Easter Feaster of Racing Vets South Pacific & Vic Championships

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The idea was that we were going to do the Vets South Pacific Champs in Maryborough over Easter that we had heard about when we joined VVCC this year, stay in Ballarat with my family and travel each day over to the racing. In the end the reality was 2hrs of travelling a day, short & sharp racing, but not much family time :(

Cleaning up the bikes for the weekend
Friday started with the 45km Road Race. No route map was available online and the one in the booklet was illegible. My Kosdown team mates were warming up on course and I asked them to show me the final turns so I could practice the approach to the finish. They were not sure where the Women's route turned onto that final road though...We'll see if we can work out where the route goes during the race.

Lining up on the start line, I only recognised one face and matching bike - Laura White from the Horsham Handicap we'd raced earlier in the year. The low numbers meant we had a combined field of 6, 30-44yr old Women.

Road Race Start Line
We rolled out like a bunch ride and there were no attacks, surges or anything of note for 10km. We lost one rider due to a mechanical (I think) as her gears were making a lot of noise. I assumed that the attacks would come on the hills, the first one coming up I pushed the pace up a little on the first one. The next rise I threw in a more serious attempt. I attacked a number of times over the next 30kms of the course and was chased down and sat on every time by different riders. It seems they wanted a bunch sprint, as we were told on the start line we would get sashes and medals for our age category, but money only for the first 3 across the line.

A category 2 rider took off on the descent back into town and the whole bunch shattered to react. As we headed into the back blocks everything started to look the same, we followed the lead car at over 50km/h, at one intersection it went straight but the police woman was urging us left. First two riders followed the lead car, I doubled back and recognised the stretch of road back to the finsh. I had two riders on my wheel now and we were back in town. I swung off on the stretch of road back to the finish line but didn't want to get stuck. We would all place, all the attacks were aching in my legs now. I moved beside the other two riders who were both Cat 2, just as we got over the last rise I kicked to sprint to the line first!

New kit, happy racing!
I cooled down on the crit course and got to watch my mates from Cat 4+ roll in with the next bunch and 10mins later Shane and Simon in a duo break away! I was very excited and ready for presentations and a rest. Then I found out the presentations were linked to a dinner that was on after 6pm. As we had family waiting for us back in Ballarat for dinner, we had a delegate to collect on our behalf - Thanks Dale!

First EVER sash - so proud
Got home to show my sash to my parents and mum ran off to find something to top off the look.

Post race hair and a crown - Thanks Mum!
That night I prepared my bikes for the next day and I found my back wheel rubbing... I had broken a spoke during the race, and finished on it with that sprint! Wow! I have some new equipment on order, so I'm hoping this won't hold me back for long.

Powertap goes Kapow! (bent spoke for the pic)

Saturday was going to be a big day. 300m Sprints in the morning and TT in the afternoon. You could pick your speciality or do both to be a part of the overall points. My first attempt ever at a straight line sprint and it was a final as there were only one other entry.

Mad drag strip for bikes
I've done a few TT starts off ramps where you flow down and get stuck into the race. This sprint was off a ramp a little lower than one I had been on before and side by side your opponent. I made the mistake of watching the older male rider come off the side of the ramp on his start and it threw me or the handler who kept wrenching my bike around while I was ready and waiting to take off.

I started rolling and it was all bad, I headed to the left and off the side of the ramp - NO! I kept the bike upright, spun up the gear up - my opponent was up the road and accelerating away. I slammed it down a few gears and started gaining back some ground, the crowd was loving it and cheering us on. With the slight rise just before the end of the track I knew I had the speed and the distance left to win it. In practice I couldn't do the whole distance out of the saddle. In reality during race conditions I smashed it. Personally I would have like to re-do the sprint to get the start right, but that's racing!

The timing seemed to work by a commisare counting down to the start via radio to another guy manning the computer at the finish line. If you broke early, +2sec penalty on your time. If they hesitated on hitting the start button, your heat would be shorter/longer. If they didn't hear the radio of the start for your whole category, they forgot to record your time!! The women's 40-44 had to do their sprints twice in order for the timing to work. They were devastated and were totally wasted by the end of the morning. The results on the fastest time for all categories was a bit questionable.

The time trial was scheduled for the afternoon so we went for a coffee, rolled out to the course and back and had some lunch. The weather was overcast and grey and the wind was picking up.

Cool calm and collected on the roll from the start (still got my summer tan but for how long?!) Photo:Mark McRitchie

Shane was off first so I got a little bit of quiet time before my start an hour later. I was a little nervous as to how this ride would go and talked my way into borrowing some go-fast bits (helmet and bootie covers). The start was perfect, pushed into the headwind and took off for the first leg. At the turn around I worked out where/what they wanted me to do and took off for the return journey.

On the way back - holding form
This felt worse than the way out. The glutes were burning and power numbers were like a yo-yo. I couldn't hold what I needed to on the way back. I could feel my position change on the bike and by the end just got out of the saddle and punched to the finish line at the top of the climb. OUCH.

