Tour of Bright

The Tour of Bright

This race has been on the cards for a few months now and it was time to meet my "fears".

1. Road Racing in general.  Fear of the unknown. How good are these girls?  What if I cant keep up?
2. Hills, hills and more hills.  Rosewhite Gap, Tawonga Gap and of course Hotham.  Not my best leg of any race, would I be able to do it competitively?
3. Time Trial.  Having done one ride on my TT bars over a month ago, all I knew was that I had to go hard.  Scared silly!

Four of us took the trip to Bright. 
Me, Norm, Saskia and Calum. 
Me and Cal were the only ones riding(or racing), but Saskia came to watch and Norm to do bike maintenance and drive the car.

Arriving Thursday afternoon, Calum and I tested out the Time Trial course and then went up the easy side of Tawonga Gap to test out the descent.
An easy 55km in the legs, feeling happy to be here. 
Pizza and salad for dinner tonight.

Friday was time to get the legs out again for an easy roll to ovens and back.
Another flattish 55km done, coffee and cake and a bit of recovery in Morses creek for the legs.
Pizza and salad for dinner tonight - again!
Off to bed around 10pm, ready to roll for an early start tomorrow.

Saturday, stage 1, Cal had to start in Bright and I was starting at Ovens.
I did not get to see the mens race start.  womens a, b & c grades and masters 6+ were starting on the turn off to Rosewhite at ovens.
One Port - a - loo to get rid of pre race nerves for this category of riders meant some long waits in a line that just had to be tolerated.
Thankfully, as nervous as I was, B Grade women did not do stupid things in the first 20 kms and we rode along doing turns like a happy Sunday morning bunch ride.
Of course, the tempo lifted as we approached the Rosewhite Gap climb. 
My aim: to stay in touch or keep an eye on the bunch. 
Initially I could not adjust to the change of pace and got dropped with numerous others.
Never one to give up, I just dug deep and did what I could to pass these riders to the top and made up time on the descent on the other side.
The splintering of riders soon regrouped back on the Kiewa Valley and we rode at a steady tempo all the way to the Tawonga Gap turnoff.
We never caught the break away group of 4 riders, the Prime Real Estate girls and Claire.
Katherine Riddoch is a machine and powered away at the base of the climb like she was in the Big dog doing 50rpm. 
Knowing my limits and keen to survive the climb, I settled into a maintainable tempo, adjusting gears to give me rest then going hard again and powering along.
By the time I got to the top, I had passed a few B grade women riders and mens masters riders too. 

Cresting the climb, I got out of the saddle, grabbed the big chain ring, gave it a couple of hard pedals, down in the drops and willed myself to pick up as many riders as I could on the descent.

Before long, I realised I was defintely in contention for 5th place if I played my cards right. Stephanie Hansen, who is only 16 and such a light weight, grabbed my wheel and we did a bit of work together but she was too slow on any little roller and I was scared of being caught by the girls behind.

So I did a bit too much work, and suffered for it. As we rounded the left corner to the finish line, I had no idea how far the finish line was. Steph sat on, and I gave her a free ride for a nice clean finish. so I came 6th, happy to have survived and secretly chuffed that I am not as bad as I thought with this road racing gig. 

Off to the cosy Kangaroo for a recovery chocolate milkshake. 
Then back to Morses Ck for some more cold water therapy on the legs...bbbrrrr.


Stage 2. Individual Time Trial. 

Being a avid hater of short bursts of hurt, this is a discipline that I am yet to conquer.

I have tried out my TT bars once, and now today will be my 2nd time ever.
So advice so far has been, "ride it like the first lap of a XC MTB race", "ride with nothing left at the end", "its all about HR and cadence"....and the list goes on.

Very nervous, almost to the point of jelly legs and sick stomach, I settled my nerves with the reassurance to myself that I knew how to hurt and that this was my first effort, just get out there and do it.
And do it I did. Not the most magical time, around 26 mins. But ok for a roadie set up with some last minute TT bars.
Finished thinking I could have gone harder and most of all, came mid field in B grade women. Cool!

More cold water - off to a magical spot along Morses ck, a big water hole, rocks and flowing water that is oh so cold.

Butter chicken, cooked by Cal and Sas, roast chicken bought by Norm, rice and salad for dinner tonight.

Stage 3. The Mt Hotham climb. 
Only about 55km from Bright to the top of Hotham.
B grade women did a marvelous job once again of keeping it tidy and nice on the way to Harrietville.

A couple of sprints along the way, but regroup of bunch happened quickly.
The left turn onto the Hotham climb splintered the group instantly. Katherine Riddoch "freak hill climber" was off in an instant.
No one bothered following and she as on her own. I had to work hard to get back on the main bunch, and did so for the next 5kms. 
As we were approaching the Meg, a hairpin turn with a very steep 400mt ascent, the Commissaire's vehichle told us that Katherine was 2 1/2 minutes up on us already!
The Meg had a KOM, and this is where the bunch was splintered again.
My mind said "stay with them", my legs would not respond however. 
Feeling slow and heavy, I just had to survive and try and pick it up as it flattened out.
One girl in front and one behind kept me honest. 
Our wheels were never to meet for the rest of the 20km of the climb, but I kept pushing to catch and Steph behind me kept me working hard the ENTIRE way. When I realised I had 20km of climbing to go, with a flattish section in between, initially I was exhausted at the prospect, but then told myself that as each km ticked by I was getting closer, just focus on this! ...and low and behold, as I was approaching Mt St Bernard, I knew it would be tough going, but I was nearly there.

Its not until you get to the final 2kms that the climb is near impossible.
I had put on a 12-27 cassette and my cadence got down to 50rpm and 8.8kmph! Oh that hurts just writing it.
I tried to get out of the saddle to lift my pace, but I found I had more power in the saddle.
As I got to the top, instantly I knew I did not want to ride back down. 
Too many riders, too many cars, and I was too stuffed!
2hrs 36 minutes and I was all done. 
Disappointed that I could not have done it a few minutes faster, with the main bunch, but happy to have completed the 3 stages and come 7th overall (and missed out on 5th by 30 odd seconds!)
The drive down was long and congested. Cyclists and cars everywhere.

Off to Bright for nachos and chocolate milkshake...mmmm! Recovery.

A 30 min swim at the waterhole on Morses ck again. 
We had some rock climbing practice here too. Much fun. pack up, drive home.


The wash up:

1. I am not as sore as a MTB race of equivalent time or difficulty, but am more tired.

2. It was sort of fun, I think I may do it again.

3. I would not have come last in A grade women. Thats promising.

4. Bright is lovely and I will go there again soon.

5. Have to get better at hills which means that I have to find a power:weight ratio that is a bit leaner than what it is now. Bye bye chocolate. Hello exercise.

6. The girls in B grade Women were friendly and approachable, maybe its just C grade men who are the dick heads in road racing.

Whats next???

on the cards:
1. Rd #2 Vic state series XC race at Upper Beaconsfield 20th December.
2. Australian national Road champs 9th January at Bunningyong.
3. MTBA National XC Champs in Adelaide on 16th January.  Elite women XCO.
4. Husky 100 MTB enduro
5. Otway odyssey 100km MTB race on 20th Feb.

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