Mountains and Mole Hills

10:52 pm Unknown 0 Comments

There have been a few things progressing on the bike lately.

Start Line filling up
I had the opportunity to do the Ballarat Cycle Classic curtesy of the Eureka Veterans on the 10th of Feb and got in a solid 100km day. After working 15hrs the day before I was toasted by the end! I rolled out with the lead riders and have to admit that I didn't really study the route before we took off. I knew that it was going to head out to Mt Buninyong and beyond to Mt Egerton, but road specifics were a little vague. I made it out the first 25km with the lead riders pushing the pace, but by the time we hit the feed zone where the pro riders smash up the National's course on Mt Buninyong, I was struggling to spin with them, I could still see them crest the KOM, then they were GONE! At this point my knight in shining white K appeared and said, "Need a tow to get back onto the group?"
All smiles in my bright and visible long sleeve jersey - Perfect for Ballarat Weather
Shane chased FAST on the downhill but were no match for the group of 20+ riders. He probably could have bridged solo to them but it was his task not to drop me on this ride. We hit the next climb at Mt Egerton and could see the stragglers that had been dropped from the main group. We didn't see another rider for 30kms on the windy back roads that took us slowly and eventually back to Ballarat. At one point the course over lapped the 50km one and we started seeing more people flowing the same way back into town. By the time I got to the lake I was physically, mentally and emotionally exhausted from the 100km long ride.

There were 2x free beers for every adult entry...
Somehow I ended up with 4 cards. PARTY's ON ME!

The next weekend away to Horsham was for the yearly Triathlon where Shane competes in a mixed team bringing home the bike leg in speed and style. The Saturday morning I managed to get a HOT, windy training day in again with repeats of Mt Arapiles. In the evening team Tripod won their category again (without any stops for wedding proposals or announcements this time).

Team Tripod wins again!
The next morning I got a taste of my first Veterans Handicap Cycling race with Grampians Vets. It was the first time Shane and I were to compete in a race together, normally we're in different grades, categories and times. Shane and I rolled out to start at 7.30am, it was the only time it was nice and cool for the day. This was a fun 46km Handicap where I had a bit of a head start (6mins) in second scratch to try keep the scratch bunch away. 
The official rider board... nice!
As the race unfolded I was with 3 other guys rolling good turns, we caught the next bunch in front of us in the last 10kms and got swept up with Scratch. When I realised they were coming through like a steam train I jumped in with Shane and only 1 other guy Geoff made it into the scratch bunch. 
Finally we dropped the rest of the riders, swept past the limit riders (those that started first) and I rolled turns or sat on with the 4 other riders till Shane attacked with 3kms to go for the win. I popped off the back and soloed home for 6th place. 
Post Race Smiles - like a sunrise!

Earlier in Feb I picked up a Mountain Bike to start practising my bike handling skills for the Mont 24hr race next month in March. Sometimes it seems to flow and I'm in the groove and I've got it nailed, then I freeze up at the top of a hill or at the bottom of a climb and lose all my momentum. 

Is this more machine than I can handle?!
The good thing is that I don't have toe overlap like on my road bike, the bad thing is that it is a little small in the frame size and it feels pretty scary like I'm going to go over the handle bars on any decent descent. So I'm starting on easy trails and stuff that flows, I've checked out the Westgate park nice and slowly, only 1 minor stack over the bars. Shane took me out to some of the trails near home off Kew Boulevard. I found a few in Richmond near the Yarra Boulevard and will keep on looking for some more to practice near home. Seems that people like to let their dogs wander free off leads along these style of paths, which you have to look out for.

There are a few more Criterium races coming up so I managed to convince a few ladies to come along to the Coburg Crits on Saturday 23rd Feb. I registered for mixed C-Grade as I have previously done, then got talked into doing Men's B-Grade by my team mate Emma Pane. I was not really sure what to expect so I just treated it like the rest of the A-Grade Women's races. The pace was high and not too surging which suited me fine. I tried to sit up near the front for the first 20mins of the race to keep out of trouble and go with anything that moved. Not much got away, only 1 or 2 riders and it was all together for the last few laps. 50mins +3 ended up being a little longer. I hope my desperate face and miming to Abby on the side lines got through and we were finally up for the final sprint. I got popped right in the back straight before the final corner as the pace kept cranking up and up! It felt like I was going nowhere once I dropped out of the peloton on the descent into the finish, but I picked past a few stragglers over the line and finished 1st Woman. It was a really good race experience, the wheels were good experienced riders and nobody was doing any dodgy moves so I'd like to see if I could hold in there again and maybe finish somewhere in the final sprint some day.

