved in to 5th on GC. The rest of the team finished strongly and were looking forward to the next day!

Finishing the tough climb. Yep, 10%.. ouch.
More rest, more food, and staying rugged up was on schedule for the evening before heading off the next morning to Stage 3 which was starting and finishing in Sheffield – known as the city of Murals. The rain from the previous day was still hanging around and the temps were quite chilly again. Stage 3 was a 92km Road Race incorporating 2 laps of a tough hilly circuit in the middle and finishing with a 5k climb followed by 5k of undulating roads. The first time up the QOM a selection was made with Amy making the front split of 12 riders. Half way around the loop an attack came from U19 rider Ellen Skerritt, which Amy decided to try to bridge to not long after. Not quite making it, she rejoined the group behind to recover for another trip up the steep QOM climb. Not long over the top of this climb Ellen was reeled in, and the front bunch was down to 11 riders. The group worked well together and put more time in to the chasers, until the final climb of the day when Miranda Griffiths attacked trying to gain some time on GC leader Lisa Jacobs. Lisa managed to go with her, and they rode away to take 1 / 2 on the day and on GC. Amy stayed with the lead bunch in to the finish and managed to place 3rd elite across the line. This meant the team had managed to secure 3rd on GC! A great result given it was their first NRS race together.

The final selection on the last stage.
 A big thanks to Bec Domange who was our Team Manager/Swanny for the weekend, Total Rush for getting our Amira’s running smoothly, and of course thanks to Specialized for the great winter gear which made the weekend’s weather bearable!

Next up for the team is NRS #2 – Battle on the Border, starting May 5 near Tweed Heads in NSW. Carly, Amy & Liz will be making the trip and are hoping for some slightly better weather conditions!