Indian Pacific Wheel Race – Part Two Adelaide to Melbourne

Up until now racing had been quite relaxed, if you can call 300kms a day relaxed. The course was flat and navigation had not been an issue, let’s face it, for most of the race so far there had only been one road to follow.

The tempo of the race was increasing, through Port Augusta and Adelaide I had leapt a number of riders and was now in the top 10. It was time to start attacking and in my sights was Callum. This would become the epic battle, right to the last day.

Day 10 – Adelaide to Kingston SE

It was a later start to the day, starting at 0600h. This was in part so I could say goodbye to my mate, rather than sneaking out at some ungodly hour. It was also self-imposed time penalty, in order to stay with my mate I had gone off course and cut about 30kms off the ride. So delaying my start by a couple of hours was a fair penalty, of course, some would argue getting another couple of hours of sleep wasn’t really a penalty. However this late start came with another penalty, I now had to navigate down Port Wakefield road in heavy traffic to get to Adelaide and this was not for the faint-hearted. It was dark, trucks, high-speed limits, poor roads, no shoulders in part, in short, it was about as bad as it gets when it comes to commuting on a bike.

Conversely, the ride out of Adelaide was good, mainly because I was now going against the flow of traffic. The climb out of Adelaide over the ranges was enjoyable, I still had concerns about my leg muscle, but it felt ok going up the hill. Being peak hour there was still a fair amount of traffic on the roads meaning I had to pull over a few times on the climb to let the cars through.Navigation was now becoming a factor as I started to work my way around the roads in the Hahndorf region. I wasn’t using my Garmin for navigation, so I didn’t have access to turn by turn directions. Instead, I was using a set of maps on my phone, this probably slowed me down a little as I was constantly pausing to check I was on the right track. The Adelaide Hills was a lovely region to be cycling in. Traffic was probably a little heavier than I would have liked but it was a Friday morning, but could certainly see the appeal. It was also a fair bit cooler up in the hills compared to the city itself.

It was a day of ups and downs. I arrived in Murray Bridge feeling good and was being assisted with a tailwind. Managed a quick stop and good feed before continuing on to Tailem Bend. Then I turned south into a head/crosswind, and just like that, it almost broke me. Travelling south down along Lake Alexandrina there is minimal cover, and you are very exposed to the crosswinds. I remember stopping multiple times through frustration and exhaustion, then one of the stops I checked the race situation on Maprogress, which I had never done before during the day up to this point. I surprised to see I had made ground on Callum, I guess we were all doing it tough. But this provided me with the motivation I needed to get me going again. So it was a quick stop at Meningie for food and resupply before turning south-west and catching the wind again. The chase was on again.

I arrived at Salt Creek at dinner time, in early days of the race I would have stopped for the night, but the tempo of the race was building. It was still light so I wanted/needed to push on, it was another 84k to Kingston SE. I knew it would be dark when I arrived, I called ahead and managed to secure the last cabin at the caravan park, this gave me a sense of security as I knew I had somewhere to stay. So it was a quick burger at the roadhouse and then back on the road. The roadhouse was itself was quite bizarre. Quite austere on the outside and then an eclectic mix of fishing rods and mounted deer heads on the inside.

With 84k to go I was in full time trial mode and feeling strong, I smashed through the first half but then run out off puff and progressively went downhill and not in a good way, the last 5kms was a struggle. I rolled into Kingston SE around 0930h straight into the roadhouse and was able to resupply, I must have been tired because I made some poor choices with my food, it was good enough, just not enough of it.

I found the caravan park but is close to 2300h before I was settled and in bed. It had been a long, but I was happy to make it to Kingston SE, given the late start I had in Adelaide.

 

Day 11 Kingston SE to Portland

I started the day without enough food and struggled, I stopped frequently through exhaustion even for a lie-down once, which attracted the attention of a passing motorist who was concerned for my well being. I thanked him for his concerned but assured him I was alright. Breakfast finally came when I reached Beachport after 88kms. Breakfast wasn’t what I was hoping for, but a couple of pies and sweet treats from the local bakery got me back on top. It had taken me I while, but it was this stint that finally made me realised how much I should be eating. From this point on, I vowed to stuff my face at every opportunity.

