Monday, 14 December 2009

Scott Peoples Race

Yesterday I raced Scotty Peoples race in Shepparton. I went out with the idea that it would be a good chance to get a workout and get blown off by the bunch sprint at the end. I had my arse handed to me on a plate.

We had a mass start for C (my grade), D and all of the women and girls. The first few km was neutralised.

Having worked myself up into a good position about 5 from the front, I thought I was in the right spot for the real racing to start. With a couple of hundred metres to go 'till the turn, dozens and dozens of riders came streaming past, suddenly putting me toward the back of the field and boxed in. The moment we turned it was on, the field smashing to pieces. I had to ride around riders and latch back onto the field several times before yet another gap opened up. To make matters worse there was no right spot to be. With a nasty right to left cross wind, it would have been good to ride the gutter. This, however, was broken and pot-holed, bringing down a couple of riders and seeing heaps of them riding off into the gravel.

Eventually, I just couldn't bridge the gaps any more and saw the main bunch riding off into the distance. Slowly we built up a little bunch of riders being shed from the front and found a few who were willing to work. We chased that bunch so hard for 40k, getting to within a 100m a few times, but just couldn't cross that last little bit.

I had a good finish within my little gruppeto, powering it to the line over the last few km and chasing down a couple attempted breaks. The good news was that I was able to power the group enough that it broke up quite substantially and I didn't get washed over by a pile of big legged sprinters at the line. So I'm learning something.

It was a great workout for a flat race. My heartrate monitor tells me I was working harder for that 75km than for the climb up Hotham last weekend. Once the race started in earnest, we covered the last 70 odd km at better than 40kph! This race was the first time I've used my fast race wheels with the new 12-21 cassette, it worked really well, allowing me to find the perfect gear, all the time. Even the hideous dead roads around Shep didn't seem too bad with 130psi in the tyres.

The race was really well run and organised with a really solid rolling road closure. This allowed for some interesting work through a few tricky corners but they had been well cleaned up to allow a fast racing line.

I'm sad that I really spoiled my race by getting caught out of position at the first jump. I'm sure I could have stayed with the front group if I hadn't stuffed that up but it's something to learn for next time.

Now bring on the hills!


Friday, 11 December 2009

Tour of Bright

Last weekend I competed in my first Tour of Bright. It's taken me a while to process everything enough to be able to write about it.

This is one of the best events I've ever been involved in. It pushed me to the edge of my ability and then a bit. It made me think about what I might be capable of. It scared the shit out of me. It was utterly spectacular. It was exhilarating. It made me feel alive.

The event itself was run superbly, with everything happening exactly when it was supposed to. This made warmups and planning so easy. The results were always up in the web before I got back to my appartment. The Commissaires managed to find a good balance between keeping the peloton under control, being helpful and non-officious.

The racing was hot and competitive yet mostly friendly and considerate. In my race with the MMAS4-5 Masters between 45 and 55 at least there were very few racing for sheep stations. At times the racing was scary with riders going down in a bunch of 80+ or crashing on high speed decent from Tawonga Gap. I somehow stayed rubber side down.

In the end I finished in 33rd place in my division which was ok. I really wanted to finish in the 20's but let myself down with a crap time trial. I didn't leave anything in the tank though, virtually falling off my bike at the finish. I just have to practice TT a whole lot more. Some aero-bars, a disk wheel, tear-drop helmet and a specialist TT bike might help but it's mainly down to me. For those interested, all the gory details can be found here.

The most lovely part of the weekend was the care and support I received from Endurogirl, who prepared food, cold baths, clothes, prodded me to get to the start line and all the other things I needed, despite the fact that she'd been feeling ill all week. This made staying focused on the job at hand really easy.

What Have I Learned?
  • I have a heap of work left to do before the Alpine if I'm going to set a time.
  • I really did need a 27 tooth cog to climb Hotham - I actually found this out the previous week on the Alpine Delight.
  • Sukkie Hydration really does seem to work. No cramping in the race or the Alpine Delight and I can still drink the stuff when I'm tired.
  • A really cold bath can be fun when your legs are shot to hell. Just don't turn on the spa!
  • At the end of a hard timetrial, keep your eyes open for road signs. (not me but it was ugly)
  • Never drink half a litre of fruit juice and half a litre of milk just before racing up Mt Hotham.
  • Don't EVER let anyone take a wheel off you in a bunch, they'll just do it again and again.
  • If you think attack seems like a good idea, then attack. Don't think about it.
  • Red shoes are faster.
  • A sunshine smile can wipe away the darkest time-trial cough.
For the first time I feel like a real bike racer. Racing in big pelotons, up real mountains, in a stage race. What a hoot!


Thursday, 10 December 2009


brutalised by icechill wind
and by each other
Inspired by the Alpine Delight