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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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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.
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.
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