Monday, August 29, 2011

State Masters Road Race Championships 2011 - Warwick 60km.

Yet another random race entered unplanned, after my Mawson race cancellation....

I was more nervous going into this race than I have been in a long time.  I had never ridden with any A graders and I expected it to be very difficult for me - my aim was to get the experience and learn what I could without having to go to A grade. I woke to the sound of heavy rain. Argggh! I considered rolling over and forgetting about it but I had TR and Cuppers picking me up so I was locked in.  Most people seemed to think that as a mountain biker the conditions would be reasonably good for me.  I knew that there would be those who would not show in the conditions, which helped the chances of those who turned up.  What the hell, why not.  Do your second road race in completely mental conditions..... I have certainly done crazier things.

I think XPD is still the maddest thing ever done....

We arrived a little late after underestimating the trip and not really being certain where to go.  Luckily we had Coach Cupcake volunteering as a lead car, so we could literally pull up outside the Rego area.  I then got ready in the rain.  It was cold and there was wind.  That is a little unfair.  If it rains, you aren't supposed to get wind too!  I'd been suffering MTBer embarrassment in the lead up every time someone asked how long my race was and I was forced to mumble '60km'.  Yes, half the guys race.  What is up with THAT!  Anyway, given the conditions it turned out I was not that upset come race day!

Course has a couple of hills (yay) and I liked it.
After a last minute transponder bracket issue, and being called twice to the start line I managed to have no warm up.  I prayed the girls would ease into it and not smack it from the gun or I was going to suffer.  I got the impression it was quite an 'in' crowd too, but that's ok - I came to turn the pedals, so let's get on with it. I lined up at the back and we were off.  In the end only five hard girls showed up to race in the pouring rain.  Across the board apparently 25% of field were no shows.

One of the girls, Margaret, punctured early on and then there were four.  She managed to grab my spare wheel and get riding again, though never quite closed the gap.  Tough lady.  It would have been easy to give up in those conditions.

For the first lap I sat in and tried to work out if this was the pace, if there was an attack coming, how fast do these girls above me actually ride.  When I worked out that I was not really any different to them, and probably not the underdog I was expecting, I started to do some work.  In reality Jane did 90% of the work for all of us that day, and seemed to me to be riding a cut above.

It was a pretty miserable roll, with so much water and road grime in my face I didn't even see most of the race. It seemed there was some organisation going on. I figured my only chance was to take the initiative, rather than get caught trying to respond so inside 1km to go I moved to the front and ramped it up.  No idea who can sprint or otherwise so opened up the sprint and rolled the dice.  Jane came around but in the end she was in a different category - something I didn't realise while we were riding because I am a newb.  Very lucky for me.

State Masters Road Race Champ for WMAS2

Up next..... no idea.  Something random!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

HPRW Womens Series - Race 3

Hamilton Pine River Wheels ran an excellent women's series which I hope will be repeated next year.  Eighty-three women competed over the series, 10 of whom were new to the sport and encouraged to have a go in the rare women's only format.  What a great way to encourage people into the sport! Unfortunately I could only get to one race of the series, the final criterium.  I would like to try and complete the lot next year, mountain bike calendar willing!  Thanks to HPRW for making these races happen.

On the start line lined up front and centre, just like the mountain biker I am!
The uni girls decided it was time we lined up to have another go at working together and to see if we could come away with something better than Metros. Nicole, Dom, Anne and myself discussed our plans on the way out.  It was fairly simple, and straight out of the book of Jaman TM.  Attack. We were missing Miff, STEF, Georgie and Nerida but on the plus side this time I was in full health.  A last minute panic when Anne discovered a flat literally on the start line was solved by Koiled - with Shannon passing over a shiny Industry Nine wheel - bling bling!

