“The Need for Edible Bar Tape”
Victorian Teams Classic – May 2006
(Newham, VIC – 120km over 4 Laps)
Apart from the above, I could have used a number of titles for this report:
“The Teams Classic from an Individual (very) Point-of-view”
“A Reminder of Warny Requirements”
“Three Hours, Twelve Minutes of Acute Agony”
I chose the one above because I knew it was the one most likely to be understood by you blokes. Bar tape needs to come in a variety of flavours for races such as this.
Some of you know the course and you probably wouldn’t describe it as hilly in normal circumstances. When it’s ridden the way it was on Saturday however, I would describe it as mountainous! I take a bit of pride in how I am able to perform on hills these days. Mostly due to my training with you guys. In the end though, it was the hills that got me in this one. You can only do them so fast so many times.
The day started out a beauty with sunshine and puffy white clouds surrounding the foothills of the MacedonRanges. It really is a beautiful place to race. Team vans, tents and bikes surrounding the Newham Hall, along with a couple of hundred people, made for an energetic and lively atmosphere.
Due to our ‘team’ commitments prior to the race, Shawy and I spoke for less than five minutes before the start. Part of that conversation included:
JS “Readie. I’ve heard they’re gunna hit it from the start.”
RR “Great. God help us to ignore the pain.”
Both of us had already remarked at how young all the riders looked. I secretly hoped that our suspicions were wrong re the hit. They weren’t. What else should we expect when racing against blokes like Dave Tanner, Pat Shaw, Dave Pell, Nick Walker, et.al.?
Great opportunity but a very hard day. Shawy and I made a few more references to our nerves prior to the start and then went our separate TFM and SHM ways. We haven’t seen each other since!
Two riders were nominated from each team to start at the front of the bunch. I was suspected to be one of the stronger ones in my team so I was there, along with Reece Van Beek who is a champion deaf/paralympic rider (riding for TFM). Considering my desire to stay as close to the front as possible, I was pretty happy with my starting position. Looking around at the faces surrounding me before the start though, I felt very out of my league!
(Those in the Warny last year will understand the philosophy of avoiding the need to cover too many gaps when the hammer starts to fall. The closer to the front the better).
About two kilometres of frantic compacto control behind a 4WD and we were off… big time. The speed rose immediately to 55kph and stayed there until the first set of hills. A KOM sprint on each lap at the top of the Rochford Hill (8k from the start) meant that the pace stayed high up to the KOM as the bunch pushed to stay with those hitting it off the front for the points.
I managed to hang on up these climbs and then recorded my fastest speed of the day (83kph) down the hill over the back.
We seemed to be flying around the whole of that first lap and I knew there was no way I was going to be able to maintain that pace for 120k. Around the back near Lancefield a small break went away and from what I’ve heard so far, I think they stayed away for the whole day in the end. No surprises to know that there were at least three VIS guys in the break, two of whom came first and second in the race.
There’s a small climb (big bloody mountain the way I was feeling) up to the last turn off before that three k straight back to the start/finish. I have no idea of the speed but we were hootin’ up this climb and flew around the left hander into a sharp agonising climb just before the last 1.5km of downhill slope for the lap.
I was trying harder and hurting more at this stage than I was just before I got dropped in the Warny last year. I managed to stay with them to the start of the second lap and then was quickly shelled as soon as we hit the hills for the second time. I knew the pace would stay high for the KOM points again and there was no way I could stay with them. The first lap average was about 43kph.
I rode for about ten kilometres on my own before I got caught by a small bunch rolling fast turns (initially trying to get back onto the front group). I was that knackered I nearly didn’t make it onto the back of this bunch. I did though, then it took me a good while to recover before I could actually help them by rolling with the turns myself. As far as guys you would know, this bunch included my team-mate Danny Cohen, Luke Hanley (Bicycle Superstore) and Daniel Bellis (Footscray CC).
When this group caught me there were about fifteen guys in it. We rolled solid fast turns for the next two and a half laps. I had time-out here and there along with pretty much everyone else in the group at different stages. Daniel Bellis and Danny Cohen were probably the strongest. The consistent pace of this group was faster than the pace I’ve ridden in any other race. Throughout most of it, it was touch and go in my mind as to whether I could hold onto it. I was aware that guys were gradually getting shelled as the numbers diminished.
I felt as though I never really recovered from the first one and a half laps though. I hung on and ignored the pain until towards the end of the hills in the last lap… then that was it. I watched the remaining six head off up the road and continued with a very solitary twenty k or so to the finish. I felt like I was the only one on the road. As I turned left into the last straight, the final climb of 500 metres felt like Mt.Buffalo at the end of the Alpine Classic. I’ve never been happier to roll over the top and down to the finish.
At the end of other races, I’ve often wondered how I could have gone if I’d put absolutely everything into it from the start. I usually finish with something in reserve. Not Saturday.
I thought I was probably going to be the last to finish. As it turns out, I was third last. 140 starters – 65 finishers (2 from my team) – 75 DNFs. I suspect nearly a third of the field were gone within the first 8 ks prior to the KOM.
It was a fantastic opportunity to race in this kind of event with this level of competition. I had a cracker of a day and will definitely bat up for the next one on 26th August, 2006. Will we have a 6am-er team?
There’s no better prep for the Warny which will be seven weeks later.