Geelong 3 day Womens Tour - February 23-25, 2003
Stage 1 30 lap Criterium, Sunday February 23
Organised with team jersey’s and numbers we rode down to the criterium circuit in the botanical gardens. It was very warm and I was a bit apprehensive of the hour of hell ahead. The circuit was about a kilometre with a bit of a climb, some sharp corners and rough roads. The corners required quite a reduction in speed which kept most of the bunch together for the first half of the race. Though Australian Oliva Gollan made a break and went solo on the 11th lap gaining a lead of up to 49 seconds. She was eventually caught but then jumped again and took the stage. Click here
for full results and race report on cyclingnews.com. Some of the results here are wrong, and duly amended before stage 2 as Meshy Holt had a great stage to finish 6th (not 60th)and I finished in the 3rd bunch, one lap down losing 2 minutes around 40th place (not 72nd!) It was a tough race and I was glad it was over.
Stage 2 84km Circuit race, Monday February 24
Our team rode the 17 km or so to the race at Drysdale as a warm up. I wasn’t feeling bad, though I wasn’t feeling on fire either. The circuit was a challenging one – very undulating with cross winds and not made any easier by the extreme heat of up to 39 degrees. Not a lot happened in the first lap of 21 km though on each of the rollers my legs seemed to get heavier rather than lighter and I doubted whether I was going to come right to see the end of the stage. As we came into the end of the first lap and the first sprint, I hung on but decided that Saturday’s race was still effecting my legs and pulled out at the start of the 2nd lap of the 4 lap race. Dellys Franke who also competed on Saturday did not start the 2nd stage (I’m guessing due to the effects of the Oceania race) however Mary Grigson, though she said she suffered throughout the stage did well to finish with the main bunch. As for the other kiwi’s – Meshy, Roz, Susie and Nadene finished with the bunch of 36 riders. The heat played it’s toll on some of the riders – both Nadene and Penny Warring visited the hospital later that night with differing degrees of heat stroke and dehydration. Penny was OK to start the 3rd stage however Nadene required another day to recover.
Stage 3 115km Road race, Tuesday February 25
During the drive out to the start of the final stage in Anakie it drizzled with rain, though this had cleared by the time the stage began. It was pretty exciting following the race in the team van and I was lucky that the combined World team and Power Plate team vehicle was number two in the convoy, thus I had an excellent viewing spot of the day’s action. What with Roz Reekie May in a 3 rider break with a minute and a half back to the bunch then with the steep 2km winding climb up Mount Wallace - so steep that some were forced off their bikes and chose to walk the climb, and then the solo 40km time trial of Kimberly Bruckner. I must admit I think I was more nervous being in the vehicle as I saw the race unfold. And I was nervous with the driving - dodging dropped cyclists, through road works, and so close to other convoy vehicles and police motorbikes. Click here for a full race report on cyclingnews.com. My team mate Miriam Melchers had a great ride finishing 2nd in Stage 3 and 4th overall. And great results from the kiwi’s Roz – 4th in the stage and 7th overall; Susie - 11th in the stage and 14th overall; and Meshy – 17th in the stage and 23rd overall.
Post Tour Recovery
After an easy early morning spin on Wednesday, fellow kiwi, Nadene Boyle and I took the opportunity of heading to Melbourne for a tad of shopping. We met up with my friend Ralph and my parents to refuel with lunch before hitting the factory shops on Smith Street. Where did the time go?? Before we knew it, we were running late for a dinner date with some of my Melbourne relatives. Finally we headed back to Geelong on the train at 9:30pm.
Thursday was a day to get in a decent training ride out to the Surf coast, along Great Ocean road to Anglesea.
Today’s ride was in the same direction, but in cooler weather and a bit of drizzle. It’s forecast to get worse before it gets better and how it will bare up on Sunday for the World Cup is the question we’d all like answered. The 7 km city circuit includes some fairly tight corners which could be interesting in the wet.
