The tour of Wangaratta is usually a 4 stage race over 2 days, but this year was different due to the rain. As we arrived at Wangaratta it was pouring with rain and there were cars driving back out of the car park. I feared the worst, the race might be called off! Luckily it wasn't though, the race was only postponed for 3 hours which gave us some time to go to the bakery and get food.
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The start line was a bit wet.
After the delayed start and the race being reduced to 3 stages we set off on 2 laps around the Glenrowan course with a hill top finish on Tamanick Gap. The race started with a few attacks but nothing too much, I was just focused on keeping near the front to keep myself out of trouble if there was a crash due to the rain. On the second lap I tried to go off the front a few times but never really got a gap. After awhile two riders managed to get a gap but it was on the downhill stretch of the course and there was a big group of riders from Coburg that were strong enough that their gap never got very big. They were so strong in fact that when the team leader gave the command at 2 km to go the whole team went to the front and bought back the two riders with ease. After the break was caught all the junior riders came to the front, this was because the junior riders that were in my grade are all good climbers (I think one was a national champion a few years ago) and knew they would be up there fighting for the win. As soon as we hit the final climb the pace ramped up significantly, I held on with the front riders until they started to sprint but as soon as they accelerated I couldn't hang on any longer. I still had to keep sprinting though because I was neck and neck with another rider. As we neared the top of the hill he managed to get past me, but the finish wasn't right at the top it was another 10 m. The other rider sat up as he went across the top of the hill and I managed to get back past him to secure 7th place.
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The course profile for stage 1
Day 2: The two stages for day 2 were a 60 km road race on the U17 state course in the morning and a 14 km TT in the afternoon.  Nothing much happened in the first 15 km of the race except I decided to sit a bit further back in the peloton than the day before because I knew that the Coburg team wouldn't let anything go off the front and it was fairly windy. Due to this wind I finally had to do something and move near the front as we approached the second corner of the race. I had to make sure I was near the front as we went around the corner because when you turn right the road gets really narrow and if the pace went up and people started to attack it would of been too hard to get around anyone. As we went around the corner the pace didn't pick up too much but it was lucky I had moved up because the peloton echeloned across the road and I was in the perfect spot.
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Example of an Echelon
After this we approached the bottom of the climb. Because we were near the bottom of the climb all the other junior riders started to come up to the front. The reason for this is because they are all really good climbers and didn't want to get caught behind any one else. As soon as the road started to climb the pace went up but I managed to hold my postion right at the front. As soon as the other riders attacked and accelerated as we neared the top I couldn't hang on any longer. But I had to keep going so I could try and catch them on the downhill. As we went over the top of the climb I was only around 20 seconds behind the leaders and managed to get in a chasing group. We caught the leaders as we went over the next hill near Glenrowan which meant there was around 10 of us in front. As we got on the narrow road for the second time a rider attacked. I didn't chase him though because I knew I was going to have a hard time making it up the hill so I left it to the strong riders to chase him down. As we approached the climb the second time I knew I had to stay with the front riders as long as possible because if I got dropped over the hill we didn't have very long to bring them back.  But in spite of this as we approached the top of the climb I got dropped again.

This meant that as we went over the top of the climb there was one rider out the front by himself, four riders chasing him and four riders (including me) chasing all of them. The group I was in was working really well together and we were all at our limits. As we got onto the finishing straight we were within 100 meters of catching the front riders. Then they started to slow down as they were thinking about the sprint and not staying away from us. Our group realised this and picked up the pace even further and dropped one rider. This lift in the pace made us get within 30 meters of the front group. But then they started to sprint and our group had nothing left to chase them. This meant we were so close to catching them but just couldn't make it. I had so little energy left that I couldn't even beat the people in my group in our sprint. This meant that I ended up with 8th place on the stage.
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The course profile for stage 2
Stage 3 was a time trial which was of interest to me because it used to be my worst aspect and I've been working hard to try and get better at it. The course was 14.6 km and exactly the same as the last time I did a time trial at Wangaratta with one significant difference. It was extremely windy with 35 km/h winds! This wasn't a completely bad thing though. It was a head wind for the first 2 km, a cross wind for the majority of the course and a tail wind for the last 2 km. This meant that I could go out harder than usual because for the last 2 km the wind would help to push me along.
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The blue line represent my heart rate and the red is the elevation
At the start I didn't have an aim for this particular race so I just tried to go as hard as I could in to the headwind. After the first corner I realised it might be possible for me to catch the rider that started 1-minute ahead of me. So this became my goal. In a time trial I usually use my heart rate to pace myself and try to keep it between 88% and 90% of my maximum. But because this time trial was the last stage of the race my legs were more fatigued than usual and I only managed to average 85%. In spite of this as I approached the second U-turn I was close to passing the rider in front of me. I wanted to go around him before the turn so I didn't have to slow down too much as I turned. This was a bad idea though, just as I got past him I braked and started sliding. This is because on the bike I was using I lean further forward than on my normal bike and don't have as much weight over the rear wheel and so it slides easier. I managed to keep the bike upright though and had to go back past the same rider again. After this I tried to keep pushing myself as hard as I could all the way to the finish line which I crossed in a time of 21:49. This secured me 5th place which I was happy with as it shows I'm finally starting to get better at time trials.
My reasonably good time trial time meant I moved up to 5th place on the General Classification. This was a good result as all the riders that finished above me are really strong. Furthermore it shows me what I need to work on and improve on in the lead up to states.

