Rapha Brisbane Prestige

11:38 pm Unknown 0 Comments

A few hours before I was due to fly out of Melbourne up to Brisbane, I got an SMS today that my Iron Maiden Kate Lee was too sick to ride. I tried to squash the panic that started to rise over my nerves that our 3 riders - the only all women's team - would not be enough to get through the revised distance of 140 tough kilometres.

I notified my teamies, posted the "wanted ad" on my Facebook status, boarded the plane and tried to tune out of everything to compose myself. By the time I had landed Chevonne Arrowsmith had found Rachel Edwards as a replacement to join us, and I was feeling a little more composed and excited to see Emma Pane waiting for me at the airport.

I could spot my team mates from the end of the street as we rolled to the start line the next morning. We hadn't met before, but had been recommended as partners through mutual friends. Once we got chatting on the bike, it was an easy company with all of us and such a positive attitude and camaraderie.

After some introductions I soon found out I had a lot in common with Rachel Edwards and I was chewing her ear off as we rolled through the outer suburbs of Brisbane. We headed out to Mailmans Track approximately 30kms into the ride that was a 12% heart starter and only a hint of things to come.

The route weaved across the valley, Rachel lost her gilet on the road towards the goat track which was a good 4km at 7% compact gravel climb that sapped the legs nicely. We were smiling happy to have completed our first gravel section and headed towards Mt Nebo.

We decided to stop briefly for a water/bathroom break and it was our first opportunity to test out our new Specialized knicks that had a back clasp for easier bathroom breaks. I'll do a proper review of these in a separate blog/video, but in summary they were a BIG hit!

The descent down Mt Nebo was awesome, flowing and totally worth the climb up. Rachel was worried about the next section that the locals call a half Nebo that is normally undertaken on a mountain bike. We had 25mm tyres, 28 tooth cassette and a bit of gumption.

Turning off to Centre Road, you could see the tyre marks where earlier riders had blazed a trail and we dropped down a rugged trail all the way down to the riverbed at the bottom of the valley. If you stopped it was hard to get started again on the descent so it was best to clear the mind and relax the upper body so you could see where you were going!

Then there was the Centre Rd 1.8km climb at 8% on gravel that I was keen to tackle. I was the heaviest breathing diesel engine and almost had a heart attack, but made it up to the top and blew the cobwebs out of my lungs for the first time in months. The following 7km of descent on gravel required intense concentration. I moved to Rachel's wheel and just followed her careful and experienced moves (being a 24hr MTB specialist). When we got back to the road (at approx. 85kms in) we all high-fived and the road surface felt super smooth.

This was the start of a challenging 25km loop! We headed out to Haven Road and I was drained from the off road section, however Chevonne took off and smashed her way up the hill. Rach gave it a red hot go and made good headway too, but we all resigned ourselves to save a bit of energy and shout encouragement at Chevvy as we walked up a cliff-hanger like hill. I really have no idea how they tarmac these inclines. Maybe set the machine up at the top and let it run down the hill?

We did a re-start at the first shelf and rode the rollercoaster that remained of Haven Road onto Mill rd and there was some bush bashing in the Moggill Conservation Park. I think this was the point we went through a deeper creek crossing and when I started back into the uphill the surface was so loose the bike could not get purchase to keep going up. We all got off the bike and decided to do the hike to the top. This is what I have named the Rapha Guided Bushwalk.

A photo posted by Taka (@dr_taka) on

Once the surface got a bit better, we scooted along to a grassland area that was lovely and lush. You could barely see the track except for where the brush had been pushed back into 2 tyre tracks. At one point we could see where the road would re-join and Rach just disappeared in front of us. She got stuck in a rutt and was swallowed up by the grass unharmed!

A photo posted by Andy Pike (@pikey100) on

Heading back via Pinjara Hills there were some awesome views and rollers to break up the ride. Running low on water at this point had dampened our spirits a little, but the promise of the Brookfield General Store was soooo sweet. I lightened the mood by belting out a great power ballad and deemed it slightly successful as Rach joined in, and Emma steadily drove onwards. Our group decision was to hydrate and lightly refuel as there was only 35kms to go.

This was also our second bathroom break and I followed the ladies a few minutes later after Chevy sent them the wrong direction. A few moments after they left the building before me I heard the main door slam closed and lock very loudly. After a minute of yelling, I gave up and phoned Chevy to come save me! (I'm sure my singing was not that bad!)

The last hurdle was Gap Creek Road. As this was a favourite training ground of Chevonne, it was nice to know what was coming up to measure the effort. Such a lovely stretch of road I would like to revisit. Once we hit the outskirts of town it was automatic mode to get back in the traffic

At one point on the descent I stretched on the bike and knocked the clasp on my rear light. it tumbled from my seat post, ran down the frame and caught on the crank arm. I yelled out to the team that I was stopping and managed to swipe it up as I pulled over out of the traffic. Thankful that still had it as it later in the day it was required to get home.

As we rolled in it to the Green Beacon Brewing Company it was lovely to be greeted by Pikey and have a couple of pics together as a group. We were all pretty tired and ready for some food. What we have achieved hadn't quite sunk in. The only women's team and we finished the whole course together and came in about mid-pack at the finish!

There was one food van that was struggling to keep up with the volume of orders by the time we arrived. I had one beer and there was nowhere to sit down. Emma claimed us some street space to nibble on our food and by that time we were ready to put our feet up and relax at home.

Calling it a day, hugs were shared and new bonds formed. Chevonne rode with Emma and I back to the accommodation as it was pretty nice to get into the shower and relax for the evening.

For our team we were pretty well matched, everyone contributed, we had a great day out that pushed us to the maximum of our abilities and capacity. I would have liked a little more celebration of the achievement, but I don't regret entering and taking on the adventure. If I had to compare, the Prestige Merricks was a better event. Would I enter another Prestige? ...who is up for an ADVENTURE!?

Mega thanks to all those to supported my crazy idea of a women's only team, especially:

Kat Lee, Lisa Coutts, Emma Pane, Chevonne Arrowsmith, Rachel Edwards, Emily Smith and Shane Miller.

Specialized provided us limited edition Boels Dolmans Cycling Team inspired kit that had awesome stretchy pockets to fit the mountain of food I ate. The new back clasp was great and did not rub and was a big hit for a big day on the bike. I would like to convert a few of my other knicks to this design!

VeloOne provided us with mega big bidons that we filled and refilled all day long. They also know the meaning of comfort with their technical socks that were soft and wicked away the sweat, but super high-vis and matched the purple in our kits too. These will be great to commute to be seen out on the roads.

Go Active Outdoors providing me with an awesome THULE bike bag to tote Tara Tarmac around the country, and mini sun screens for all the team.

Rapha Australia for putting on an awesome event, believing in our abilities, pushing us to our limits and washing away all the bad memories with beer that night and coffee the next morning!

A photo posted by @mandyrides on

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