With a mixed A and B race, I made Donna's wheel my priority.  I also knew if I was still here in the last lap I was going to lose as Donna has a great sprint.  My team was awesome!  Nic, the self confessed non-racer, absolutely monstered them with constant attacks.  Dom also went up the road a bunch of times to make them chase, while importantly keeping her cannons ready for the sprint.  Anne put aside first timer B grade nerves and showed us she can not only ride in, but also attack!  It was rare that there was not a uni girl off the front - and the rest of us raced smart making the other girls either let the Uni girl ride away or do the work to bridge.  Not surprisingly a large percentage of the bridging was done by the A Grade girls.  They even had words when Anne and I sat up on the front, letting Nic ride away.  Somewhere in there Nic got another flat on the far side of the course and had to run it back in!  Once again Koiled produced a wheel, this time from Matt Dog Powell's bike and she was back in within the one lap time slot.  Phew!

Around 33mins Nic launched an attack off the front that was chased down reasonably hard. I followed Donna and Jane as they did the work to catch it. As soon as they bridged I jumped knowing Nic would not chase and they would have to get around her to get my wheel.  I got away through the bends and as I rounded and came up the straight I had a quick look.  Wow!  I had managed to get around 150 metres.  As I came down the straight I saw the 2 laps to go held up. I received plenty of advice from the Koiled guys as I hammered past, mostly summarised as you have to 'smash yourself now or it is over'.

I have only ever seen a break win a crit once, and that was a 2-man involving Jim Whimpey from UniCC.  And here I was trying to do it by myself!  What was I thinking?!  I was thinking, if you want me, you are going to have to come and GET ME.  And actually, I felt ok.  The headwind on the straight was hard and I tried not to think of how much easier it was for the bunch and made myself as small as possible. I was going to do this.

Final lap and my legs were starting to burn, but I was still away and I knew I had more. Ok, I didn't do this much work for nothing. If they catch me now, it is over as sprinting off the back of a TT is ummm, challenging! Matt Dog reminded me 'you only get one CHANCE!!!' while TR and Shan cheered me on... With those words in my ears I told myself it was time to check into the hurtbox proper and make this stick.  I dropped some gears and smashed myself over the small rise and down into the chicanes.  A quick look showed me no-one. I might actually do this!  From there I didn't bother looking and simply finished hard.  In the end I had around 300 metres, having doubled the gap on the last lap according to my onlookers.

My Koiled buddies were disappointed that I opted for sprinting instead of doing some kind of victory dance across the line... apparently I need to work on my euro gloat.  Sounds like it requires skills - I am happy to work on my sprint!  The bunch rolled in and it was down to a sprint finish.  Dom positioned herself perfectly on Donnas wheel, letting her lead her out - and then out sprinted her for 2nd.  Nic sprinted in for 4th, and Anne rolled in with the bunch having completed her first B grade race!  So nearly a Uni clean sweep!

HPRW in a Uni Sandwich - Nicole Mulholland, Donna Fyfe, Dom Schuh, and Rach.

I absolutely love racing with these girls and trying our best to help each other.  Today it happened that it was my day to get away, but if it had failed I would have lead Dom out and done my best to see her win.  One way or another Uni was going to get it!

I am already looking forward to the State Team Time Trial.  I think the Uni girls will end up with not one but two teams in the hunt.  I might even buy one of those weird assed helmets!

Next up... too many choices... KWT Maxis 4 hour round 1, dusk2dawn, State Roads, State TTT.... so much racing, so little time.

* thanks to HPRW for the photos.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Merida Pursuit - Race Report

Stepped up to Elite for my third attempt at marathon style event on the weekend.  After the cancellation of mawson, I put in a last minute entry and I guess I had high hopes.  The new epic course really lived up to it's name.  It has always been known for it's brutal climbs, but this year you could add in huge amounts of rough terrain, and some pretty technical single.  I loved the out and back format - much easier logisitically.  The half has become the two thirds, and is going under then name of Merida Pursuit! 

I opted to run a camelbak since I didn't have any support - I was happy to pay the weight penatly so I didn't have to stop.  This is the end was a good move as it was damn hot on some of those climbs in the stillness of the bush and I drank every drop.  I got off to a great start thanks to Jaman who pulled out his trade mark move, leading the race out hard.  I realised that I was sitting on the front of ALL the elites, men and women with him before deciding to settle, it was still a long way to go and his pace was not my pace.  

