Essendon Fields Kermesse and Rapha Women's 100km

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Northern Combine - Essendon Fields Kermesse

With all the Time Trials on the race calendar, I was looking for a different challenge and something a bit new. The local club racing group "Nothern Combine" had a new Kermesse circuit mapped out that I was keen to try out if the weather was willing to ease up on the rain.

There are some back roads in the Essendon Airport, right next to Essendon Fields shopping centre that were perfect for a Kermesse race. With a few modifications on speed humps, marshalls and some barriers in place, we were good to go!

The skies were pretty grey on the way out there and it was a freezing wind which did not make for many spectators. I can imagine many coming to watch and rolling over the carpark to Nandos afterwards for victory lunches and coffee on warmer days to come.

There were so few entries in Women's A-Grade that they started us with the B-Grade men. I welcomed this idea as the winds were picking up and there may be some places to hide in a bigger bunch.

I started at the front with Lisa Hanley, however in no time at all I was struggling at the back, then struggling off the back and in no time they were all gone! When I looked around, it had started to drizzle and I seriously thought about pulling the pin, but as there was still 20mins to go, I could get a good workout in, so I waited up for Dale Maizels who popped into view and we rolled turns till we picked up another young lady and then we jumped on the back of the next mini group of 5 riders that had been dropped from the main bunch till the finish.

By the end of the race I rolled in at 5th place with a good idea of the course with the back straight head wind and cornering in the damp conditions. I am definately keen to get out there and race on this new course again.

Always fun to wind up a sprint! Photo: Jo Upton

Rapha Women's 100

I really enjoy the Rapha Women's Ride each Thursday morning at 6am. It's a mixture of road, paths, flat, hilly, springy hills, goooood coffee and cherry toast at AllPress cafe. The ladies are rare to skip a ride due to bad/cold weather and it keeps the morale up over winter to do a good ride like this and keep in touch with the community.

Ready to roll
One of my fav moments was staying up late to watch le Tour de France, getting some sleep and rocking up to the start to yammer on about the stage finding that 3-4 other ladies had done the same as me! I was so deleriously tired that it took me to the next day to realise that I too had only had 4hrs sleep like the rest of the ladies.

Get your limited edition Rapha cap and Jackets online. Photo: Von Micich
The past few weekends I have been out with a few of the Rapha ride leaders working out where the course would run so we could direct our groups around the 100km hilly course. In true Rapha style, there would be some challenges for all riders, but more notably the inclusion of some gravel roads and muddy paths.

The Sunday of the big ride rolled around and I was one of 3 ride leaders for the last group to leave AllPress. Dubbed the "fast bunch", we took off at a steady pace and found that the group was a mix of seasoned riders and a few newbies that had not ridden 100kms before. The first leg up Studley Park Road was the decider, and I dropped back to pace on a few riders, while Nadine O'Connor was pushing a few riders up the hill. There was about 95 km more to go and it was going to be a long day. By the time we had hit the first section of path, I realised we were going to need to break the group into at least 2. Nadine was nursing along 1 rider and I had another 3 while Hazel managed to pace the rest of the group and keep them together.

Rolling ahead to take a pic of the ladies on the hill
The next 30kms were pretty slow on the path along the river and we let Hazel take off with the main group. We rejoined them at the halfway mark.

This was also the first time I had used my Garmin 810 Maps with a pre-loaded course and it was a great way to keep on track with the unit beeping when I was off-course. With my maps loaded as well, I could see when a turn was coming up and had ample time to warn the group. We did not get lost or have to turn around at all. I am certain to try this feature out again for new adventures.

The hand of GOD - thanks Nadine!
After many hills, sections walked, a mini stack, tears, snacks and pushing uphill... we arrived at the midpoint. We reshuffled the group and I went to help out Hazel with the front part of the fast bunch, but that meant there was only time for a pitstop and no coffee for me as they were ready to roll out.

Last section just before coffee!
From this point forward I really was able to enjoy the ride. The pace was on at a comfortable speed and I was the gate keeper for the back markers. We had a great descent and then climb up along the dirt ridge and climb back up onto the route we rode out on. It was so much faster on the way back with the group more confident on the paths, we overtook a few groups and came back to Allpress for a beautiful lunch almost right on 1pm. 

Lovely table settings

We were the first group back, but each of the other groups rolled in soon after. Nobody was left behind. Some riders rolled home straight away, and others joined us for lunch. By this time I was pretty tired, and was a zombie eating lunch. Afterwards I remembered that I needed a coffee and pepped up before the ride home.

A sip of champagne with Kats - sparkling as always

It was a great day out meeting riders who had only ever ridden Beach Road, seeing old friends who like an adventure, sharing with new people the fun, freedom and riding tips that I've gathered along the way.

Happy days with Deb-star! What a great day out.

At one point I reflected that this ride last year was my first 100km since breaking my collarbone. It feels like I've ridden a million miles since then. New job, new house, new achievements and challenges. You never know what will pop up next to expand your horizions, I'm hoping it will be something great!

This next month I have a few more TT's, a new bike and some SNOW adventures :) see you out there!!

All Press goodies of some filter coffee and phone pouch for the wet weather.

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