The Eildon Junior & Women's tour was a two day race that comprised of three stages. A time trial and two road races (one with a hill top finish).
Warming up for the TT.
First up was the time trial which is something I'm usually not that good at. I have been getting better though so it was a good opportunity to see how I was going only a few weeks out from states. The TT was 11. 6 km and almost completely flat. Going into it my aim was to hold 90% of my max Heart Rate (185.4 BPM) until the turn around and the go as hard as I could on the way back. On the way out I averaged 89.6% (184.6 BPM) which is close enough to 90% that it doesn't make a difference, so by the halfway point I was right where I wanted to be. On the way back I was still going really well but coming into the last kilometer I faded a little bit. It wasn't to bad and I still finished with a good average speed of 41.3 km/h and a time of 17 minutes. Even better I finished 7th out of my grade which I was really happy with.
My heart rate for the TT. You can see where it dips at the turn around and where I fade a little bit near the end.
Stage 2 was a 77 km road race that comprised of two laps of the 'pondage loop' and then a 1.9 km hill with the finish atop the dam wall. The race started under control which meant we had to sit behind the lead car until we got out of the main part of town. As soon as the lead car pulled away people started attacking but no one was going to be allowed to escape off the front. After a while people stopped attacking and the group started rolling turns at around 40 km/h. After about 50 km we came through the town and some of the stronger riders picked up the pace. I'm not sure why they tried to force the pace through the town but maybe they thought some people would struggle with the corners or something. Anyway I just tried to keep near the front and out of trouble.
After we got through the town the strong riders stopped trying to force the pace and then expected everyone to start rolling through again but they didn't. This meant the group slowed down and therefore people started attacking. Again no one was allowed to get much of a gap off the front and after awhile the attacks stopped and everyone rolled turns again. This continued for another lap until we got to the town again where the same thing happened as the previous lap. The strong riders picked up the pace and then sat up once we got through the town again. But this time no one attacked after the town as everyone was just trying to save their energy for the climb at the end.
As we got closer to the climb the pace began to slow as know one wanted to be on the front. I just tried to make sure I had a good position by following Thomas Slingsby. I chose to follow Slingsby because he usually beats me in races with hills so I thought if I followed him I wouldn't get stuck behind any slow riders. As we hit the bottom of the climb the group was four wide across the road and I was in the second row which is exactly where I wanted to be. At about 500m to go the strongest rider attacked and got a big gap. 3 other riders tried to go with him and were slightly ahead of me as we got to about 250m to go. As we went around the final corner and the road flattened out I started sprinting around the outside of the other riders. In the last 30-50m I could see a rider coming past me but I could do nothing about it. As we went across the line another rider tried to come past me as well but I wasn't sure if they made it around me or not.
It turns out the other rider hadn't got around me because the judges gave me third which is way higher than I ever expected to finish. I was really happy with this result as I thought I would struggle to get top 10.
The Victorian 100 km Championship was the day after the Cecil Shore handicap race
. It comprised of thirteen 8 km laps around a square course, which much like the day before was very windy.
Also much like the day before there were many strong teams such as team Bike Bug, V.I.S, Target Trek and African Wildlife Safaris. These teams made the race as fast as they could to try and set up there riders for the win. Due to these teams and many of the other riders being really strong it was an extremely outside chance that I would win. So I set my sites a bit lower and tried to aim for the first U/19 rider. But even this was going to be extremely unlikely/ hard because one of the other U/19's was Zac Shaw who has won the 1 km TT at the Junior world track championships. Even though it was going to be hard I was going to give it a crack anyway.
Rolling off from the start
The first lap started off hard as riders tried to get off the front in the breakaway but the big teams didn't want to let anyone go. After 2 laps a few riders did manage to get a gap but it wasn't very big. The big teams kept the pace up high on the front and I was just trying to make sure I was in a good position for each corner. Positioning was especially important coming out of the second corner because the wind was going to the left (from top to bottom in the picture of the course) and like the day before the peloton was in an echelon but there wasn't enough room to fit on the road. This meant that coming up to the second corner everyone would try and be up the front and as soon as we went around the corner push against the left side of the road to try and get some protection from the wind. But if you weren't in the first 1/3 of the peloton you weren't getting any protection from the wind so everyone was either trying to push and force their way into that first 1/3 or riding in the dirt on the side of the road to get there.
