OK...race report as promised...be warned, it's long!
What a fantastic week!
Beautiful weather...except for the wind and a little rain on Wed, but hey, we're from Melb, we've seen a bit of that
Arrived in Sydney on Monday morning and headed directly out to Olympic Park to register and pick up event info pack. Having heard about the queues, I was bracing myself for a long wait, but it turned out not to be. Opting to not have a pic on my competitor pass meant that I was waved straight through registration.
Stayed at "The Y" on Hyde Park....right at the top of Oxford St so plenty of eating options and heaps of local colour which made it feel a lot like home. Discovering Betty's Soup Kitchen was a god send...hearty homestyle soups, pasta & pies with a salad bar filled with fresh cut veg that could be put together to form any salad you liked. Soooo cheap!
My bike prep for the TT had been a bit rushed. Having had bike and tt bars written off in Feb, and not having raced any tt's since then, I'd purchased the same clip ons and had planned to use them...until chatting to lbs mechanic a couple of days prior to heading off and he gave me that alarmed look with the dreaded pregnant pause....I now had full carbon handle bars and they weren't aerobar compatible!
...so what to do? Big $$ to get compatible carbon ergo bars, and virtually no time to order them in and make the changes, cheap alloy bars in completely different profile to what all my training had been on or just go with the existing drop bars.
Monday am in Sydney spent the morning ringing around bike shops to see who could help out and Bike Bar in Bondi Junction came to the rescue...they were pretty sure they had some in stock. Late Monday afternoon was a quick rush down to the shop and Luke, the AIS trackie working in there did the swap while I waited...thanks Luke
Tues am headed out to Dunc Gray Velodrome to catch up with a few other Melb folk including Parawolf and Mrs P and have a roll around the crit circuit prior to racing on Wed (as well as my first practice on aerobars since Aus Masters Games in Feb
). Arrived in time to watch Mrs P's scratch race, and then stayed to see Tim from SKCC collect gold in his race (3 for the games...Go Tim!!
Crit circuit is a dedicated 800m loop next door to the velo. It starts with a short descent to 2 LH 90deg turns in quick succession, then a series of uphill wiggles followed by a LH into the finish straight. Positioning was going to be interesting!
Race day started off looking pretty miserable, windy with showers on and off for the morning. There was some talk of delaying the start of the afternoon session, but the rain cleared just in time and the W5&6 girls set off. Pip (SKCC) and one of the W6 girls made an early break and stayed away to both take gold. Genevieve (SKCC) came in 6th. By 4.15, the W3 start time, rain had cleared and the circuit was dry, but the wind was still there.
16 registered starters for our race, with one or two DNS on the day. In an event like this there will always be a huge range of experience and our race was no exception...google stalking the start list showed up 3 ex pros, an AIS track sprinter, and some girls with really solid looking road & track records
At the other end of the field were a small number for whom WMG was their first ever event and talking to them afterwards (huge kudos for giving it a go!), I think they're all hooked!
It was quickly apparent that there were a few nervous cornerers...I had a moment of alarm with a tangle of bars on the last corner on one of the early laps. I was on the inside and someone moved over just a bit too much...with a drop off at the edge of the bitumen, I wasn't going anywhere and I think she got the bigger fright! Fairly uneventful race with a couple of people having half hearted digs off the front, but the bunch quickly shutting them down. It was pretty apparent it was going to come down to a bunch sprint. Thought I was well positioned, coming up the inside to the final corner when the girl in front lost her nerve as the riders on the outside got close and slammed on her brakes...ah well, dig deep in the final straight, but having lost so much distance and momentum wasn't ever going to get there and finished what I thought was 6th, but official results tell me 7. Never mind, it wasn't for lack of fitness...done by the experience and the all important position, position, position! Just very glad to finish with the bunch.
Thursday was men's TT day so headed out to the Eastern Creek circuit as cheer squad for Adam (SKCC), David (CCCC & Cycle Inform), Parawolf and AK. There was a lot of confusion about training access to the TT circuit prior to racing with 3 different messages being given by 3 different officials. In the end all the guys except AK just went for a reco ride...very technical circuit round raceway, carpark and dragstrip with I think 9 corners, wind, lots of witches hats and bollards, and almost impossible to do a half decent time without having seen it first!