Full Results: https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B-8HJpoICKoPVXdkcEZLZ1RfYkE/edit
 
 
On Saturday the plan was to do around 60 km by first helping out at the junior race and then racing the senior time trial in the afternoon. So at 12 o'clock I went down and we rode 10 km out along Plunkets road as a group and then split up into smaller groups to race back in. The group I was coaching/ helping was to ride to the 'palm trees' which are two random palm trees on the side of the road. The group of three riders were working together well until the turn around. Coming up to the turn around I went to the front for two reasons, the first was so I could ride past each rider and let them know where we were turning around and secondly so I could control the speed so they didn't go too fast and crash.

Even though we were going really slow and everyone new where we were turning one kid still managed to crash. For some unknown reason he didn't brake as hard as everyone else and ran into the rider in front of him. This meant that even though he crashed we were going so slow he didn't get hurt and got up straight away. No one else came off but the person he ran into's bike was a bit worse for wear. The derailleur hanger bent and a few spokes on the wheel snapped. The good thing was that no one was hurt so all we had to do was call someone to pick up the kid with the broken bike and then ride back.

When we got back to the start I waited for Dad to bring down my time trial bike and rollers so I could start my warm up for the 18 km senior time trial. Usually for a club race I wouldn't bother warming up because a club time trial isn't serious enough but I decided to test the warm up I saw in one of the Greenedge videos on youtube. I was also testing a new time trial helmet and racing my time trial bike for the second time (the other time was at Wangaratta). 

Usually the start to a time trial is boring but this was different. The rider who was to start before me (you start at 1 minute intervals) missed his start time and only realised that he was 20 seconds late when the starter started frantically waving his hands for him to hurry up and get to the start. After watching the worst ever start to a time trial I tried to do it a bit better. The aim was to get up to speed quickly and the get my heart rate up where I wanted it to be which is between 88%  and 90% of my maximum heart rate. This heart rate is a bit higher than what I would usually try and hold in a time trial but most of the time I have too much energy left by the finish so I wanted to try and push myself a bit harder than usual. I managed to do this well until I went over Billies hill which was 12 km into the race. Normally in a time trial I start to lose focus on the downhill bit of the course because you go faster down the hill and then I sort of forget to keep pushing hard. But this time it was different I saw two riders in the distance and decided to try and catch them before the finish. The first riders was easy to catch as he had gone too hard on the uphill part of the course and didn't have any energy left. The second rider was not so easy though, he had started the race 2 minutes ahead of me and by the time I got to the top of the hill he was about 500-700 meters in front of me (I'm not too good at judging distance). Even though by the end of the race I didn't catch him I was not very far off  which was good for my overal time because it allowed me to push myself harder trying to catch him.
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The blue line represents HR. Compared to previous time trials it has a lot less dips in it which means I didn't lose concentration and slow down as much.
My time was 27:09 which is an average speed of 40.2 kph. I was happy with that because one of my friends who usually beats me was trying to average 40 kph and I though I would get no where near it. 
Full Results:  http://www.alburywodongacycling.com/home/2013/5/25/itt-fun-times.htmlGPS link: http://ridewithgps.com/trips/1347724