My mates at Beachport
Lunch at Mt Gambier

 

 

 

 

 

 

As I rolled through Millicent I had my first encounter a first dot watcher. There was a man on the side of the cheering me on and streaming the moment live on Facebook. To say I was surprised was an understatement. I just wasn’t prepared for any sort of attention, I really didn’t think it was that big a deal. Maybe for the leaders but I was just another rider in the pack.

The road into Mt Gambier was unpleasant, busy and the shoulder was in terrible condition, forcing you to ride on the right-hand side of the white line but this required constant checking for cars coming up from behind. It was mentally draining.

I was feeling motivated thanks to my overly enthusiastic cheer squad sending me regular updates. So it was a quick lunch at McDonalds, it was also from this moment McDonald’s became my go-to place for food, it was fast, cheap, high in calories and I knew what to expect. I’ve previously visited Mt Gambier a number of times, so I knew the town and its lakes. I was keen for a photo stop but couldn’t find the right opportunity, and I was becoming too focused on the race to waste time with photo stops. As I was leaving Mt Gambier I hooked up with another dot watcher who rode with me for a while. It was great to have some company, importantly he was able to give some great intel on Callum and his condition, it was good to be the hunter.

The section from Mt Gambier to Nelson was good. A combination of favourable winds, quiet roads, being fuelled up and newly acquired intel on Callum had me fired up. It was clear I was in better condition than Callum, and I was keen to press home the advantage. It got a little trickier from Nelson to Portland. The roads were tight, rolling twisting roads with very little shoulder. This would have been okay except the logging trucks. Unlike the Nullarbor where the trucks had a good line of sight to the riders, because of the twisting, rolling roads it meant there was little warning of approaching trucks. On numerous occasions on this section, I found myself just getting off the road as a matter of self-preservation.

I was making good time as I arrived in Portland only to discover two things. The first one was how accurate the Spot Trackers devices are. I had just arrived at the Woolworths to resupply when Shannon, the King of Portland and avid dot watcher found me. This lead to discovery two, that I had made a navigation mistake and cut off about 15kms of the course. This lead to a dilemma, what to do as I was closing in on Callum and taking the shortcut didn’t seem fair. Strictly by the rules if this were an official race, I would have needed to go back to the point I left the course and start again. But given this was an unofficial race so Shannon and I agree the best thing to do was rejoin the course part way to make up the 15kms to ensure I at least didn’t gain any advantage.

To help me out, Shannon rode with me to show me the way, this culminated in Shannon taking me to his place. He had set up the most fantastic rest stop for the IPWR riders, food, water, beds, whatever we needed. Apparently many in the town had contributed to setting it up. It was a welcome gesture and certainly appreciated. I considered staying there for the night, but I was keen to chase down Callum, so I kept going. However just as I got to the edge of Portland it started raining, and it was getting dark, this was enough to convince me to call it a day. So instead of staying the relative comfort of Shannon’s stopover I was now sleeping on pine bark at the caravan park, it was as close to sleeping rough without sleeping rough.

Day 12 Portland to Geelong

Thanks to the pine bark I didn’t have a great night’s sleep and ended up making it an early start. Callum had ridden long into the night and built up a good lead on me again. As I made my way to Warrnambool, I passed a number of places that would have made a better overnight stop than the caravan park I had stayed up, but them’s the breaks when you’re racing. I arrived in Warrnambool in good shape, in had been a good morning, I had quick breakfast at McDonalds, a resupply, and I was on my way again.

A howling tailwind was picking up, and I knew it was going to be a good day, I hit the Great Ocean Road and started to crank it up so there was no time for tourist stops or photos. The one exception being Martyr’s Rock, only because I didn’t have to leave the course to get the photo, it’s also probably the least spectacular of rock formations. Shortly after Martyr’s Rock, I had another encounter with some dot watchers. As I was motoring along, I sensed a vehicle coming up behind me, I didn’t think much of, it was probably just another passing motorist. To my surprise, it was a white van with a couple of guys hanging outside, one with a camera and one starting asking me questions, interview style. It was all quite surreal.