*Photo by Alan Uthmann

I knew I was first girl out, so I concentrated on keeping myself working and find that pace that was pushing but not exploding. Found Jason from FTR and rode with him for a while.  Great pace, and he was keen to do well (ended up 4th in his cat, well done!).   Managed to come together with a few guys out on the bitumen and encouraged them to work together into the headwind through mulgowie.  Once we were up the main climb and got into the pinchy grassy, loose fireroad stuff that wound it's way back into the property the hurt began.  Like most, my arms were taking a beating from the roughness.  It made the 24hour OHV course look like a bike path!  I stuffed up with traction or ran out of legs and walked/ran a couple of pinches.  Was sketchy as hell on the super loose downhills, mainly due to impatience and trying to overtake in stupid places and probably due to a lack of skill!  In truth I was feeling the pressure of leading and not wanting to be caught.  My nephew said some funny words to my brother once "ride to finish, before you ride to win"... I thought about that, and settled down.  Things went smoother!

I was very glad to turn onto Rock Bottom, and well known track... then before I knew it, it was onto the fireroad and heading for home.  Pushed to get on a wheel I could see up the road, and looked around - no-one at all behind me.  Knew I had it, that was a good feeling.  Cut Mr.Wheels lunch on the last rise up to the chute (sorry!) and crossed in 2.52.  Considering the trail traffic the whole way, and my dodgy tech riding in a couple of spots, I was happy with that!

Congrats to all who finished - special mentions for these guys!

My big bro Sean, and Ms Kirstie - smiling after 75km!

These two go alright for a couple of roadies - welcome to the Epic Club ladies!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Charles Coin

First Road Race done ... and most surprisingly won!
developing a cyclists arm to leg ratio nicely.....
I arrived and rolled out for a warm up choosing to ride a few kms of the course backwards so I could recon the 'hill'.  I couldn't find the hill, but I did find a speed bump a couple of kms back from the finish line.  Bryn assured me that was the hill, but honestly it was only 200 or maybe 300metres of a fairly easy gradient.  I had taken advice from all the Uni guys, telling me this was where the move needed to be made on the last lap.  I followed the race plan and stuck in the bunch for one, two, three laps.

Hiding in the bunch, burying my MTB guilt
On the last lap I started to make up places from the halfway point, knowing that I needed to be near the front for the 'hill' as I expected most people to want to pull the same move.  Each time we had ridden the hill, it had gotten very close, and seemed to me to be reallllly dangerous.  I know I changed my line a few times to avoid certain disaster, and others were doing the same.  Knowing this - I used those few kms before it to move out and up with any gap that opened.  We hit the hill and as I started to push for the front a maddened gentlemen rode over the top of me - he received plenty of 'advice' from me, and a number of riders behind us.  It was probably a good thing in the end since a) I stayed upright, and b) people moved the hell away to save themselves creating a gap.  I jumped through it and kept going also attacking the descent and getting into the top 3 or 4 riders.  I tried to judge which one of the boys looked fastest in front to grab a wheel and we were all rachetting up the pace.  I have no idea what was going on behind but it was clear the bunch had bridged to us when suddenly riders were trying to come around and finding themselves off in the grass.  Chaos!  Keep pedalling! 

I don't know how but I came together with one of the girls (Nicole?) who was trying to come around from behind me on the last corner.  I am guessing my line was wider than she anticipated, though I swear I was on the wheel in front... but who knows - it happens so fast.  We came together for a nervous 4 or 5 seconds and thankfully my instincts were to stay there and hold up until she could ride off me .... certainly got the adrenalin going. This road racing business is some gnarcore at times - I know have a new appreciation for 'rubbing is racing'.  Next thing I knew we were at 200metres and with the drama I was now back in a sprint finish.  I guess Coach Cupcakes training is working as I held them off and made a few places on the boys too.  Another 200meters and I would have made the boys toast.... or that is what I am claiming :)

thanks Coach!

With Mawson off the radar and nothing much better to do, I may roll the skinny wheels for the next few months until I dream up the next big thing!  I hope to get good enough to move up a grade for next year and roll with the A's.  Up next - Half Epic - Definitely.  Qld Road Race Champs??? Maybe!

Thanks to Morbo and Miff for photography!