On Sunday I had to ride around 100 km which takes around 3-4 hours depending on how hilly the ride is. 3-4 hours of riding a bike by myself sounded a bit boring and the people I ride with most of the time were away racing in Ararat. So I decide to see if two of my friends I hadn't ridden with in a while wanted to go for a ride. They both wanted to go for a ride so the plan was to meet in Albury at 10 am then ride a lap around Bellbridge. When I left it was 8 ºC and the most it got to was 12 ºC so it was a good opportunity to try my new jacket and gloves which were very good, the jacket was perfect the whole way and the glove were a little cold at the start but good after I warmed up a bit. 
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The new Pearl Izumi Jacket
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The new BBB gloves
When I got to where we were meeting there was a problem. There was only one person when there was meant to be two, one rider got out of bed a bit late and didn't have his bike ready so told us to go on without him. He didn't miss much in the terms of good views though, all we could see was fog the whole way. After doing the lap around Bellbridge we headed back into Albury to get a coffe/ milkshake (I had the milkshake, coffee is disgusting!). After the drinks we decided we weren't quite satisfied so we ordered some banana bread the looked pretty good. After 15 minutes of waiting we went in to see what was happening, the lady serving said it would be ready soon so we went and sat down again. The worst bit about this was that as we sat down we saw her put it in the toaster/ grill thing and then she brought it out 5 minutes later. It took 20 minutes to toast a bit of bread. 20 minutes. Some times being a cyclist is hard, especially when after I finished the bread I rode home and saw that there was a place just down the road that had an open fire place.

GPS link: http://ridewithgps.com/trips/1350835
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The ride ended up being 99.4 km. The red line is where we went
 
 
A quick note: You can now subscribe so you get an email whenever there is a new post. Just put your email address in the box  on the right and press subscribe and you should get a conformation email. If this doesn't work check the junk folder in your emails and if that doesn't work either comment on this article or email me.

On Saturday riding related activities started somewhere you wouldn't expect me to be. The brewery shop. The reason I was there was not because I'm making my own home brew alcohol , but because I'm making my own home brew Powerade (the recipe to make the Powerade can be found here).

On Saturday I went down to help at the junior race. It was meant to be an easy roll with a few short efforts to get ready for the race the next day. For the first half of the ride it was easy as we were riding at a slow enough pace so even the youngest riders could keep up. This all changed when we got to the point where the race actually started. 

I thought that I would just be helping the juniors, as I was meant to be saving my legs fort the next day. But it turns out I was in the race. Clancy, Steve and I were chasing a bunch of younger riders but we somehow forgot about them and started attacking each other. As we came round a corner another rider who was late to the start joined in our group and we remembered that we were racing other people not just each other. We settled in to a good rhythm, but the damage was already done. We didn't stand a chance of catching any of the other groups so we were left to sprint it out between ourselves.

Not long after the race finished I was on my way to Castlemaine where I was staying the night with my coach (Geoff) and his son (Steve). 

On Sunday I woke up, had breakfast and made the short journey to Harcourt. I got to the start nice and early because this was the first time I had to get ready for a race by myself. I managed to stuff up one of the simplest things. I cable tied the transponder to the spokes of the wheel instead of the fork, not once but twice. After that I managed to not stuff up anything else and get to the start line on time.

My race was roughly 80 km and comprised of two laps of the small course then one lap of the big course.
The first lap felt easy as no one wanted to go on the front to early and therefore nothing much happened and I just tried to stay out of trouble and not touch the wind. On the second lap nothing much really happened either. The good riders forced the pace on a few of the hills, not enough to put me in difficulty, but enough to get rid of a few riders. I ended up getting dropped about 35 km into the race. This was because there was a 2 km hill at 4% followed by another hill that was 1.5 km long that was about the same steepness but flattened out near the top and went back up again. This is where I lost touch with the front group because the first hill raised my heart rate up to 189 bpm and then the pace was raised even more on the second hill and as it flattened out I let a small gap form and as it went up again I couldn't hang on.

But I hadn't given up yet. Two other riders got dropped at the same time as what I did so I tried to form a chase group with them. We were close to catching the main group but one of the riders in my group just seemed to give up and without him we couldn't catch the people in front. We slowly got further and further away from the front group until the other two riders told me it was time to give up on catching the front group. Without the others commitment it wasn't possible to catch the front group by myself so I had to listen to them and we settled into a rhythm to try and stay away from any riders coming from behind.