Lavers hill was bigger than I was expecting and probably steeper but I so fired up at this stage it really didn’t matter. I stopped in Lavers Hill for lunch, there wasn’t much on offer, but it was enough to keep me going. I suspect I stopped at the wrong place, a tip for future riders, don’t stop at the first cafe at Lavers Hill, it looked like there were better shops up the road a bit. Still, I did find out upon my arrival Callum had only left 20 minutes before my arrival, if I made it a quick stop, I could limit the gap to under an hour.

The descent from Lavers Hill was the first long and steep descent. On any regular ride this wouldn’t be a challenge, but when your bike so loaded up, the weight distribution really throws handling off, meaning you need to pay a little more attention going into those corners. I arrived in Apollo Bay, it was all about catching Callum now, so this was the formula one of the pit stops for the IPWR. I literally ran into the shops for food and water, and I was back on the bike. This was not a day for sightseeing or long lunch breaks.

I was making good time along the Great Ocean Road, but I could not catch Callum. There were numerous road works along the way, which meant forced pauses waiting as the road was reduced to one way traffic. At one of these stops, I was talking to the traffic marshal who was able to provide me with another update on Callum. He described him as being somewhat agitated because of all the road works and had expressed his frustrations at being held up all the time because I was catching him. Once again, this was good intel because it gave me an insight into Callum’s state of mind. In comparison, I was quite relaxed, enjoying the ride and catching him. I was in no rush to catch him, there was still a long way to good, but by my estimates, I had reduced the gap to about 10kms.

The plan had been to get to Torquay for the day, but the chase was on so there was no way I was stopping when it was still light. Which is unfortunate because Torquay looked really nice compare to Geelong. By the time I got to Geelong though it was getting dark, while I was keen to catch Callum, there was my golden rule “Don’t overextend yourself”. It was about 1830h, being a big town I wasn’t keen on sleeping rough for security reasons. I was tired and probably wasn’t thinking too clearly but finding a place was harder than it should have been. In the end, I found a rather seedy looking motel which was close to the course, and when I say seedy, it was the sort of place where the owner knew the “working” girls on first name basis. By the time I found shops, food and got myself cleaned up it would be pushing 2230h.

The last thing I did for the day was to check on the progress of Callum, he had pushed on Lara. I was quite impressed; it had been a long hard but satisfying day, and Callum had withstood my challenge. Overall I think had reduced his lead marginally. I knew he had ridden longer into the night and would probably start later the next day, but I was planning the same. I planned to pit stop in Melbourne for a tyre change, knowing the shops didn’t open until 0830h, there wasn’t much point to super early start, so an extra of sleep would do me good after the hard day we just had.

HPRW Club M4 Crit Championships

I don’t usually write race reports for club races but this was an odd one.

I hadn’t really prepared for it and wasn’t expecting much, I was pretty going there to say hello to the new club and to get some race time and fitness in.

The M4 race was a 30 minute plus 2 lap crit. Race started as expected and we were doing laps as expected with a few half hearted break away attempts which didn’t amount to much and were brought back easily.

Then at about the 22 minute I went up to do a turn on the front. As usual I like to apply a little pressure just to keep the people behind me working. After about half a lap I looked over my shoulder to see who was up next and to my surprise there was nobody there, I had ridden off the front, with the bunch about  200 metres behind and the M2 bunch between. Unsure of what to do or how it happened I actually sat up and thought about letting them catch me. Then in a split second I thought “Hang on, I can use the M2 bunch to cover my escape” So I upped the pace to about 44km/hr and thanks to racing with a power meter I knew I was pushing about 350 watts which was sustainable for me with time left in the race.

After about 2 laps out in the front I could see my lead was out to about 400 to 500 metres. Which was good, because I figured at the pace I was going and with 2 laps to go it was going to be hard for them to catch me,  I was starting to think I was in with a real chance of staying away.