Oceania Champs, Eildon, Victoria - Saturday February 22, 2003
I know far too well that one must get a good start to have a good race. And this was not a good start. By the time I got up to speed there were 9 women in front of me. We started along a wide 4WD track that climbed then dipped before heading into the tight single track. It seemed like the brakes went on as we weaved amongst the barren tree’s and winding around the other side I could see Mary and Susy open up a gap. It was impossible to pass so all one could do was sit tight until an opportunity arose to get around the outside. That moment came so I attacked and called on your left – but the Aussie wasn’t going to have a bar of that and doubled her speed to block me. On one of the numerous logs we had to hop I buzzed her back wheel to the delight of the crowd who were yelling “a bit of aargie bargie from the girls” in their broad Aussie accents. Finally I passed her and started to gain momentum. I passed another Aussie then closed the gap on Sadie. The sharp steep climb near the end of the lap killed the legs on the first time around and I couldn’t help but think about the next 3 times up that hill. I passed Sadie and moved into 6th, with another Aussie Nicky Guidex just in sight. Scattered around the circuit there were Kiwis and Aussies providing split times and positions. Mary had opened up a staggering lead within the first lap. During the 2nd and 3rd laps Nicky and I played cat and mouse. I would pass her on the climbs and she would pass me on the descents.
The weather had come to the party and as forecast was about 30 degrees. It was quite a contrast to the previous day. And with numerous sport and recreational riders racing on the course earlier in the morning, the track was in mint condition and not as sketchy as when we first rode it on Wednesday. The race was going to be shorter since we were given 4 laps instead of 5 and with anticipated lap times of 25 minutes, we thought our race would be little over 1 hour 30 minutes.
As the bell rang and I headed into the final lap I was encouraged to give it heaps and that I did. With a split of 20 seconds to Dellys Franke I went on the hunt. Before the hill I caught her and again Nicky was in sight. I came right up on her tail on the climb but didn’t have that extra bit to pass her. I was with her over the top but her downhill skills surpassed me and she left me behind. I finished in 5th place in a time of 1 hour 36 minutes.
Preparation for Oceania Champs, Eildon, Victoria - Friday February 21, 2003
One day to race day and all is quiet at camp.
Most of the team arrived on Tuesday morning, convening at Melbourne airport between 8am and 11am. We required 3 vans and one truck to transport the 25 riders (another 4 to join us later), 5 team management and 27 bikes to Alexandra, a 90 minute drive north east of Melbourne.
Alexandra is a very small township with one main street, a handful of pubs, the usual hardware shop, supermarket, Laundromat, Library, Café, and apparently a very good Op shop. Basically it was a one horse town and not much to see. The accommodation was not much better – very basic with no cooking facilities. Admittedly the hotel staff were very accommodating and provided one BBQ, one barely working microwave, plates and cutlery for 35 people to cook with.
Since most of us began the day at around 4am, it seemed to take forever to get to the Redgate Motel, organise the rooms, assemble the bikes and get to the supermarket. Finally a few of us got on our bikes to spin the legs at about 5pm.
Day two saw a full day of action for the down hillers who were driven 200km north from Alexandra to ride the touted “one of the longest run in the southern hemisphere”. 5 runs, dropping 800m in 9 minutes. There was a wicked rock garden, and some cool wooden jumps. All reports back were excellent. The guys and Scarlett had an awesome day despite the broken bikes.
Meanwhile the cross-country riders were instructed to ride the 26km to Eildon to get a feel for the area and maybe walk part of the course as full access to the course was denied until Thursday. Of course, when we got to the village, the circuit was fully marked and rideable. The course is technical winding amongst barren trees on hard packed dirt. Fully dusty. Some pieces flowed well but on the whole it is very stop start. Many hairpins require a sharp decrease in speed and some gaps between trees just wide enough for a set of handlebars. There is a bit of climbing with one very steep climb, which will be extremely testing in the race. No gnarly drops. The course is one of power and endurance.
4 of us missed the others who headed for home. But lucky us, we got a motor-pace off the van. John just needs to learn how to take the hills though!
Day three: the down hillers walked their course. And the cross-country riders practiced numerous laps of a difficult to remember course. There was a bit of action in the pits - there was testing of tyres and tyre pressures, a replacement valve for Bec’s forks, a little first aiding when Scott and Sam had some high speed crashes, and then Hilton snapped a bar end. It was hot but overcast with a hint of smoke from the forest fires in the air however the forecast was for rain later in the evening. I don’t think anyone truly believed the forecast since it hadn’t rained here since New Years day. Back at camp there was heaps of bike maintenance to keep Brian and Alden busy. And that evening the rain came down.
Day four and it was back to the course in totally different conditions. The down hillers got about 8 runs in on a not so technical, though off camber, slippery and muddy course. But it was about three and a half minutes of fun. The cross-country riders took in a quiet lap again testing tyres and a few different lines in the slippery conditions.
As the rain continues to drizzle, it’s now a time of resting up. Cross Country races are on tomorrow (Saturday) and Downhill on Sunday.