Australian Masters Road Championships 2014

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Most of this second part of the year has been in training for the Master Road National Championships. The preparation was all coming together well, I hadn't got sick over winter or had any crashes or injuries and even better, the race was to be held in my home town of Ballarat. I'd entered all three events (TT, Crit and Road Race) with no real expectations of results as last year I'd come in 5th and 3rd in 2012. It all depended who would ride well on the day.

Shane and I headed down the day before the competition to do the warm up and had a special treat to meet up with Stephen and get some pics for the Courier and TV time on the local news channel. I was really excited, but realistically they were scraping for content as the footy season was over!

We were on the news that night and in the paper the next morning which was nice to see and made a bit of a spectacle of us riding up and back a country lane with nobody watching.

I've made the back page of The Courier - I'm big in Ballarat!
Shane got a bit of a write up inside the Sports section

Time Trial

Everything went to plan on the Time Trial except the forecast of sunny 20 degrees was a drizzly grey/cold morning instead. We found a great warm-up place near the start, got the equipment checked early with no problems, warm-up went to schedule with no hiccups and in no time at all the clock was counting down with me on the ramp.

Mad beats - Time to get a good tune stuck in your head!
It was a familiar ramp with familiar people, but I was not used to be held side-on like I have seen at the track. I was a little timid until Dave Morgan reminded me to look up the road!!!

Ready to roll!
I was off and rolling with the tail wind and everything felt great. The next section was side/head wind and I pushed on through it till the roller hills. I passed one rider through there on a road bike and it added to the motivation for the boring long headwind section to the turn around. I'd practiced it enough to know I had to keep aero and keep the pace on, but when I looked up the road there were cones blocking off the road and the turn-around was sooner than I expected. NO WAY!

A moment of confusion while I made hand signals with the marshal to indicate that this was REALLY the turn? Then it was tailwind after I'd turned around and I could get a mini break for a moment, but the visual reminder that there were riders chasing me and others up the road that wanted to be on the top step of that podium too.

Zippedy do dah! Stay aero!

I passed another rider on the way home on the hills and another rider further along... I think, it was all a blur to get to the final corner. I'd taken the final corner in the aero bars before and had almost made it around when that nasty headwind grabbed my front wheel. I wrenched it back under me and just managed to keep out of the gravel to punch hard on the way home.

Every other time this part was a tailwind. I'm not sure how much I had left at this point. I just wanted to get home NOW. When I realised there was a chance of making it under 30minutes it spurred me on. I finished with everything left on the road and gasping for air like a fish out of water with a time of 28:20.92.

Finale! We're done!
Once I composed myself a little more, I rolled back to the car to get on the wind trainer and cool down. All riders were back for WMAS1 and I'd come in fastest by 12.9 seconds (results) and I was now National TT Champion! WinTV completed a good 5minute interview and about 5 seconds of that has been included on the news that night.

It still doesn't seem real now. I've hung the medal up in my trophy cabinet and drunk the lovely wine from Sam Miranda Winery and the record books can do the rest.

Podium Action - 2nd Leanne Davies, 3rd Erin Kinnealy


I was feeling a little rushed when it came down to the time to start the crit. Somehow I'd forgotten to organise lunch and I was on the wind trainer trying to coax the legs into getting all speedy and warmed up while I digested a hasty sandwich from earlier. By the time I rolled up to the start line everyone had signed on and I was trying to work out who the competition was. This time we were racing with Masters 2 in a combined group and were identified by headbands.

We rolled out and it was pretty controlled for the first lap, then attacks surged on from different groups but it made no sense that there were ladies chasing down other grades and keeping the bunch together. I tried a few attacks to raise the pace at different points around the course, but nothing stuck and there was not really anyone keen to keep the pace high. I didn't want to get it to come down to a bunch sprint but I was getting chased by everything that moved.

Sure enough the lead-out started, in the last corner before the finishing straight there was a bad move and one girl ended up riding in the grass and lots of shouting going on. This messed up my front runner chance, but I thought I was in for 3rd until just before the line I saw another headband pop into view and I was 4th overall.

The Results online are about as confusing as the race finish!

Danielle Garden - Bronze Womens Masters 1, Veronica Micich - 4th Womens Masters 1. Criterium @ Victoria Park. PHOTO: ADAM TRAFFORD

 Road Race

There was an extra day of rest before the road race. I always said there was NO WAY I'd ever do the elite nationals as I would be dropped on the first lap. Now this was my chance to ride the same course (3 big loops in this case) and put my money where my mouth was. There was massive expectation to win this race for my grade. I reset my expectations pretty early that this would not be the case, but I desperately wanted to get at least a top ten. We were going to race as a whole group of Masters 1,2 and 3 with no headbands and not in number order.

The start line trying to stay calm before the storm
We rolled out quite civilised and set a good tempo up the climb with Bridie O'Donnell and Jessica Toghill on the front until a rider from QLD rolled to the front and proceeded to rip our legs off. I made it up the first section with the group, but after the left-hand turn I was slipping through the pack. By the time the main climbing group had crested the KOM I could just see their wheels and gasp to CHASE! It seemed like there was nobody behind me, but suddenly on the descent we'd formed a group of 6 and managed to catch them in a few kms of hard work.

I'd burnt a book of matches doing this and started coughing up a lung. It hurt so bad to breathe and tasted like blood. In no time at all we were descending into town and taking on the climb again. I started up the front with Nicole Whitburn and didn't quite make it as far as the previous lap before everything was hurting again and I was going back through the pack. By the time I'd made it over the KOM they were out of sight and I noticed a few familiar faces join me for the chase.

Cresting the top of Bunninyong - yowch!

We had a bigger group chasing this time but we never caught the leaders again. Working together through the back section we nearly got to the follow car again, but lost group motivation. The next time we saw the follow car was heading up the hill again for the final lap.

Our group shattered and I just gave it all I could to keep on the pace and keep up on the final climb. We reformed into an even bigger group rolling consistent turns and started sweeping up riders. I was floored when I saw three riders rolling alone with about 10km to go. They were the Masters 1 race leaders! The lady I trailed 1 point behind to win champion of champions jersey was right there... and I had nothing left.

Early on in the race through town

As I helped make the catch right before the descent I couldn't believe it was going to come down to another bunch sprint for medals. I'd ridden the last section a few times ripping out some great sprints so I knew it was possible. We had a mixed bunch in our group, but I didn't think there were any other podium places left for the other grades, so it was a matter of picking through the finishers to get over the line first.

I was on Lisa Hanley's wheel and let her know. When we rolled in faster and surged on I was out of position and boxed in around MAS2 riders and it was all over, I rolled in for 5th overall. (Results - they divided the results)

It was finally over with a tough course and strong competition where anyone of us could have been the winner if it was up to the gods! I was pretty disappointed, but relieved it was all over and I could just rest. I must have been pretty tired when I got back to my parents place I fell asleep outside on the sun lounge fully kitted up.

My mini mention in Shane's article in the Wimmera Mail Times

Well the training will need to step up next year as I move up to Masters 2 category and they are FAST! Looking forward to that journey and I hope you join me on the adventure.

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