Then with one lap to go, I caught the M3 bunch which had started two minutes before us, boy, those guys were having a slack day :). This helped me initially as I imagine it would have been harder for the M4 bunch to get around them than a single rider further helping my escape. However as we came down the finishing straight it was impossible to tell the M4 from the M3 riders and Andy Patten came from out of the bunch to roll me on the line. Still coming second to Andy Patten is something I can live with. Maybe I could have worked harder on that final lap but that is all “what ifs”

In the end I think I was just lucky, being the new guy I suspect when I went off the front, nobody knew who I was and let me got. That is the sort of thing you only get away with once.

My take-aways from the race.

  1. Never give up, Once you get in a breakaway, you need to commit 100% or don’t bother. Just get your head down and go for it.
  2. Racing with a Power Meter rocks. Especially in situations like this it allows you control your effort so you don’t blow yourself to pieces trying to break away.

Canberra Tour ’10

 

To start with, what a great weekend of racing that was. As usual a big thanks to the Canberra Cycling Club, Jason Parkes and all the volunteers for putting on another great tour. Even though this was the lowly D2 race, the grading was just right which made for good competitive racing.

Saturday

Stage 1 – was a nice 79km stage (which ended up being 89km) starting from Stromlo through Uriarra crossing and out to the first hill going to Condor Creek and because the organisers were so nice they said we could do two laps of the course, so that meant doing the three sisters climb twice, nice! In total that was 1500m of climbing.

The bunch started off all eager, too eager in fact with a number of guys crossing the double white lines. This happened a few too many times so the race director pulled us over and had chat with us to curb our enthusiasm. He also lightened a few wallets by $50 for their indiscretions. In reality there was no need to jump the white lines; the race was not going to won in the first 10km.

Another good move this year was not to have the KOM climb coming out of Uriarra crossing, this meant there were no stupid moves going down the three sisters into crossing, which is a really dangerous piece of road.

The first notable event came 30km into the race as we climbed the three sisters for the first time. I still don’t know what happened but in an instant 2 riders went down in front of me, a Vikings rider and CCC rider. I guess it was a touch of wheels and while crashes are never a good thing I figure I would rather crash going up a hill than down one. Anyway there was a moment of confusion, I wasn’t sure if I should stop to help or keep riding. Somehow it feels really callous to keep riding but I guess that’s racing. Anyway their misfortune was my good fortune as it allowed me to pick up my first points in the KOM comp.

So the pedalling continued for another lap with not much action until we returned to the three sisters again. Then the first of my glory moments, as I started to climb the three sisters in my big chain ring, I still don’t know what happened but I suddenly found myself off the front going uphill, inconceivable, at 88kg I’m no hill climber, but there I was stomping to the top of the first rise. By the time I made it to the top of the second rise I knew I had this one in the bag, Wow, my first contested hill climb which I have won and I was pretty stoked. I will say having the home ground advantage does pay off, I’ve been riding that hill every week for the last eight weeks in preparation, so that training thing really does work. At the top of the climb I had moment of clarity, I’m not Jens Voigt and I’m not going to be able to hold these guys for the last 10km so I sat up and rejoined the bunch.

The final 2km was the stuff we all wish for. Coming back into Stromlo I was in 5th or 6th position then as we went past the roundabout a gap opened up and I just felt that this was it. I poured it on, I felt my back wheel skip but I was off. Coming back onto the crit circuit is a nasty negative camber corner, I knew someone was on my wheel so this was no time to slow down, in another first for me I abandoned all fear and just went for it. Going down the back straight I knew was in bad position but I was committed and had to go for it. Coming into the final 400m I had Mark Toyer on my wheel but I knew there was no time to play as the bunch was only about 30-40m behind us. At this stage I figured I would rather go hard for second than be swallowed up by the bunch on the line. At 200m Mark made his move and went wide for the sprint. The next 200m seemed liked a lifetime. I remember looking over and thinking “not this time”; I also remember “shit! My hands aren’t in the drops; you can’t sprint with your hands on the hoods”. Crossing the line was awesome; there I was with half wheel on Mark, I did it, I actually won a sprint, another first for me and this one actually meant something, usually I’m sprinting for a minor placing. I now know why people are addicted to sprint finishes, the rush is awesome.

