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%.
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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. 
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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.
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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.
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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

Photos: http://www.jouptonphotography.com.au/
                http://jxpphotography.com/
 


Quasts
07/02/2013 2:42pm

Woo Hoo. Go Ryan! 🚴

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Jenny Allen
07/02/2013 6:11pm

Great race Ryan, well written

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