As I awoke at 6:15 on Saturday morning it was still dark, but not as cold as I expected. It was the first time in a long time I've done one of the plant farm rides. I soon encountered one of the biggest challenges of a plant farm ride, deciding how to dress. This is a challenge because the ride gets warmer as you go along so it's hard to not be too cold at the start and not too hot at the end. For example on this particular ride it was 10 ºC when I started dropped down to 8 ºC. and finished at 21 ºC.  I ended up getting it right though which was good. 

The ride ended up being roughly 4 hours and 117 km which was good considering my training plan said to do between 100 - 120 km. We rode from Wodonga through Tangambalanga to Yackandandah down Indigo Creek road and back home. The ride ended up being pretty good except that four people got flats and I couldn't attack / follow the moves off the front because I still had another ride in the afternoon.

After the first ride I got home had a recovery drink, a shower, lunch and then started packing to go to Wangaratta for their club time trial in the afternoon. We got to Wangaratta and signed on for the race. I went to start warming up for the race and realised I had forgotten something. My bag that had everything in it. My shoes, my helmet and my glasses. This didn't stop me though we found some one that had a spare pair of shoes that were only 1 or 2 sizes to big and a Kmart helmet that was in the club shed. 

The forgotten bag.
This race was important for a few reasons. It was on the same course as the state title later in the year, it was my first on the new TT bike and I suck at time trials so I need as much practice as I can get. The main aim of the race was to try and work on my pacing as this is the area I struggle most with in a time trial.

The aim with the pacing was to try and hold my heart rate at 88% of my max (181 bpm) on the flats go slightly above this on the hills and slightly below on the downhills and go as hard as I could for the last 2 km. I felt that I got my pacing from the start to the first turn around right (segment 1). But I backed off too much on the down hill bits (yellow circles below) and maybe need to start going hard for all of segment three instead of just the last 2 km.



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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.
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


Your probably wondering who the 'Junior Cyclist' actually is. I am an U19 road cyclist from Wodonga. I first started riding in about year six when I rode the 5 km to school ( I didn't make it all the way home though dad had to pick me up). In year seven I got my first mountain bike for my birthday and started riding with my friends every weekend. 

Then one day at school there was an announcement for a road bike race, I thought that sounded like an easy way to get a day off, so I went along to the race. With two laps to go in the race some ones foot came off there pedal and every one slowed down to miss him, luckily I was scarred and siting at the back with a bit of a gap to everyone else so I didn't have to slow down. I wen't for it and held off the chasing pack. Because I won the race I got to go through to the state round in Geelong, I don't really remember what happened in that race  but i've been road bike racing and training ever since then.

So fast forward three years and that is where we are now. I am apart of the Lavington panthers cycling club and I now have a coach ( the school teacher who told me about the first race). I ride almost every day of the week, either on my mountain bike, on the way to school or out training on the road.


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