03/07/2010 Update: I was given the photo below of the race finish. So much for the half a wheel thing, but it sure felt like it at the time.tour s1 finish 5

And there it was, I was the leader of D2 race, what a buzz, but it was to be short lived.

Stage 2 – The 3.5k time trial up Mt Stromlo. I always knew this was not going to be my thing and my start didn’t help. Seconds before the start, I back pedaled to get my feet into position and I dropped my chain. “Stop the race” I thought, “back pedal, back pedal”, trying to get the chain back on, that’s not working. Off the bike, fix the chain, “which chain ring should it be on?” don’t care just get it working. Back on the bike, lots of colourful language helps sooth me. I managed to get going but I was definitely rattled. I figure I had lost at least 10 seconds.

 

Getting near the top I caught the rider in front of me but my chest felt like it was going to explode, I was struggling to draw to breath and pedal. I was definitely in my own little world of hurt. I knew I only had about 300 metres to go but pedaling 300m has never been so hard. Crossing the line was a great sense of relief but I knew my race lead was in trouble and sure enough moments later I see James Fowler come over the line and I’m thinking “oh that’s not good”. As it turns out James had posted the best time for the time trial.

At the end of the day Mark Toyer lead the race with James behind by 7 seconds and I was I further 2 seconds off James. So the dropped chain had cost me the race lead, unfortunate, but that’s way racing goes and I still had a stage win so I had to happy with that.

Sunday

Stage 3 – Stromlo to Tidbinbilla and return, another 87km with 1300m of climbing. Another great day for racing but as we headed into Uriarra crossing the fog was still pretty thick which made it interesting, more so for the rider who had broken away and was in the fog by himself. He was only about 200m in front of us but was nowhere to be seen.

The day’s racing really started at the first KOM of the day with climb at Pierce’s Creek. It’s just over 1km with a steady gradient approaching 10%. Mark Toyer won that one with James and me out of the points. With the 3 second time bonus I now figured it was going to be pretty hard to catch Mark so I was going to play it safe and see what I could at the end, hoping for another good finish.

The race then slowed down at this stage, I think it all became a game of cat and mouse. I was on Mark’s wheel and James was protecting his 2 seconds by never being more than 6 inches from my back wheel. Then just before the turnaround the slow pace gave one of the CCC riders the chance to breakaway, to his credit Mark Moerman did a great job and was gone. I really had my doubts if we would see him again.N113821_ND3_3843_web

The second KOM of the day was Mt McDonald. Its good climb and the finish suited me as it starts to level out and at the line it’s only about 2% gradient. With a little help from Ian Mongan from Team Quon and fellow ADCC member he gave a nice lead out for the sprint to the line. Mark had seen this move coming and there was a bit argy bargy to be on Ian’s wheel. But in the end I think Mark knew he had the KOM competition in the bag and left it to me. James made a big effort to stop me but I still managed to claim 2 seconds on the line, Mark Moerman was still off the front at this stage.

Coming to final climb of the day at the 3 sisters, there wasn’t going to be any glory from the previous day; the legs were definitely starting to suffer.  The time bonuses went to a few riders who hadn’t previously been in the running so nothing was lost and Mark Moerman was still off the front.

Then in a nicely scripted finish we caught Mark Moerman with about 5km to go, so it was all together for a big finish, just like the Pros.  Coming over the last crest before Stromlo there was a surge, as we went for it for I noticed James was suffering and didn’t respond, I wasn’t feeling great myself, cramp was starting to set in, but I thought “here are my 2 seconds”

Coming onto the track I was nicely placed but I was suffering and I knew it was going to hard to do a repeat of the day before. At 200m I was still in about 6th but then Ben Huff from who was leading blew up and went wide to get out of the way, the trouble was I was already committed to going around him for the sprint so it pushed me even wider and lost momentum. That was it, with the cramp, I had nothing left and scrambled as best as I could get over the line in 10th, same time as Mark Toyer and 6 seconds in front for James Fowler. Second place was mine or was it? Either way my legs were finished.

