2013 Australian Veterans Cycling Championships

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Last weekend I went back to my home town Ballarat to volunteer for my Veterans Cycling Club - Eureka. They race on Sunday's at 9:30am as per the race schedule on their website, usually starting from the club rooms on the banks of Lake Learmonth.

My bike on the rickety old pier, me and my bike trying to escape into the lake, corner marshalling, scratch race lists for the day.
The Australian Veterans Cycling Council is the alternate governing body for road cycling in Australia and caters for male rider over the age of 35 and females over the age of 30. They are known for their no nonsense strict adherence to the rules, good hard racing, fair prize money and post ride feasts.

We participated in the Classic Adelaide Veteran Series (CAVS) during our visit to see the Tour Down Under and were shown great hospitality from the locals, with racing scheduled around the TDU stages to enjoy the best of both worlds (highly recommended to join in on this for 2014).

This weekend we participated in the Australian Veterans Cycling Championships hosted by Geelong. They started on Friday with a criterium on the crit course in town, (that I didn't compete in) then continued on with the Time Trial on Forrest Rd near the club rooms. It all finished up with the Road Races on Sunday with an interesting route you needed a cryptographer to work out the way.

Time Trial

I tried a new workout on Tuesday this week and my legs were feeling pretty achey still by Saturday, but the sun was out and I was ready to rock and roll!

Warmup felt pretty good and just before I finished up Shane rolled back in from his race and offered me his new helmet to try out for the race. I had (not so secretly) been eyeing off the last few days and tried it out on the trainer to check it would fit in race positioning.

I started off steady and got into a rhythm, pegging my power and passing a few riders on the way out. The tail wind made everything feel that little bit easier, but the helmet slipped forward so I could only see a small strip of road in front of me. I found it hard to hold my line on the road with no lines painted in some sections, so I focussed on trying not to lose patience and power. 

When I came to the turn around there was a rider in front of me from the 80+ category, I debated whether or not to pass him before the turn around and made the wrong choice. He stopped at the turn, unclipped, scooted around the turn point. As I pulled up behind him I looked behind me to try see the person breathing like a steam train and hoping they were not being held up too much... it was ME! The crazy helmet was focusing the sound back up to me. I had a little chuckle and got onto the homeward leg.

The way home was tough. The headwind brutal. The sun was hot. It took too long to finish. I had a shocker of a ride. A few things to work on but a key thing - don't try something new for the first time on competition day!

At the end of the day I finished up with 1st for my age category and a lot of learning. My friend Jo Riley had a cracking ride and came in with fastest female.

Prize packet, presentations and the get-up before rolling out.
Road Race

Sunday morning was a later start of 11:10am and the weather was rolling in. The 63.5km course started from the club rooms, headed out and back Forrest Rd, then out and back Nobles Rd, and had 2 laps of the square circuit. Point B could be interesting with multiple races on the course at once and the finish line just beyond it!

We lined up 3 age categories in one race and I was keeping my eye on Nadine O'Connor. The 2012 Melbourne to Warrnambool finisher is always in good form and only comes out to race on rare occasions, so it would be interesting to see how she would play this race.

We roll out into a head wind and grey clouds on the horizon. Nadine and I roll turns for a km or so when she attacks just before the turn at Point A (see map), I wait a beat and attack to try and bridge across when nobody else reacts. It takes me a few mins to catch her closer to the turn onto Forrest Rd (Point B) and I roll through for a turn on the side wind section. 

We were up the road and they were chasing, but Nadine kicks again from across the other side of the road and takes off. I try to latch on as she goes past, but am cooked from my turn on the front and she takes off up the road again. 

The rest of the race (60km) was as follows: I can see Nadine up the road, we chat in passing on the road, I can't see anyone behind me, I can't see Nadine anymore, I pass a few riders from other races, headwind, side wind, drizzle, I question life, the wind picks up, I do the two square circuits and finish.  

Ticking away solo. Photo: Mandy Hosking

I came in first for my age category and second overall for the combined ages race. 

As predicted the right hand turn at Point B was a little hairy for me as there was a bunch charging for me to finish their race as I was trying to turn and get out of the way!

Nadine and I at the presentations

There was food at the presentations (special mention to the mint slice), great stories from the riders of their battles on the day and a few old race stories that were fantastic to hear how battle was done back in the day.

Next year the championship will be held in Perth. If you live over there or can travel with bikes, it should be a great opportunity and great racing. It was really good to take part in this Championship and see another part of the cycling community in Australia.

In the coming weeks in October I'll be competing at the Australian Masters Games, Australian National Masters Time Trial Championships, and sampling another cycling community at the Thule Bright 24hr Mountain Bike race. 

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