Vic Masters Crit Champs

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Well, I was feeling prepared, the day before the crit. A sunny day on Saturday in April, went for a roll down back road and back with Hawthorn Cycling Club, coffee with their president, and brunch with the lovely birthday girl of the week Kat Lee at the super trendy Top Paddock.

I finally wrangled the apartment into some state of sanity, wiped the bike down and checked over the tyres, arranged the kit ready for Sunday and watched a movie. (Django Unchained is a great violent action movie)

When I set my alarm for the next morning, I would have plenty of time to pack the bike in the car and go. When my body clock woke me up, I had even more time on top of the daylight savings time. How good are sleep-in's!

I arrived over 1hr before the start of the Victorian Masters Criterium at Castlemaine. At registration I was not sure who was in the race as Miranda Griffiths was on the start list, but Liz Hall was not on there and was warming up already. They made us pay for the race booklet that straightened out who was who for my race - as they were putting all Masters Women in the same race.

As a Victorian Championship race, we were not in it for money or overall line honours - just the medals per age category. In the end I had only one other competitor and it was not Miranda Griffiths, it was Danielle Garden, who I think came to race last year.

The course is a 700m rectangle shape a hill climb of about 5% for 160m on one of the short sides and a 120m sprint to the finish line from the last corner.

We rolled out easy, easy up the hill as the men from the previous race were still on course cooling down! A few yells from the front of the bunch sent them scooting off course and out of the way. 25mins was the total race time, this was going to be fast hot race. 

All smiles on the start line - let's get down to business!

I used the first few laps to work out how fast and what line to take each corner as I didn't get out on course before the race. I sat about fourth wheel and when I got to the front about the sixth lap about 7mins into the race I hit it hard just after the base to the top. This was the fastest time up the climb and going 35km/h. Another rider counter attacks and we chase back on, the next two laps were easier up the climb at about 20-24kmp/h.

At about 10mins into the race, someone attacks on the main straight right before the climb, I see Liz attack across and hit the base of the climb to bridge across right as we chase up behind. Frustrated and not sure what to do, I needed to get across and attacked up the climb again. This "burnt a match" for me in the race and I started to feel like I needed to race smart. I was left in no-man's-land with Danielle and the pace was off on the next lap. The next time round the pace was back on and attacked along the main straight and then up again on the climb and over the back straight. Argh, it was sapping in the heat and the next two laps were easier - Liz and her breakaway mate was out of sight.

Danielle and I swapping off laps and attacks.
The rest of the race we kept alternating fast and easy laps with either of us attacking each other as our energy levels went up and down. I sat second wheel into the bell lap and we hit the back hill side by side as Danielle went under two riders we lapped and stayed on front as we hit the back straight head wind. I was on her wheel into the last corner and then tried to come up on the outside. She pushed me high when she realised I was on her hip then straightened up and sprinted to the line. I didn't have enough runway for the fight and was half a wheel off the finish line.

Thanks to my camera man Shane for the steady cam - but go too excited at the end when I was going to come second, that he didn't capture the finish! (I cut off the swears).

While thanking Danielle for the awesome battle I went for a cool down and nearly threw up! When I could get a sentence out I found Liz to find out she had been pipped on the line for 1st overall. The presentations were only a few minutes later and I was still trying to get my head together, red faced and not ready for a photo shoot! I popped through the crowd and received my medal from Kip to stand on the steps with Danielle for the photos.

Gold for Danielle and Silver for me.
Shane and I went for a roll/human motor pace session afterwards and it was tough going. It was a beautiful afternoon out and we got a loop in around the Newstead TT course and back to Castlemaine in time to watch the elite ladies in the Show-women's (not show-girls - they are something different) crit. I cheered on the chicks around the course and gave a massive cheer to Miranda who won the final sprint. 

We stuck around for the Showman's Crit to support and watch ex-team mate Shannon Johnston work his butt off in the race. Talk about a marked rider, he kept his cool and made it look easy as he closed gaps, covered attacks, made his own moves and kept it upright to the finish that was almost rained out. Into the final corner we saw him come around second wheel and hold position to the line. Amazing feat after all the work done in the race.

The rest of the Victorian Masters Championship Road and TT races are later in the year. I'll be training up and looking to try win a medal in these events. I believe in Women's Masters racing and will see it succeed.  While I was a little disappointed at the entry numbers in Castlemaine, maybe next year they can schedule it when the SKCC club crit champs are not on and we can round up the crit-troops from Melbourne and make this event five times as big.

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