In the end the final results showed Mark Toyer winning the race and well deserved win it was, Mark displayed great sportsmanship over the two days making him a deserving winner. James came in second, 5 seconds back after finishing back 6 seconds on the stage and I finished 3rd back another 15 seconds. I know this doesn’t make sense, we all questioned it but in the end that’s the way the results were published. Win some, lose some, it was still a great weekend of racing.

 4579418953_89a39e25d1_b

So I ended up with one stage win, 2nd in the KOM and 3rd in the GC, you’ve got to be happy with that. One thing that makes me smile is fact that James was 16 years younger and 22 Kilos lighter so with 3000m of climbing over the two days and to only finish 15 seconds behind wasn’t bad. Also in twist it turns out I finished the race with a slow puncture, in way I was lucky to finish the race so I really should be thankful I still got third. Karma I think it is called.

03/07/2010 Update: As it turns out, the officials reviewed the results some time later and it turns out I did finish in second place, 10 seconds behind Mark Toyer.

Tour of Canberra stats

With the Tour of Canberra coming up next week here are a few stats which might be of interest. This data was taken from the online entry form which is publicly available material. Some of the age data was a little dodgy so I had to remove of the ages which didn’t make sense, like -14 etc.

Men Avg Age NSW ACT VIC SA QLD Tas WA total
A Grade 24.04 25 11 16 0 13 12 7 84
B Grade 30.04 36 16 2 0 1 0 0 55
C Grade 33.50 20 19 1 0 0 0 0 40
D1 Grade 36.45 18 29 0 0 0 0 1 48
D2 Grade 38.50 8 11 0 0 0 0 0 19
E Grade 38.32 22 39 0 0 1 0 1 63
    129 125 19 0 15 12 9  
Women                  
A Grade 26.38 8 8 12 1 11 2 3 45
B Grade 31.18 1 8 2 0 0 0 0 11
C Grade 36.38 4 9 0 0 0 0 0 13
    13 25 14 1 11 2 3  
Total   142 150 33 1 26 14 12  

2009 National Masters Road Championships Entry Stats

For those of you lucky enough or mad enough to be going to the 2009 National Masters Road Championships here is a break down of the competitors for the events and the grades.  For those you who are from the flatter parts of Australia you are not going love the course for the Road Race. Come to think of it the ITT course isn’t much better.

Road Crit ITT
Total 303 226 181
ELITE 50 34 32
MMAS1 5 3 2
MMAS2 40 28 18
MMAS3 36 25 23
MMAS4 38 29 19
MMAS5 30 17 19
MMAS6 32 25 17
MMAS7 20 16 9
MMAS8 13 8 9
MMAS9 7 7 5
WMAS1 2 2 2
WMAS2 7 8 9
WMAS3 4 3 2
WMAS4 8 8 3
WMAS5 7 9 7
WMAS6 2 2 3
WMAS7 2 2 2
Top Ten Clubs for each event
Vikings 17 Vikings 23 Canberra 17
Penrith Panthers 15 Canberra 17 Vikings 16
Canberra 14 Northern Sydney 11 Illawarra 7
Illawarra 11 Penrith Panthers 11 Bicisport 6
Northern Sydney 11 Sutherland Shire 9 Hunter District 6
Hunter District 9 Hunter District 8 Northern Sydney 6
Parramatta 9 Illawarra 8 Nowra Velo Club 6
Carnegie Caulfield 7 Bicisport 7 Penrith Panthers 6
Manly Warringah 7 Parramatta 7 Randwick Botany 6
Peloton Sports Inc. 7 Peloton Sports Inc. 7 Sutherland Shire 6
Sutherland Shire 7

These numbers were taken from the Cycling Australia site.