Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Cunningham Classic - it's a Killer!

Saturday saw us line up for the Cunningham Classic - the jewel of the SEQ road racing calendar.  This race was running it's 30th anniversary edition and I can see why so many people love it.

The race runs from Gatton, winding 96km up the range and onto the tablelands before finishing in Warwick.  It is notorious for two reasons.  One is the never-ending climb - first 40km are uphill.  Second is the wind you get when you make it up onto the tablelands.  Always cross or headwind - never a tailwind!

With the weather forecast: -1 (negative one) to 0 (zero) degrees celsius at 6am it made for a seriously cold start but I knew given the climbing I would not be cold for long.  Jersey, knicks and arm warmers would do me.  The rest of Koiled were off in the Masters B1 grade as Shan, Nick, Bear, Tony and Trickle headed off to take their chances.  TR and Jimmy were our awesome Koiled Krew, and had headed up the road to the first feed station.

I waited another 20 minutes before Elite C/ Womens B was called up.  We had around 8 girls racing, most of whom I knew including Uni girls Anne and Britt.  Soon enough we were off.  There wasn't much by way of pace making as the lead car pulled the neutral flag in and set us free, but I knew when we hit the hills it would be on.  I settled in and concentrated on getting my legs rolling.

As we made our way out to the beginning of the climbs no-one wanted to work.  There was one awesome moment when Catriona, Buffy, Jane and myself were towing the bunch and Matt said to me 'only the girls want to work' shaking his head.  Catriona was from out of town, and I had not seen her race before but I was realising she and I were going to be racing.  I liked the way she was riding - consistently trying to go off the front and really giving it some.  I decided I would get into it with her.  I can't even call it mountain biker guilt - it was more feeling like I was missing the fun.

As we hit the climb, the boys went mental.

 I couldn't believe how hard some of the attacks were and I knew the one rule about this race was to 'STAY WITH THE BUNCH'.  Well, the bunch shattered - and all that was left now was about 12 guys.  I was riding well past where I really could, and I started to evaluate my options and my life insurance.
Both Catriona and came off the back, by about 100m and behind us was daylight....

I wanted to win the QOM, and had said to my team it was my priority for the event.  I am an idiot - I actually thought it would be a matter of riding up the hill solidly and there it is... but how wrong can you be.  After the ferocious attacks I was left wondering if I could make it up the hill at all!  If I wanted this thing, I was going to have to hurt for it.  Badly. There were no witnesses, and no cameras but this is how it went.  I knew the QOM point was around 41.8km so I watched my computer, covered Catriona and tried to get my body back under control.  I listened to her breathing and knew I could smash a hill better.  I stared at the road trying to see the QOM point so I could time my sprint.  I caught a 200metre sign and that was it - in the dog and out of the saddle.  My legs were screaming but I gapped her and held on.

 From there we could see the lead group up the road and we did everything we could to chase back on.  In the end it was Catriona and I for the entire lonely, windblown way.   We had one passenger briefly through the feedzone, but he didn't hang around long.

Steve and Jimmy waited in the feedzone, but I was good with what I had.  They yelled helpful commentary like 'get out of the wind'.  Not quite sure how you do that with a bunch of two!!!!
We both rode honestly helping and encouraging each other for the next 50km.  We found one guy who was cramping and ended up sitting on the back while we swapped the front (try some eLoad!)... but otherwise it was a lonely, lonely road.  Coming into the finish we ended up shoulder to shoulder in a straight out sprint, let the fastest legs win.  Again the koiled cheer squad was on hand with cowbells and encouragement like ' RIDE FASTER'....   should have listened! :P

Congrats to Catriona - well deserved, and super happy 2nd for me and a QOM.  A good day at the office.

Next up HPRW Womens Series Race Three!


Trickle said...

All hail Queen Rach!!!

I still reckon you should have been in a bigger gear and pedalled harder, would have won for sure instead of just getting second :-P

rachel edwards said...

it was the bunny hops on every pedal stroke that let me down.... too flashy.

Anonymous said...

Is that windburn on your face?!?!? Single Speed next time for you..... help reduce bunny hopping and general larking around. It sounds totally unpalatable for me, but then again, I don't have victory ice cream in ma freezer. Well done crack head....Miff ;-x