Pain face - gasping for air to the finish line.  Photo:Mark McRitchie
It took a little bit of time to recover from that ride. The whole journey home my legs were aching and wanting a break. Overall I came 1st in my category, and 3rd fastest time from the women. Definitely learnt a lot from an in-competition test.

First in the Sprint (sash) and 2nd in the TT (medal)

I don't mind a good crit. Throw a few riders together, mix it up with a closed street course and watch them try and pull each other apart.

This 20minute crit was pretty much an all-in affair. I wanted to secure a win and only the first 3 places would get prize money, so I needed to work hard to get there.

Anne Gourly went from the gun early then Dale countered. Dale's main competitor Amanda came across and the bunch was split across 500m, I bridged across to them. I looked back for Anne who decided she didn't need to come across and we formed a break in the first 3 mins of racing.

I was pretty excited and wanted it to keep going all race. The goal to to try to drop Amanda but in the end we ran out of time and I sat on the front and kept the pace high for most of the last lap. When it came to the finish I swung off and let the other 2 riders battle it out for their own category. Third overall for me and first for my category.

Crit in progress

What I would normally be enjoying on easter morning with my family - Mum sent us off with a care package. YUM!
An artist wife of a competitor takes up residence
in front of our car, sketching the racing scene
 As it was the end of the championship, we thought it was important to attend the final presentations - the problem was it was 7-8hrs later that evening. I went for a ride, put my feet up and watched some racing, had a nap, read my book... but really all I wanted to do was get the presentations done and spend that time with my family.

It was a good time to reflect on age based racing vs skill based racing. I firmly believe there is a valid reason and occasion for both.

Where there is a large field, you can cut it up either way. I would argue with a large field skill based grading is better and more fair on the riders. Whereas when the numbers are smaller, it seems fairer to the riders competing that their ages are taken into account so the 1 or 2 60+ ladies are not racing against 25yr old VIS athletes ready to make a name for themselves on the scene. You could group them on age categories or multiples therein.
An interesting mix of the two approaches is the SKCC club crit champs that will be on this weekend. It's an all-in race for all women, but there are also age categories in the same race. Oddly they do not recognise Masters 1 and only start the age categories from 35+ instead of the standard 30+ categories in Vets and Masters age group.

Back to the Vets - It was a good atmosphere and the meals were good size at the presentations. We had a table of 4 near the front. It was nice to hear how well everyone else had gone over the weekend, the competition was small enough that you could catch up with all the riders there. I picked up my sash for 1st in my age group and the overall win of the aggregate for my category.

Crit Champ WINNERS!
Big Kudos to my husband Shane Miller who won the overall most outstanding male performance for the championships and for the first year ever, they awarded a female prize. Dale Maizels won that for her hard work over the weekend. I'll have to work hard over the next year to try and keep her on her toes next Easter.

On the night entries closed, we decided to enter the 63km Handicap on the Monday as well. Little did we know how exhausted we would be from the daily 2hr drive and short sharp racing over the 3 days. A quick warmup on the Lemond stationary trainer was all I needed to roll out with the 17min bunch of 12 riders.
Rolling over the KOM - this is FUN!  Photo: Amanda Hosking
There were 3 bunches ahead of us and a heap behind us. Everything stayed pretty steady and even till the last 15km. There were a few hills in the back section, but we kept the pace pretty sedate over the top then started to push it a little faster on the way back to town. I was getting excited at this point and was given a few words to settle down on the rises, when we overtook a group and I couldn't help myself when I saw how many people were just sitting there on the way back into town, I had to try jump away at about the 10km to go. Laura, the last remaining female rider closed me down and the bunch sat on. A minute or so later I hear hollering and scratch is coming through like a train - Damn, timed it wrong and I was stuck on the other side of the bunch. Indicated that I wanted OUT and jumped on the mid-back of the pack.

We hit the last rise before the last left hand turn into town and I was scrambling to hold on. I see one blonde ponytail still in the lead pack, and then I hear Laura (still on my wheel) give up. I hold on for a moment longer and we're in no-man's-land together. Around the corner we go and up the final part of the climb and we're coming home fast. I've totally overcooked myself with the attack and the attempt to hang with scratch after a fairly cruisy bunch ride. I tried to roll a few turns with Laura who seemed keen to keep racing and direct her into the finishing straight. Hoping that ponytail I saw was just a crazy mullet on one of the guys, I kick for a sprint to the line for fastest unplaced female - but that was not to be. Leanne Dynon was in the bunch only a few seconds up the road got it.

It was a fun race, Shane was in scratch and came close to limit. Dan Ives from the 26 minute group ended up winning it. I think that was my 3rd handicap race and if they are done fairly, you can have a good go and come close to the win.

So overall we had a great time - but then we ended up stuck stationary 450m away from the Burnley St exit of the Burnley Tunnel. When we left Ballarat late on Easter Monday to avoid the traffic, but we were the ones that blocked the lane of the tunnel and were waiting for the emergency response vehicle to push us out and a tow truck to drive us home. I'd like to say it was some mechanical nightmare, but I think we just ran out of petrol!

outta go-juice

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