The other two riders had given up though, one of them even said "I'm lacking the motivation to even keep going". This meant a group from behind was catching us. They started to catch near one of the biggest hills in the race at 10 km to go. My aim was to get to the top of this hill before they caught me to make it easier to join in on the back of the group. This worked out well as only one rider caught me as I went over the top of the hill. I managed to get him and the other two riders that were in my group to start working together to make sure no other riders caught us. This worked because the four of us came towards the finish with no one insight behind us. 

As we came down the hill in to the finish I had to concentrate. I had to make sure I started my sprint at the right time, not too early but not too late. I timed it perfectly and won the sprint from my group. 

This meant that I got 8th place. I was happy with this as I was aiming for a top 10 finish.

Full results:  
http://www.vic.cycling.org.au/site/cycling/vic/downloads/Results/2013%20Winter/2013VicCountryRoadChamps.pdf


Link to the GPS file: http://ridewithgps.com/trips/1338174
 
 
The weekend of riding started on Friday night after school. One of my friends had just bought a new mountain bike and there are some tracks near my place I've been meaning to try for a while so we went and did two laps and ended up riding for an hour. 
On Saturday was one of the most unique races of the year. The Dirt Berg. The Dirt Berg is a 21.5 km  handicap with the last 8.4 km's being dirt. I started on scratch (the last group) 9 minutes behind the front group. The front groups were not the people to worry about though. The group 4 minutes ahead had many strong riders, Steve Damm (last years winner), Lisa Barry (team Bicycle Superstore), Charly McMillan, Clancy Lloyd and Liam McAllister. 

Our group's plan was to keep it together on the climbs and work hard as a group on the flat. We did the first bit well but I think a few people in the group struggled a bit so after the climb there was only a few people still rolling through. Because of this I decided to push the pace as soon as we hit the dirt to see who was actually struggling and who was just sitting on. This shook a few people off but not Liam McAllister (who we had previously caught). Liam attacked and I tried to close the gap quickly. In hindsight this was probably not the smartest thing to do. I would of been better of letting Liam go for a few reasons. Firstly he had been dropped from his group and we had caught him so therefore he wasn't so strong and secondly it would of forced other people to do more work. 
After closing the gap to Liam I decided to keep the pace up. This dropped Liam and left three of us trying to catch the remaining riders. Our group of three riders wasn't working too well though. It seemed like we were more worried about each other than catching the people in front.  At about 15.5 km into the race the attacks started. At around 4 km to go Andy Kaye put in a big attack and then after he was bought back Declan Gregory attacked as well. This all most finished me, after we caught Declan I was struggling to hang on the back. 

I knew that if Declan or Andy attacked again I wouldn't be able to go with them. So I decided to go to the front and try and keep the speed high enough to keep Declan and Andy from attacking. This worked until the last rise where one of them attacked and I couldn't hang on any longer.

This wasn't the end of the race though, even though there was only 500 meters left there was still another rider I had a chance of catching. So I kept going as hard as I could and caught him just before the line.

I was happy with this result because I kept up with much stronger riders right until the final climb. But I felt our group could of worked a bit harder before the dirt to try and catch a few more riders.

Results
1st Stephen Damm (41:05)
2nd Robbie Storey (St Kilda CC)
3rd Rob Belsher
4th Zac Drury
5th Rohan Christmas
6th Andy Kaye (FT - 40:29)
7th Chris Little
8th Declan Gregory
9th Ryan Allen
10th Mark Dunlop
11th Adam Farrugia 
 

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04/21/2013

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For the first time in 6 weeks I didn't have to travel to the race in the car. This was because this week I decided to do the local club race for the first time this season. I was meant to race in Wangaratta because their club race was on the same course as this year's state championships but during the week I started having a sore right quadricep (specifically the IT band) and therefore I decided to stay home and not hurt it further. 

I didn't end up missing out on too much, though the club race was hard (I averaged 88.3% of my Max Heart Rate). The race was a handicap which meant we had to make up 12 minutes on the front group. In my group there was five riders and we worked well together. Our group averaged 41.9 kph from the start until the turn around with a bit of a tailwind. Some riders were starting to struggle and on the way back we were starting to slow down. One rider (Brendan Washington) obviously sensed this and tried to go on alone. I wasn't expecting the attack and went too late to try and go with the move. The four of us left in the group continued to work together trying to bring Washo back, but we couldn't manage it. Coming in to the finish I wasn't really worried about my position, I just tried to keep pushing my self. I managed to hit 93% of my max HR and felt like I was going to throw up as I went across the line. I ended up with 10th, but the result didn't really matter as I was just trying to push myself as hard as I could which I think I managed.