So pretty much a pattern formed for the race. Coming in to the first corner I would be in the first 1/3, then I would try and get right near the front going into the second corner, then everyone would sprint out of the corner and push to the left and I would try and hold my position until we approached the 4th corner where I would follow some one up on the outside of the peloton to try and get near the front again. This pattern continued until 5 laps to go. As we swung left coming out of the second corner I couldn't force my way into the group and dropped off. But I wasn't the only one that dropped off three other riders did as well. So we worked together, rolling turns as hard as we could and managed to catch back on the group as we went around the third corner. But I couldn't ease up now we had caught back up, I had to keep going hard and try and get back near the front so i didn't get dropped again. I managed to get near the front again but we were on the last lap before the intermediate sprint (an intermediate sprint is a sprint at some point during the race where first place gets a prize). As we went around the second corner I managed to hang on this time, but I was right near the back of the field and as we went around the last corner riders started sprinting and I dropped off the back of the field. As went past the line I was only 10 m off the back and was fighting to get back on. Just as we approached the first corner I got on the back of the peloton but the riders sprinted out of the corner and I got dropped again. This time I couldn't get back on no matter how hard I pushed my self. I kept pushing as hard as I could until the second corner but they were just getting further away. As I rolled over the line with three laps to go the commissaire waved at me to pull over. I had lotst 5 minutes in the 3/4 of a lap I was by myself and it was obvious I would soon be lapped so I was forced to pull out.
Even though I didn't finish the race or get 1st U/19 I was still happy with how I went. I hung on for longer than I thought and when I did get dropped I managed to fight my way back on twice and I also got second U/19 which was pretty good considering who got first. I ended up having a hard but fun weekend and also learnt some valuable lessons about ridding in the wind and ridding in big groups so all in all it was a good weekend leading up to Eildon this weekend and Wagga to Albury, States and Tour of the Murray in the next few weeks after that.
The 'Cecil Shore Memorial handicap' was a 120 km handicap road race that started in Hamilton went through Macarthur then to Orford and did a U-turn and went back to Hamilton again.
The map and course profile
Luckily the race started at 12:30 in the afternoon, this meant for once I didn't have to wake up early and rush around and I could actually warm up properly. I rode from where we were staying out along the course a bit and back to the start line and ended up doing 15 km. After this Mum and Dad met me at the start line so I could get ready and start to do a more serious warm up on the rollers.
I started the race in the 12 minute group (the middle out of six groups). When we started it was windy and it stayed like that the whole race. Not long after the start it began pouring down with rain. Luckily on the way out our group worked well together in the wind, we formed an echelon and kept an average pace of 42 km/h for the first hour so we were going fairly hard and I didn't get to cold.
An example of an echelon
After a while we started catching riders that had been dropped from the groups in front of us and then eventually we caught the group that started 4 minutes ahead of us. Even though we had caught one group we soon realised we didn't have much chance of catching the front group. As we went past spectators on the side of the road they would yell out the time gap to the front group. We weren't catching them, if anything they were getting further ahead of us. And then as we went around the turnaround we could see scratch (the fastest group) had caught the group in front of them and was almost upon us.
Because our group knew we were going to be caught everyone slowed down and waited for scratch to catch us. When they come past they were flying and we had to sprint to get on. When we did get on it was hard. The wind had picked up and there was a few teams on the front driving the pace.
It turns out that scratch and the 7 minute group was filled with riders from the semi profesional teams Target Trek
, African Wildlife Safaris
and the Victorian Institute of Sport team. So when they caught us they decided it would be a good idea to go as hard as they could on the front to get rid of us. It was especially hard because it was still a crosswind which meant I couldn't just sit on the back and have an easy ride.
The reason I couldn't just sit on the back is because the peloton, due to the wind was riding in an echelon. This meant we were riding in a diagonal line and because the group was so big there wasn't enough room for us to fit across the road. So therefore it was easier to take turns at the front than try and sit on the back. But after rolling turns at 50 km/h for 10 km I was struggling to roll through so all I could do was try and hang on the back. This didn't last long though and I got dropped with 40 km to go.
