Monday, December 29, 2008

Tour of Bright, Adelaide and SASI

Hi all, I'm sorry it has been so long between drinks but if it makes it any better I have been feeling very bad about it.

Since I last posted (which was way back in NOVEMBER, yikes), I've raced a bit and trained a lot. The racing highlight was definitely Tour of Bright in north-easter Victoria on Dec 5-6. Every year the women's comp in particular just seems to get stronger and this year was no exception! Notable attendees included Vicki Whitelaw, Bridie O'Donnell, Carlee Taylor, Chloe Hosking, Kathy Watt, Myffy Galloway, Katherine O'Shea, the entire Australian talent ID/development squad, plus riders from ACTAS, QAS and SASI. Yikes indeed. I came as part of the NTID squad and spent a few days prior to the race in a team training camp, which for me consisted largely of feeling nervous while doctors laid bets on how many sets of antibiotics I could be prescribed without keeling over. (As an aside, have you ever tried carbo loading while taking an antibiotic 4 times a day that must be taken on an empty stomach, at least 2.5hours without eating? I thought climbing Hotham was hard, but this is a whole new way to torture the weak)

Despite a couple of minor mishaps, including a missing bike before the start of stage 1 (you always forget one thing...), the tour went well, far better than I'd expected. In short:
  • Stage 1 (79km Ovens to Bright via Rosewhite and Tawonga Gaps): 5th
  • Stage 2 (time trial): 7th
  • Stage 3 (56km from Bright to the top of Mt Hotham): 1st... in a solo break which was the race of my life. (the above pic was taken from the climb)
  • Overall General Classification: 3rd
  • Overal King of Mountains: 3rd

It was awesome to ride against such good riders and to get introduced to some team tactics as well! Vicki Whitelaw took out a well-deserved win and Sharna Gillow (QAS) was 2nd and KOM. It was an honour to be up there in the mix and to come away with 3rd on GC is something that I'll hold quite dear.

Tour of Bright was followed by a spectacularly unsuccessful day of fly fishing in Eildon which I believe I actually heard the trout laughing at me. My dreams of recreating a loaves-and-fishes-like scenario for the greater Fairfield region were crushed and in desperation I packed up my bags and moved to Adelaide.

SO... (and now I'm almost up to date), Christmas has come and gone, Nationals are almost upon us and I have just had the coolest Christmas present ever which was a SASI scholarship for 2009. If I can race as well as I can possibly race at Nationals then it'll even be worth skipping that ice cream tonight.

(*As a post-script, I have given up hope of winning a Wii with my paddlepop quest as my paddlepop partner in crime has inconsiderately left the country to race xc ski world cups overseas. Where's the dedication??)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Things I have learned...

It's now been 2 and a half weeks since I became a full-time athlete, and it's taking some getting used to. There are some really good things, like sleeping more and being able to train when the roads are quiet. And there are some not so good things. Like, how many more rainbow paddlepops do I have to eat before I win a Wii?? I just need to get that pesky end piece, and I'm not sure how much more ice confection I can take. And I'm not even sure if I really want a Wii anyway, but it's not about the Wii anymore, it's about NOT GIVING UP, even if it means dying in a sea of browny sludge outside the general store as all my rainbow paddlepops melt around me.

But mostly, the things are good. Top 5 thoughts of the week:

1. The Mountain Gym in Mt Beauty should be world heritage listed. Tin shed, never locked, no machines that aren't hand-made, lots of free weights and mirrors (because, let's face it, you can get as massive as you want but if you can't check yourself out while you're getting massive then what's the point?)... and no attendants (what are you, soft?). Gold.

2. No matter how hard I try, I will never look massive enough to be on a 'Bodybuilding Ladies of the Eighties' poster like those adorning the walls of said Mountain Gym. For starters, I don't think my hair is big enough.

3. Wild parrots who eat out of your hand are cool. Riding your bike on rollers is cool. Hungry wild parrots while you are riding your bike on rollers is NOT cool. (I survived... just)

4. The new James Bond film is pretty fun, but as far as I could work out there was no plot. Just a lot of Daniel Craig scowling. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing.

5. I am getting faster! Took 26 secs off my time on Monday's time trial in Bright (on a spanking S-Works TT bike kindly provided by DC @ Fitzroy Revolution - see left). Now down to 24:51. Yeah!!!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Great Dougherty Tour - a successful weekend

The Dougherty Tour is one of my favourites as it was my first tour since switching to cycling from duathlon in October 2007. This year I came as defending champion but with no great expectations as the field looked pretty sharp, with notables including Bridie O'Donnell (2008 national time trial champion), Chloe McConville (national xc ski team member and sprint guru) and Nicole Whitburn (top crit rider).

Anyway, I can honestly say that I was really chuffed with how the tour went. I won the first stage, a time trial up the 1 in 20 in the Dandenongs, in a PB of 15min53.7, 1.5 seconds clear of Bridie and a reasonable way ahead of the rest of the field. The 1 in 20 is a hill but not a steep one, so I didn't think as a hill climber I would have any real advantage and Bridie was the clear favourite going into the stage. So to find out that I had just pipped her was a huge confidence boost going into the second stage that afternoon.

Second stage was a road race in Yarra Glen, where the A grade women were bundled in with the C grade men to make it interesting. 3 laps of anything called 'Death Valley' is never likely to be easy and despite trying to make my moves on the hill, Chloe McConville took out line honours with me coming over in 2nd place. By the end of day 1 I was in the lead but with a crit left to go the next morning it wasn't going to be easy to retain it.

Sunday's start line had a couple of casualties which made my job easier, and a 2nd place to Chloe 'legs of steel' McConville was enough to secure me the overall tour win and a brand spanking plaque to adorn the trophy cabinet of Fitzroy Revolution.

Life as a full-time athlete!

On Friday 7 Nov I packed up my life as a lawyer and for the next 4 months I will be a full-time athlete. Hurrah! Until March 2009, I will be living and breathing bikes under the watchful eyes of supercoach Donna Rae-Szalinski and head cycling coach at the SA Institute of Sport, Gary West. My aim is to see what I am capable of without any distractions or interruptions. With the road national titles coming up in January, Oceania Champs in February, and the NZ World Cup round and Tour of NZ in Feb/March, I should have plenty of opportunities to really give it my best shot.

At the moment, I am based in north-east Victoria near Bright, which fellow roadies will know as a mecca for hill-climbing cyclists. It has mountains, rivers, quiet roads and awesome weather. Right now, it’s the perfect place to get some quality training. I have a few races in Vic in Nov/early Dec, then I’m moving to Adelaide to join Gary and the rest of the SASI/NTID crew.

Long-overdue thankyous!

To Andrew, my lovely boyfriend and favourite training partner, to my parents, to DC and the team at Fitzroy Revolution, Kevin Hancett at Gravity Zero, John Hill at Fastgear, Tammie Ebert, Gary West and Ben Cook at SASI, Donna Rae-Szalinski at Cycle Edge, and Jane Hodder and her team at Freehills – without whom I would not be able to do all of this.

Opening the account...

First job of the season was a time trial in Bright on Monday night (10 Nov). It’s the same course as the Tour of Bright, from Bright to Wandiligong and back, which is I think around 16km. One of my Summer goals is to improve my time-trialling, and for the purpose DC kitted me out with Fitzroy Revolution’s TT beast – a beautiful S-Works which got me around the course in 25m17 – something I was happy with but will be even happier to improve on.