The first weekend in December saw the running of the Alpine Cycling Club's very popular and tough 3 stage race. The "Tour of Bright" has with no doubt become one of the most popular cycling races in Australia, selling out this year in about 30minutes flat online.If you weren't sitting at your computer when entries opened the odds are, you missed out.I've spoken to friends who've raced it 7 times in a row that told me you used to be able to decide 2 weeks before the race if you wanted to compete.
Not any more,the entries are capped at 550 riders across 9 grades.I raced my second Tour in the Masters 4/5 field of 70+ riders, which is about double the size field of the next biggest race I competed in this year.
I've got loads of stuff in there,it was all put to good use too.
Who thought up the idea of these seat post stickers? I made a mess of mine.
Stage 1. The Gaps Loop.
Climbs both Rosewhite Gap,at around 50km,then finished on top of Tawonga Gap for a total distance of 91km.Last year,2011, the pace was faster than I could cope with on Rosewhite Gap and this year I was nervous about what would happen when our group hit the climb.Saturday morning, as we rolled along the Ovens Valley Highway with the customary surging, as riders tried to get off the front and were consequently chased down again.I must admit to be feeling pretty comfortable and how easy the pace was.Enter Rosewhite Gap,bang,the hammer went down as our large peloton of riders splintered to pieces.Watching the strongest riders disappear from view, I found myself in the company of who else but Dr Gav from Wangaratta CC, and many others as we crested the Gap in the next main bunch of riders.This was a better result already than last year and as we flew down the descent our chasing group was growing as we collected more and more riders.Local Cobram legend,Ray Jarratt, was in the group too,Ray has ridden the Bright Tour many times.We probably had between 12 and 20 riders in total and it was quite a task getting the group to cooperate.Half of them need some schooling in the art of Handicap Racing to learn how to work as a group.A few would ride through too hard making the pace impossibly high to keep up with.So after doing a couple of turns on the front you would have to sit on and recover,then they wondered why you weren't helping.
Our group eventually caught the front bunch a few kilometres before the start of the final Tawonga Gap Climb.That was my goal for this stage, to at least start the final climb with the leaders.I hung on to Dr Gav's wheel for most of the climb,it was quite warm and very humid at this point and I was soaked in sweat as we ascended.I lost contact with Dr Gav with about 1.5km left in the stage and just rode the rest of the way as hard as I could.Wangaratta Cycling Club member Matt Clark, overtook me about 300 metres from the finish of the stage.I knew he was about to win the stage in A Grade and I was thrilled for him.He also managed some words of encouragement which lifted my spirits too.
I'd come in in 18th place for my grade which was great and much better than I'd expected.
Stage 2. 15.7km ITT.
There was plenty of time between getting back to Bright around noon and my TT start time of 5.03pm.Recovery drink first then into the icy waters of the Ovens River to cool down and soak the tired legs.Out of the river and some real food,check stage 1 results and change the timing transponder onto the Time Trial bike.Plenty of time for a stretch and rest before starting to warm up around 4pm.Using my stationary trainer outside in the humidity, I'm not sure if I've ever sweated so much in my life.When it came to putting on the skin suit I could hardly get it on.
I've ridden the course for the Time Trial several times in practice and this was really reassuring, knowing the road,where the rises were,where you could rest a little and where to go all out.I managed 23min 58sec which was a little slower than I'd done in practice but still ok.My "Wiggo" style side burns had kept me at 18th on GC after the ITT.
Jo Upton kindly sent me the image below to use in my blog. Please visit her website
where she has been busy editing and uploading photos of this years race.
Image courtesy of Jo Upton Photography.
The recovery in the Ovens River,very important,drinking a Yowie with Howie.
Stage 3 "Mt Hotham Ascent"
Sunday morning saw us race from Bright to the top of Mt Hotham.A distance of 56.5km,I had it in my head it was 52.5km so was far from impressed when my Garmin ticked over 52km and there was still a long way to go,4km at the end of Mt Hotham is a long way, let me assure you.
