Mountains on road and off road - Amy Gillett Gran Fondo 2013

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I have been busily gathering individuals to form teams in the background for the Thule Bright 24hr mountain bike race next month. In the mean time I had not managed to get out on the mountain bike at all! Finally on Friday I found my MTB shoes, threw on my helmet and headed straight out the door to work. It was somewhat liberating to be wearing casual clothes and ready to work straight from the street!

Many thanks to my friend Kate who is loaning me her gorgeous bike (red goes faster right?) for training and skills sessions in the lead up. I booked in with the Liv/Giant ladies to join them in the You Yangs on the Saturday a day before the Gran Fondo. It should be a low impact way to spin the legs out before a massive day on the tarmac.

New trails, picking lines and working out how to do it
I had a great time punching up the climbs, flowing along the single track and chickening out on all the technical descents. It was great to be back out on the trails and I got a real appreciation of all the work that has gone into track building in the You Yangs. What a FUN PARK! My next adventure needs to be planned again soon as it was heaps of fun and I need more practice before the big weekend.

Chicks day in the You Yangs - Photo: Jane Ollerenshaw
Keep an eye out for the upcoming Liv/Giant MTB sessions they are planning. I have to thank the ladies for being so supportive and encouraging, the 2 hours flew by.

Amy's Gran Fondo

I picked up our Hydralyte packs from the head office during the week and was excited to see the crew again. They were buzzing with pre-Fondo activity and had more helpers on board.

The HQ busy setting up for the masses

Sunday morning we all got together in our team kit for a big pic and setup for the ride ahead. We'd made plans on how to play out the day with Shane and Stephen from Kosdown Performance Cycling to try and make it up to the start with the National Road Series teams then Shane had to back it off by the climb as his collarbone is still in delicate stage and could come and join me for the rest of the ride.

The start was FAST and FURIOUS! I was in the second wave and noticed those NRS teams who rolled out in the first wave were standing on the side of the road before the timing mats waiting for other riders or team mates in other waves to join them before starting the ride. I didn't have any helpers to wait for, Dale Maizels and I who decided on the start line to ride together for the day were jumping from group to group and the kms flew by when we hit the bottom of the Skenes Creek Climb.

Dale and I getting ready for the start

I hit the bottom of the climb toward the front of the pack and started to climb at their pace which was way too hard for me, then filtered over to the slow lane to tick up the climb at my own pace. Dale joined me and we were picking our way through riders and getting passed by others in a hurry that seemed able to keep up a roaring pace. At some point Shane found us on the climb and settled in to join us for the day. I made it over the top of the climb and lost Dale at one point, but found each other again by Forrest.

Shane and I ready for the big day ahead

There was a water stop there and the bunch we were in peeled off to stop, so I called Shane up to the front to set the (cracking) pace and we forged onwards! The weather was gloriously sunny and there was no headwind that I had last year in the long section before the last climb. Feeling lucky, I had another gel and got ready for the final climb up to the finish line.

About 5km from the finish my calf started to cramp up and I panicked. Shane was out of water and I had less than half a bottle of Hydralyte left. We had to hit the finish line ASAP to make good time and keep ourselves in good nick. Keeping each other motivated, we ticked off the kilometres. When the road flattened out, it was a struggle for me to wind it up and push the pace when the next round of climbing kicked in. It's amazing what your legs put up with! I saw the 1km to go sign and kept pushing to the line to hear the announcers call out my name and then Shane's. 

These photos speak volumes - I had nothing left

Shane stoked at finishing

Congrats while we roll onward to the feed station

I made it to the feed station down the road and quickly filled up the bottles and stuffed in some fruit cake before the descent. Shane was super glad to get another drink and I found Dale again in the crowd before heading back down the final descent into town.

Dale and I at the feed station post race (my mouth full of fruit cake)
After a shower and recovery shake we walked into town to check out the official results and get our free lunch. Sitting in the sun, we met some Adelaide folk who had driven over for the ride and we exchanged stories of Tour Down Under.

My final time ended up being only 1 minute faster than last year and 1 place closer to the podium coming in 4th for my age category. Dale came in 2nd for her category and we both got UCI medals!

I'm delirious! But have a UCI medal :D

There were some ripping times from the Hydralyte team, but somehow our women's team was not registered correctly and we didn't get to contest our place from last year.

A great day out in the sun, awesome course, well supported and good fun ride. My friend Debbie who I rode the course with last month completed the Fondo within her personal goal time too. We both commented at the end of the ride how encouraging so many other competitors were during the day too. I'd definitely love to come back next year.

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