Tour of the Goldfields 2014

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I was proud to join Building Champions Women's Squad for the final round of the National Road Series. My teamies were the same as Amy's Otway Classic: Minda Murray, Nikolina Orlic and Tayla Evans.

This tour is tough! Not just from the terrain, but typically the weather is pretty bad and the racing is brutal for the teams to deal their final blows to re-arrange the final standings on the NRS leader board.

Specialized Amira ready to roll

Stage 1 - Criterium 20 laps around Victoria Park

This was the stage I was losing sleep over the most. I had not been training for crits and was hoping that magic would happen or it would all come together on the day. I rode into the crit circuit with Nikolina and rode a few laps of the course. When it was time to start they sent us around for a recon and I managed to move up mid-pack on the start line.

An angle of the fast section with Mt Warrenheip in the background

Without ceremony we were off and racing. As per previous years it was fast to the first corner, then we all came to a standstill while we filed nicely around and sprinted to the second corner and came to a standstill to neatly turn and go back to the start. The pace ramped up and up to the first intermediate sprint at 14 laps to go and I managed to ride the wave through that milestone.

On the back of the bunch

I didn't see any accidents which was a first for this crit and all in all the crit went pretty well for the team. I didn't quite make the distance of the full 20 laps before my group was pulled off the course, but did measurably better than last year.

The stage was won by Kimberly Wells from Specialized Securitor.  Results

We dropped into the local Women's Bunch ride to celebrate ROCKTOBER Women's Ride Month.

Post by Gove Cycles & Bike Rack Cafe.

Arthur the owner with Nik and Tayla admiring his bike!

Stage 2 - Team Time Trial 20km

The course for the TTT was the same as the one I'd won the Masters National TT Championships on a few weeks prior so it was very fresh in my mind. The wind direction was what I had trained for in the months leading up so I was pretty confident that we would do a good ride.

We had only practiced once that morning riding together in formation, so it was unknown how far we could push each other above threshold. The main time gains would be made up on the way out into the headwind and we didn't want to lose anyone coming back.

Fence starts were a new addition to my skill set!
As team captain for the stage I ran through a few scenarios with the ladies about how we could indicate we were rolling off, or how to work together on the hills before the start and we nailed every aspect of the ride. One thing to work on is the Turn Around and pacing as a unit, but overall this was the best TTT I've ridden. Having evenly matched riders and positive cohesive group was so motivating. I was ecstatic when we got back in and felt that we had given it a good crack.

It was also great to see a few familiar faces of ladies who we'd met at Gove Cycles, out watching our TTT!

Von on the front setting up a good echelon. 

The overall result was 8th and 2:46 from the winning team of Holden Women's Cycling Team. There were 2 other teams that crashed on separate incidents and had riders that withdrew from the race.

Stage 3 - Road Race 56km Windmill Circuit

Over the last few years this stage has been like a criterium to the first sprint and onward to the QOM. With the brutal headwind, the pace was pretty low heading out and I was able to position well out of trouble. I made it over the top of the QOM with the nervous bunch, however the wind was relentless and we were strung out into the descent.

Narrow roads to the QOM
A few riders struggled to keep contact and half the field was unhitched. I struggled to try close the gap and came un-hitched and dropped off the back of the peloton.

Totally spent, I gathered myself for the chase. It was all downhill with a headwind but they were still getting away from me. Before I knew it, the convoy of cars started to stream around me and without much protection from the wind, I couldn't move up and they took off.

The bunch strung out on the back roads

Later a van came past and yelled that there was a bunch behind me so I had a gel, sat up and jumped on the group of 6 or so riders that were rolling turns into the wind.

Further down the road I saw a kangaroo jump alongside the group and cross over and back in front of our little gruppetto before we outran it. 10km on I started to get leg cramps and stopped pedalling. My day was over and it was going to be a long way home solo.

The winner was Davina Summers from Boss Racing in a fast tail wind bunch sprint. Results


Stage 4 - 83km Kryal Castle loops to the top of Mt Warrenheip.

I was ready for this stage and hungry for some better results. Last year I was with the bunch to the last 3 km where it started to climb and I knew that it was possible to do the same.

The start was delayed by 30mins due to critical medical support not being available, but eventually we shrugged off our jackets and rolled out from Kryal Castle. The ripping tail wind was fast and I was ready for the rolling attacks where riders launched off the front of the group, soon to be swallowed back up. The pinch at the river crossing was a critical point and I moved right up to the front to give myself a chance to get over the top as there was a left turn and a sprint point a few kms up the road.

The group winding around to Old Melbourne Rd

Into the next lap, the group had whittled down and I felt good after the tail wind section when I noticed Kimberly Wells wind up and take off. I launched off after her with Carly McKay and a rider from Tazzy. We got a gap before the corner and rolled turns for a few kms up the road. I calculated where I wanted to be for the pinch and in the break blowing myself up was not the right place as it was going to get caught by the sprint point.

I dropped back to the peloton and as predicted the break was swallowed up before the sprint. I didn't make it into the final half lap, as I came unstuck in the cross winds again but I did see a few familiar faces from Gove Cycles ladies shop ride watching from the roundabout.

Kimberly and Carly climbing the pinch

Totally delirious, we followed the final kms of the race back to the car park of Kryal Castle. Ruth Corset won the stage in an epic show of strength.  Results

Overall I can see where I need to improve and the massive gap to leap from club, to state, to national and to elite level. Bike riding takes a lot of hard work and it's a good thing that it is so enjoyable to train and socialize when we're not racing.

The awesome crew from Thule have supported my escapades to do the second half of the 2014 NRS and now I get to repay the favour at the Thule Bright 24 festival of Mountain Bike! It's not really going to be work when they have setup a great spot in the centre of Bright with food stalls, outdoor movies, demo bikes and of course the  Bright Brewery!

Warm-up on the TT bike in the Thule kit!

A big thanks also to Building Champions Women's Squad. Nicole McNamara approached me in April to join them as a guest later in the year and then coaxed me to guest ride for a few more NRS races in 2014. It's been a great introduction to teams racing where I have not had to lead and where I could learn so much more than racing for myself. The ladies on the squad have been so welcoming and sharing, it has been a life changing experience to do good, and do it well. I wish them all the best for 2015 and beyond as I really do see them "Building Champions".

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