That evening we scrubbed up and went down to the Cycling Victoria Awards night (categories and nominees). 

Ready for the CV awards night!
Shane was nominated for Male Masters Cyclist of the Year for 2012. He's been smashing records and winning anything on a TT bike that he can find for the last few years and it's been so much hard work driven towards this awesome hobby that he gets so much out of. It was great to see him recognised as a nominee from the state body Cycling Victoria at the awards night.

The first thing I noticed when I walked in the door was the platters of oily fried food in stark contrast to the usual roadie diet. The second thing I noticed after I got past the platters intact, was there was a LOT of non-roadie people here, wait a second - a lot of them are kids and families... we're at the combined BMX awards night! I didn't know that BMX was under the same banner, but it was great to hear about their organisation and the wins these guys and girls have been a part of in the last 12 months.

Shane's category came up early in the list and he was a winner!!

Male Masters Cyclist of the Year 2012 - Shane Miller
He gave a short speech that was touched on by the President of CV later in the evening, that Masters Cyclists make up a large part of the CV membership and it's great to see in 2013 that there are more categories and races catering to them.

One of the biggest draw cards for me as an adult learning a new sport and coming into it later in life (than the teenager/elite groups), is that I can compete against women and/or men my own age in age based events. For me that was a road block in my 20's when I saw that if I wanted to race my bike, I'd be up against the best elite women riders and come in 20-30mins off the pace. There WAS no competition! At that time women's racing was so small the numbers were not there to have skill based grading/categories (A/B/C-Grades) that we can see today at CV and club based competition.

I am proud to say that I have seen this evolve over the short few years I have been racing, and am happy to see my peak sporting body grow and evolve with those changes. Cycling in Victoria is GREAT!

I remember the day I bought my first car - not too long ago. It was it's first long drive and I took it along to one of Shane's races. It was out the other side of Melbourne somewhere, and I was going to pick Shane up at the mountain top finish. I wasn't really paying attention to the route and I was concerned about how I was going to find my way to the finish 100kms away with no map provided by Shane or the race organisers!
As Shane was in A-Grade I just tagged onto the convoy up to the finish line and went, "Wow this must be a tough race, there are guys pushing their bikes up the final climb!"

Welcome to my introduction to Mt Baw Baw.

Only looking a little tired and apprehensive before we began
On Sunday I finally gave it my first and almost certainly LAST attempt. I'm not a natural mountain goat, but I do enjoy a nice ride up in the mountains. Baw Baw is something else entirely and not that. Well, to be fair, I only did the last part from Tanjil Bren to the top. I have to thank The Climbing Cyclist who tempted me out as part of the Hells 500 and 7 Peaks Challenge rides. Highly recommend going on their future events. With their no-drop policy I knew I would be in good hands if I got in trouble up the EPIC climb.

We don't normally head out that way for racing or training, so it was a nice change and I even managed to coax Shane along to something that was not a race!
I had fun sitting on the first few riders to roll out on the 4km descent, and then started a comfortable pace on the lower part of the climb. Riding on 5% grade for a 5.5kms, Shane and I were chatting and sharing lollies while we ticked off the kms. A few serious looking riders over took me and then Shane said "Oh, we're here already!" and took off. I yelled at him to have fun and I looked at my Garmin, we'd hit the start of the 10% + section. I hammered away wondering how long it lasted and then remembered, having done all my homework the night before studying the gradients and nuances of the climb. I thought I was prepared.

After 1.4kms I was coooked! I didn't know if I could go slower and stay upright on the bike, but there was no way I was stopping for a breather as there was no starting again. I had a gel at the left turn thinking "I don't think I'll get another chance to eat this". Good thing I did because it got stuck in my pocket and the next part of the climb was HELL! Horse flies were biting me on the butt and for the next 2km guys were weaving across the rd in front of me, sweating buckets, seated didn't help, standing was horrible. 1km from the top Shane drops back down to "talk me up the climb" it was helpful and at the same time I wanted to kill him. I was frustrated I couldn't spin faster or hold my power higher - it was survival.
Recovered and ready for the descent. YAY! WOW that is fast.
I did make it to the top and sure enough felt fine after a cool drink and a light snack. The descent was super fun and fast. Glad I didn't need to pick my way through other riders to get down as the road surface was not the best and you needed all your concentration for it. Here is the official write up from the climbing cyclist (we get a mention).

All I could think about during the drive home was the trifle I was planning on making when I got home for the Kosdown Performance Cycling BBQ that night.
My first attempt at Trifle - All flavours were there.
Need to work on the custard consistency
More crits and fun times to be had this coming weekend to work off the trifle. Another trip to Horsham and Cykel round 3 - the return to Casey Fields.

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