Friday morning was TT day for me. My start time wasn't until just after 10.00, but competition started at 8 so it meant an early start to get out there with enought time to fit in that essential familiarisation circuit. Managed 1.5 laps of the 19km route before it was declared a sterile area and we were all pulled off. Time now to set up the trainer, focus, eat and continue the warm up. The boys had claimed one of the pit lane buildings right near the start gate as a little Melb encampment on Wed so we all gathered back there - With Men's road racing starting in the afternoon, most of the Melb contingent was racing at some stage during the day so it was fantastic to have everyone around for support, tech assistance, gophers etc.
Aaggh, first one off in my category! 3 min gap to the last of the previous age group...I'm the rabbit that they'll all be after!
Into the start gate...5...4...3...2...1...S%#t 39-23...not the best of starts
Ah well head down, up the hill and can only do what I can do. The wind was brutal and there are a few very unprotected parts of the circuit. One nasty corner was slightly off camber, divided by cones to make it 2way and at the bottom of the return descent. Just as I reached it, on the aerobars, about to make the RH sweep across the apex, the rider coming down the other way overcooked and washed out crashing through the cones directly into my line
F$%$! HR spike, major deviation, off the road, into the gravel and thought I'd gone too. Don't know how I stayed upright! Virtual standing start for the second time in this TT...thinking "that's it...game over
" Ah well, I'm here, lets see what time I finish with...
Battled the wind for the rest of the race and was so glad to see the finish line come into sight. Then had to wait for the next rider...and wait...and wait...about 3 min later a group of them came in in quick succession.
No idea what my time was because the line was a blur and pushing the lap button, or checking the time was the last thing on my mind. Had to wait for the commentator (who did a brilliant job and really added to the atmosphere) to announce results about 35 min later. Starting with 6th place he proceeded to read them off...5th...4th...3rd...Alison.
Think it took me about 1/2 an hr to stop shaking with shock and excitement. Thanks for the loan of the wheels Adam!
Sat, it was back out to Eastern Creek for road race. 51 km on the same course as the tt so 5.5 laps. Fairly uneventful race with a few people having little digs, but again the bunch shutting them down. I had one go and got a bit of a break, but no one came with me and it was a bit too early to battle the wind on my own so sat up and waited. Another incident on "that" corner...the girl next to me goes down in the same way as TT...washout...
...somehow rode over the edge of her wheel and copped wheel or pedal, or leg across my left shin. Fortunately no one else came down and while a DNF, she got through with little more than lost bark and bruises.
Slight climb up around the corner of the raceway to the 1km to go mark on each lap with downhill into the wind for the finish straight...2 laps to go, the wind had come round a little...and there was some protection on the straight
. Bell lap and there was plenty of jostling for position around the tighter parts of the circuit, but not too much of an issue given the width of the raceway which would be our final 4 kms. Up the hill for the final time, watching the NZ pair who had obviously discussed sprint tactics...500m to go and someone goes way early...bunch responds, another attack on the right from ex AIS trackie Felicity Williamson. People grabbing her wheel block in NZ sprinter and all of a sudden with 300m to go, I'm left with a gap down the middle of the road, wind protection on my left, a lovely down hill run to the finish line and another silver
Great week for SKCC with medal tally of at least 5 gold and 3 silver (there were a couple of other people there, but don't know their results). Tim Farley is the standout with 3 track gold. Pip Read is amazing with a collection of gold from Canberra and then backed up with 2 gold + silver from Sydney.
Big thankyou to all the Melb folk who were up there; Para & Mrs P, AK, Pip, Fran, Genevieve, Adam, Tim, Jodie, David. The friendship, support and assistance from everyone made the week! It was also absolutely fantastic to have an opportunity to compete with a bunch of like aged women...highly recommended if you get the chance!
What's next....believe there might be racing in Ballarat next year....now where to find aerohelmet, skinsuit, shoe covers, wheels, bike sponsor...?