Even though the race was so hard I decided to do a bit extra. After the race dad motor-paced me for 15 minutes at an average of 40 kph. This made the ride a solid 68 km in 2 hrs and 12 minutes.

Ride With GPS Link: http://ridewithgps.com/trips/1252008

Full Results: http://www.alburywodongacycling.com/home/2013/4/20/club-racing-week-3.html  

On Sunday the plan was to do a 60km ride in the morning with a friend but I couldn't be bothered to get up so I ended up going with dad in the afternoon. We did a loop through Albury, almost out to the weir and back in to Wodonga. One good thing to come out of the ride was that I figured out what was causing the soreness in my IT band. It turns out that when I changed the cleats on my shoes before Baw Baw the right one was not far enough forward which was causing me to over extend my leg and stretch the IT band. Even though we only moved the cleat a few millimeters forward the pain completely went away. It shows that little things can cause lots of pain while bike ridding and why a good fit is so important.
 
 
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The! Hardest! Race! Ever!

That's the first four words that come to mind when thinking of the race. The reason the race from Warragul  to the summit of Mt. Baw Baw was so hard was mainly because of the last 6 km up Baw Baw.  I was going so slow my Garmin thought I was stopped!  

This race also had other challenges as well. It was the first time I have raced over 70 km ( the race was 103 km) and it was the first time I have done a race with a feedzone. 

These challenges were not too great though. The distance didn't seem to affect me too badly, I actually felt better than the 80 km ride I did during  the week  (in terms of comfort, my legs were smashed). This was probably due to the fact that I had 4 choc mint gels, 2 bottles of electrolyte cordial and 2 bottles of water. The feedzone went almost as well. Dad passed me a bottle,  I didn't drop it and no one crashed. The only problem was that dad couldn't find the bottle I chucked.

Now on to what actually happened throughout the race. The first half was pretty much continuously the same thing.  A steep uphill, then a short downhill with everyone fighting for position at the front.

The second half of the race had 4 main parts to it. A steep downhill (11% for 2 km), then a 4 km climb at an average of 8% that seemed to get steeper as it went on, a series of 3-4 km uphills then downhills and Mt Baw Baw. Nothing too drastic happened on the steep downhill. A small group tried to get away but was brought back easily and I hit the fastest speed I ever have on a bike (88.9 kph). The same thing can't be said for the next section, a 4 km climb averaging 8%  with some parts getting up to 13.8%. As soon as we hit the bottom the pace lifted. I was feeling OK though. I had a good position at the front and my legs were feeling better than earlier in the day. Then we started hitting 12% ramps and I just couldn't hang on. I slowly went out the back of what was left of the main field. Then I slowly went backwards through the convoy of cars following the front group. The next section of the race was made up of 5 sections of 3-4 km climbs followed by 2-3 km descents. In this section of the race my aim was to try and catch anyone that had dropped off the main field, but at the same time not use up all my energy before Baw Baw. After the first descent I managed to get in a group of 6 and then we only passed a few more people before the bottom of Baw Baw. Two of the people we passed looked like they went down fairly hard and another who was standing beside the medic car looked like he had broken his collarbone.

The next section of the race deserves its own paragraph because it was so hard. Mt Baw Baw is a 10 km climb with an average of 10%. The first part of the climb isn't too bad. But then you come around a corner and it looks like there is a wall in front of you, and you still have 6 km to go. As soon as I hit the first wall all I could think of was making it to the next sign (there was a sign every km saying how far there was to go). After the first km of climbing all that I was thinking about was trying not to fall over because I was going so slow, then I started wishing dad hadn't driven off so I could get in the car. The next 4 km went pretty much the same as the first, then I realised that two riders were coming up behind me. I thought that after all the effort in the previous 100 km of racing I wasn't going to lose 2 more positions. My aim was just to get to 1 km to go sign ahead of the other two riders. I managed to do this but they were closing in fast, as I approached the 500m to go sign it finally 'flattened' out (it was still 8% but it felt flat after the rest of the climb). With 400 m to go I tried to pick the pace up and hold it to the line. I managed to stay ahead of the 2 riders chasing me and finish in 9th place overall.

I was happy with my result as I got dropped before the main climb and also improved on my 13th place in the Mt. Buller Road Race.

Results: 9th 
Time: 4h04:58

Strava Link: http://app.strava.com/activities/48730118

 

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