I thought the rest of the race was going to be a long boring ride by myself but one of the African Wildlife Safari riders who had been dropped caught up to me so we talked and rode for 20 km together. At 20 km to go a small group of riders caught us so we all worked together to getback as a group. But after about 10 km it started poring rain again (at some point during the race it had stopped and I didn't realise) so a few riders began to go faster so we could get back and get out of the rain.
Eventually after 3 hours and 15 minutes we got to the finish. I have no idea how I went because they havent put up the full results but I felt happy with how I went and learnt some valuable lessons about riding in the wind.
That was not all for the weekend though. The next day was the Victorian 100 km championships which I will write about tomorrow or on Thursday.
The 2013 Preston Mountain Classic is a handicap race of 135 km. The race consists of two 65 km laps around Strath Creek with a 3km hill at 20 and 85 km with an average gradient of 6%. After the two laps the finish is on a 2km hill that averages 9%.
The race profile
In the race there was 6 groups of around 20 riders except the 1st group (limit) which had 6 riders. I started in the 3rd group which meant I started 18 minutes in front of the best riders (scratch). Our group started out well with everyone taking their turn on the front. In the first 15 km the race didn't feel that hard and I didn't know if this was normal or not because I'm use to doing much shorter races (my longest race before this was 80 km). This started to change as we hit the first climb though. Our group began to slow down, but one of the more experienced riders Brendan Washington made sure our group didn't slow down too much. This was probably because he knew the riders trying to catch us wouldn't be slowing down at all. As we went up the climb not many riders wanted to help keep the pace up but a few of us realised that we needed to help Washo at the front if we were going to have any chance of staying away from the chasing riders.
Our group before the start (Image from: https://twitter.com/cyclingvictoria)
The majority of out group managed to stay together over the climb and as we went down the other side we managed to hit speeds approaching 75 km/h. This long downhill gave me a good opportunity to refuel. My refuelling strategy that I came up with 15 minutes into the race was to have a small piece of energy bar every 20 minutes, a gel every 60 minutes and 750 ml of water/ 1 litre of homemade energy drink as I needed it.
As we went down the descent our group split up a bit, but as we approached the bottom our group got back together and we kept rolling turns. At around 55 km into the race we caught the two groups that started in front of us which meant we now had around 30 - 40 people in our group trying to stay away from the chasers. The majority of this group kept rolling turns until we hit the hill for the second time. Many riders seemed to be struggling (including me) and those that weren't struggling went to the front to try and keep the pace. Even though I was struggling as we hit the climb I knew I needed to be at the front. The reason I needed to be at the front is because being at the front allows me to drift from the front of the group to the back as we go up the climb. This is a good thing because it means I'm not going as hard and using as much energy as the riders that are staying at the front, but I'm also not getting stuck behind slower riders at the start of the climb.
Image from: http://www.jouptonphotography.com.au/
After the climb and the descent our group got back together again, but it had been reduced in size. We began rolling turns again, but as we got closer to the finish fewer and fewer people were rolling through. The speed of our group seemed like it was slowing down and then a few riders attacked up a short hill. Even though they didn't get very far ahead this was a bad thing. It put more people in the hurt box and this meant that the numer of people rolling turns was even less. As we turned left to head back towards Strath Creek I became one of these riders in the hurt box. I was staring to struggle and began sitting on.
Image from: http://www.jouptonphotography.com.au/
At about 5 km to go I knew that I had to start moving up near the front. Not long after moving up, Brendan Washington attacked. No one even responded they just let him go. I didn't try and go with him because I knew that I wasn't going to be able to hang on for that long. As soon as we hit the bottom of the climb our group split up and because I had already move up before the climb I was in the front group.
At about 1 km to go Scratch caught and went flying past us. As they came past riders from my group tried to go with them but I knew that I was better off riding my own rhythm. This worked as I managed to go back past a lot of the people that were in my group in the last 500 m before the finish.
I ended up getting 23rd out of every one and I finished 4th out of the people that started in my group. I was happy with this as it was a senior race with 104 starters. Furthermore it was the longest race I have ever done (by 50 km) so it's good to know I can do it in the lead up to the important races over the next few weeks.
Full Results: http://www.vic.cycling.org.au/?ID=50567
GPS Link: http://ridewithgps.com/trips/1455150