Mansfield Crit

10:45 pm Unknown 0 Comments

I like to consider Mansfield Mt Buller Road Race the start of the road season. 2 years ago I was champing at the bit for my first real road race and I signed up for this. A rude awakening after only racing crits for what seems like months and longer weekend rides. I remember forgetting to bring enough food and bonking on the climb - worst ride back to town afterwards.
2011 - SKCC Ladies on the start line of B-Grade Mansfield Mt Buller Road Race. Lets RIDE! — Von with Michelle Mcmahon, Fiona Neuwirth and Nicole Ternel.

Last year I made it to the top but cracked on the climb. Bonked on the way back to town - even holding Shane's wheel and swore I'd never do that race again. This year, no sag wagon back to town and I couldn't mentally commit to the mountain.

2012 - Mansfield Crit
I do love a good challenge though, so I entered the Mansfield Crit in Women's A-Grade. I entered early and went about my training realising that it fell the same weekend as the Oceania Championships so some of the top riders would be in Canberra racing that event. Then the Cycling Victoria Gradings came out a few weeks later and I was in Women's-B Grade.So with my grading, I thought they would put me right into B-Grade for the Mansfield Crit when they shuffled the entries. The Friday before the event I checked the lists and I was still in A-Grade. I wasn't too phased by the lack of change as I finished with the A-Grade bunch at St Kilda, but I didn't get a chance to email them on the Friday to change it either. I thought I'd see how I go.

The long awaited Kit update had finally come around. I had worked on a few designs with the team boss and the designers took a few of my ideas and wrapped them into the final design. A new manufacturer, and a women's cut and I was excited to wear it for the first time.

When I arrived in Mansfield it was raining, it had rained the last hour of the drive... I was hoping it would either dry up quick smart or it would get called off early and they'd give me an entry to the road race instead. I went back to the accommodation, kicked Shane off the ergo and started a warm up.
New kit fit like a glove, and I was sweating buckets while the roads started drying out. I rolled down to the start line totally PUMPED and ran through a few laps. It was funny when it took a few seconds recognition when I said Hi to the ladies on course - new KIT!

2013 - New kit on show in central Mansfield

I remembered the course pretty well from last year, it is a moderately technical hot dog or lower case t-shape. I got to the start right on the line so that I could get around the hairpin a few meters away in a good position.
BANG! We were away and through the first corner before you knew it. Sprinting down the short arm of the T I hit the inside line of the next corner without any problems, around the car-park hairpin and down to the headwind back section to the bottom hairpin. With enough speed you don't need to pedal through this as all.  The long drag up the main straight that has a slight up-hill across the finish line and you're back at the top hairpin over the speed hump.  2-3 laps in and we're only about 5mins into the 40min race, someone cuts across from the outside line across to the inside line on the hairpin corner. We're going slow, I hear a crunch of wheels, I look back and there is a pile of carbon and look up to see the leaders sprinting away.
Scrambling along to latch back on, I realise that there is no way we're going to be allowed to race on. Yet the bunch hits each corner hard and fast, trying to unhitch me.
We pass the start/finish and the commissaries are flagging us to neutralise and slow down as there is a rider down on the course - maybe the leaders didn't know there was a bad crash? They know now rolling past but kick again out of the corner and keep hitting each corner hard. About 5 mins later the riders that were caught up in the crash rejoin, while the rider is still down.
I drop off the back while the other riders are yo-yoing and chase back on. I fight my way back to the front and we're back racing full steam with a clear course again.
Sprinting out of the top hairpin with Lisa Hanley.
About 25mins in a good attack is launched from the bunch and it splits the field. I'm chasing on for a few laps and realise I'm not making any ground anymore. They ring the bell for B-Grade to finish and I watch Grace Phang launch from about 5 wheels back in the final corner to sprint up for the win. Manuela pulls off a 2nd place and I miss who comes in 3rd as I notice the leaders of A-Grade have picked up the pace again and I'm about to get lapped!  DAMNIT! 2laps to go and I'm caught in no-mans land. They pull me out of the race on bell lap and I get to watch Nicole Whitburn rip up the final straight for the win. Well maybe B-Grade would have been a better race for me next time.

I went for a cool down ride, got changed and went to watch the other racing. There was some excellent racing and some good showmanship on display. The weather being a little more wet and cold, there was not so many people hanging around to watch the show as last year.

Best wishes to Fi Carden (the rider caught up in the crash) for a speedy recovery.

The next morning was the road race. It felt like I had barely slept a wink overnight and was glad I was not racing up the hill. It was COLD in the morning, the boys I was staying with did not pack like a woman and I shared out my 3 undershirts of varying thickness. I got to the start line and loaned out my arm warmers, and supplied a water bottle to another rider who had forgotten theirs. Coffee in hand I a took a few pics on the side line and jumped in the car to head to the base of the climb.

On the side of the mountain waiting for the boys to stomp past.
Unpacking the bike at the toll booth I didn't get much of a warm up. Straight up the hill, I was trying to estimate where on the climb the Masters-A group was going to catch me. B-Grade came through in drips and drabs, I took off my glove and ate some fruit cake and prepared for taking some photos of the Masters field when they were going to roll through. Higher and higher I climbed, when finally the lead car came past. I pulled over and took a few pics. Shane was sitting 2nd on the road looking frustrated, but strong. I made it under Horsehill chairlift when the group caught up with Slane driving the train.
Layers - it's all about the layers!
I ticked it up to the top watching my breath frost over, caught a few pics of the podium and descended while I was still vaguely warm. We packed the car full of people and bikes to drive back to town. Heater blasting to warm back up. We survived the mountain this time, I am sure there will be many more climbs to come.
A little grasshopper that hitched a ride on my sunroof back from the mountain!

2012 - Finish in B-Grade I came in 4th

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