Amy's Otway Classic 2014

11:09 pm Unknown 0 Comments

The last few years I have competed in Amy's Gran Fondo and had an absolute ball! First year winning the women's team classification and last year just off the podium for 4th in my age category. It is such an amazing course with fully closed roads and we were again blessed with fine sunny weather without much of a strong breeze.

This year I was offered a guest ride for the inaugural Amy's Otway Classic. Same course, 1 hour before the Fondo and racing proper as part of the National Road Series for Building Champion Squad. It was hard to say no to trying to better my result in the Fondo last year to see if I could make it onto the podium. But this was the first year they were going to run this race as a Spring Classic, it was NOT to be missed!!

I arrived Saturday night to watch the hotly contested Amy's Wall which was a 120m hill sprint up a side street off the Lorne main drag. You could pretty much pick any side road to run this kind of competition and it would be a good choice. We found a vantage halfway up to watch the carnage. The first rider snapped a chain and other riders had gear mechanicals. But the victors at the end were Liam   Hill (who was staying with us) and Peta Mullens (freshly back from Europe season).

We arrived at our share accommodation to find a palatial guest house at our disposal for the weekend. A king size bed, private balcony and bathroom was allocated to us and we setup for the race the next day. Many thanks to the friends of BCS for hooking this up for the weekend!

The next morning Shane was on team car duties and we had a full set of soigneurs on the job with Jill and Adam helping out.  Our other guest teamie was Nikolina Orlić and it was team duties for Minda and I to get Tayla positioned well for the sprint at 20km and Nik for the start of the climb at 40km. From there on in - I was not so confident that I would be able to help out much, but I'd give it a good stab.

Tracey Gaudry spoke about the race and then we were off and running!

1.4 kms of neutral to start up and then 40km of roller coaster! I have to admit that I had a lot of fun over this section. Punching over the small rollers, driving the pace on the descents, cruising in the bunch to recover - rinse and repeat. I saw a bike change, a police motorbike wedged into a wall, what sounded like 2 crashes and I just kept moving up. FOCUS. There were a few attacks but nothing was going away before the climb.

Close to the sprint point Minda moved up to the front and set the pace, it took me a few minutes to get around the bunch to join her then take over. I kept it at a slow simmer and then kicked it up a notch at about 500m to go and swung my elbow for the sprinters to do their thing.

Things were going pretty well with Tayla getting up into 3rd or 4th place on that sprint and I went in search of Nikolina. I moved her up to the front and she stayed perched in top 10 position for the first climb.

Nikolina in BCS kit

Unfortunately by this time I found myself about mid pack through the apex of the corner onto the climb, I had a close encounter with the concrete lane divider and was pushed back further. Just to spice things up, someone broke a spoke and pulled over in front of me and then the whole bunch was up the road and I was playing steam train with the stragglers. We'd formed a group of 10 or so up the climb and pretty much stayed together all of the rest of the race.

After the descent, flat section and climb back up Deans Marsh I was starting to get my second wind. We all rolled in to finish 18mins down on the leaders time of Holden's Ellen Skerritt at 3hr15min. I came in 36th place with a slower overall time than last years Fondo, but much better climb times.

Von on far left in the BCS kit

I think it was a great race and well run. The fully closed roads were absolute bliss to be able to climb and more importantly descend using the whole road. One addition would be to open registration the night before so numbers could be pinned and timing chip stickers stuck on with lazer accuracy before  the early start the next day.

With 55 entries in the first year it was great to see so many ladies racing. This will  be an epic one day classic on the women's race calendar for the climbers that will endure. I just hope the weather so good every year!

Next race up for me is the Australian Masters Road Championships (TT, Crit and Road Race) in my home town of Ballarat. The courses are the same as the elite nationals that are run in January each year except for the criterium that is in Victoria Park. Here is the metal race pace version of one lap.

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