Training the house down

10:48 pm Unknown 0 Comments

I competed in my first Northern Combine race for the year on Saturday out at Broadford. It was the Brunswick Cycling Club's John Sewell Memorial Handicap. Three laps of a 33km circuit to make it 100km Handicap of hill lovin' fun! Well, that was the idea.

Bike - Ready to roll and race

I took a look at the initial list and didn't know any of the names - so didn't know how to compare myself against these guys. I was in the 22 min group with 10 guys and Carly Williams who I have ridden with before so we would have a good day out. The start line was a little way out of town and up a hill. My team mate Emma Pane had mentioned that I should give myself some time to get out there and that the hill was not nice. She was right and it felt like climbing a shelf to get out of town!

For part of my warm-up I rolled the reverse of the last few kms up to the finish line. Each lap we would ride this massive roller coaster that climbed up and up and up to the top.

I found Carly on the start line and we had a chat about tactics, but with the hills, wind, and calibre of riders we'd be lucky to hang on. The start was downhill tailwind so I was fine rolling turns with the guys on this, then we hit the mini-berg at about 10kms in and I was scrambling to stay with the guys. I'd slipped off the back of the group with 3 others and we clawed our way back to hold on. One guy didn't keep up at this point.

The next section was FAST. I hit 54km/h doing rolling turns and hung on on the skinny straight road with on-coming cars it was a little scary, but everyone was communicating well - shouting out nice and loud and allowing space for riders to go single file. We lost anther guy on this section due to a flat tyre. The next section seemed pretty straight forward on the map (up to climb 3 from the course profile) and I hit my max 5min power for the ride hammering up that climb. These riders were on a mission and rolling the wrong way into the head wind when the course changed directions.

I think it was around hill 4 or 5 that I dropped off the back, never to see that bunch again. There was one Blotto rider that had dropped off the group just in front of me and I chased to catch on, I convinced him to come along for the next lap and then his team mate soon appeared up the road. We refuelled for the next lap on the downhill start section we'd just made it to the mini-berg when the next bunch caught us. I was sitting on the back of the pack at the base when a Cycles Galleria kit (Orange and Black) cut straight in front of me into the tight right hand corner, not holding his line and nearly taking out my front wheel. My two Blotto mates who were on my wheel screamed out at him and I washed off my speed - making the start of the berg that little bit harder. The guys were NOT waiting at the top of this 7% climb and I was off the back again. Puffing like a steam train I tried to close the gap and one of the Blotto guys gives me a push and I'm there, but he's gone. I sit on the back to try recover and call the guys through.

Rolling through the finish line for lap 2 to start with by mate Blotto.  Photo: Michael McRitchie

It wasn't long till we picked up Carly and we travelled along together at the back for a bit, then the road started to go up and the pace went up further, more guys were dropped and soon I was too. Ten kms later and I hear Ben (Emma's boyfriend) call out from behind to jump on. They were coming like a freight train behind me. I caught on mid-pack and then we caught Carly again and we were all punching up the next few climbs. It was getting towards the end of the second lap where I got dropped on another hill, two more bunches came through and I could tell the home stretch was coming up. I look back and I see scratch ripping up the road, as they pass me I hear cheers out from all the guys and James Pane asks if I was ok. It felt like I was standing still as they tinkled up the hill in front of me!

The last lap was lonely. This was the nasty part of the 100km - this was the "training" part of the ride when you're no longer part of the race, no hope for any good things to come, everything hurts, nobody is talking on the road and you've just got to get it done. I passed a few guys, a few sat on my wheel, one guy rolled one turn and the rest was solo right to the line.

Rollin Solo.  Photo: Michael McRitchie

A big thanks to all the guys who hollered out to me on the road, even just to say "Hi Von" from the bunches passing. It made me feel part of the community and not in a hostile bike race where I had no hope of winning. The event ran smoothly from my perspective, even though I finished later than most, I was still greeted on the finish line by the officials.

Big congratulations to my team mates Emma Pane winning first unplaced female and James Pane for coming in 5th in a quality field.

My swanny Manni had me covered when I got back to the car with a fresh beverage and a wet towel to wipe off the salt. I was more than grateful for the chauffeur home after a tough day out.

Cold Sunday morning recovery ride goodness at Top Paddock.

Next weekend is Tour of the Southwest in Warrnambool. I'll be fielding a team in A-Grade Women and looking forward to a nice sleep at the Lady Bay Resort (I won the accommodation prize featured in last week's Cycling Victoria newsletter).

Next month I've been invited to sit on a panel for the Women's Social Media and Cycling Forum. I hope you've enjoyed reading my blog, following my twitter feed, checking out my mini-movies. I've had great feedback so far and would love to hear your thoughts on what you like about my reports that keep you coming back for more.

Sunday 12th May is the Mother's Day Classic where I will be WALKING with my family as part of team "Micich Mafia" to raise funds for breast cancer research. Yes, on Mother's Day with my MUM (who is a breast cancer survivor) we'll be taking steps to save lives by helping fund the best breast cancer research. You can help us too by donating online here. I have to admit, this will be the longest I've walked in a long time and I haven't been doing any training, but if my Mum can do it, I should be fine to finish it ;)

This week I've also recieved official notification that my ride at Amy's Grand Fondo in 2012 has qualified me for a start at the UCI World Cycling Tour which is essentially the UCI World Championships for masters and amateurs. I've won a free ticket and this year it is held in the northern alps of Trento, Italy on 22nd September. I have to admit, this was not on my radar of events but has started to make me consider it with a free entry...

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