A small breakaway rode off the front of our group as the race got underway on the outskirts of Bright.I saw Ray Jarratt ride across to it and thought to myself,that's a good move.I decided to stick with the main peloton.We kept a good solid pace along the valley towards Harrietville with a pretty large group hitting the climb together.It kicks up quite sharply right at the beginning and stays that way for the first 500-800m where the gradient eases of to a more comfortable incline.About 20 riders had ridden away on this section and I was trailing them by about 50 metres.Some self urging and digging into the "suitcase" got me back onto their wheels.
Gradually riders found their own pace with some going ahead and others falling behind.Who should I find for company along this section?Dr Gav,my Wangaratta Clubmate,friend and someone I've had countless battles with on the bike over this year.
By about this time we arrived at "The Meg", a nasty little pinch that only lasts about 400metres, but feels incredibly steep.It's all you can do just to propel your bike forwards.Once you get past The Meg it's a few more kilometres before the road levels out to what's known as the false flat section.Here I found myself pretty much alone and put my head down and rode as strongly as I thought was sensible knowing what was to come.The last third of Mt Hotham is the toughest part of the climb.There are a few very steep sections,that when you're fatigued from the effort of the previous days racing,plus already having climbed around 20km.So arriving at the ticket box you know your about to enter "A world of Pain".During this roller coaster section of the mountain, I seemed to be overtaking plenty of riders from other grades but not so many from my own Masters 4/5.In fact,I felt like many Masters 4/5 riders were passing me.I really now wanted to keep my spot in the top 20 on GC, as this meant automatic qualification into next years event.When I finally crossed the finish line,exhausted and relieved, I was pretty concerned that my top 20 may be gone.
Kindly, Howie and his wife Bid had space for me in their car, which meant I didn't have to ride back to Bright.I can't begin to put into words just how good that felt.Also booting up Howies' iPad to check the race results, my GC place was number 20,you bloody beauty.Last year I'd finished 53rd in the same Grade so felt quite happy to have made up 33 places.
Many people are responsible for making "The Tour of Bright" a success and The Alpine Cycling Club and all the volunteers do a wonderful job.They have been always very welcoming and friendly at any event they run.
To finish I'd like to share a couple of paragraphs from an email I received yesterday.This was in response to a message I'd sent to a friend to find out why he hadn't ridden Stage 3.He was riding in my Grade and I was concerned about him when I saw DNF next to his name.
"I was a DNS on stage 3. I was pretty keen to have a crack, woke up Sunday
morning ready to go and happened to see the Cycling Victoria website that
outlined the entry criteria for next year. The fact that the first 20 in
each age group get auto entry next year and that the rest was open to
ballot gave me a clear indication that the event has become more for elite
riders, not riders like me.
That's fine, it should be for elite riders - not riders like me. I just
felt no longer welcome and that I didn't belong anymore. I didn't feel
like riding then and will not participate next year. I will go back to
Audax in January 2013 and focus on training for the Gran Fondo and Southern
Masters club rides. Cycling Victoria has a TT series that I might look into
as well. Maybe I belong somewhere else?"
His response put me in a reflective mood as to why I race my bike and what I want to get out of it.
Should/is "The Tour of Bright" for elite riders only? One of the things that attracted me to it
in the first place was that anybody who had a race licence could line up and have a go.
No doubt with more riders wanting to enter than places available they have no option than to
make changes to the entry system.It will be interesting to see how the race evolves over the next few years.
Below are some photos from the presentations and at the bottom the video highlights package that has been put together.
President of The Alpine Cycling Club and Race Director, Aaron Smith, addressing the crowd at presentations.
Local rider Matt Clark won the A Grade Men's race and surely has a bright future in cycling.
Friends and keen competitors Shane Miller and Stephen Lane finished 1st&2nd in Masters1 respectively.These guys are great supporters of country clubs and races.
After the presentations, the 2 of them were still at it. Shane gets the aero award but the race was a dead heat.
If your looking for something to do on a Monday evening, Alpine Cycling Club
may have your answer. Starting a couple of weeks ago and running through until the Tour of Bright in the first week of December.They're running a TT using the exact same course that is used for the Time Trial in Stage 2 of the Tour of Bright.The first rider starts at 6pm so get there in plenty of time to warm up and let them work out the starting order.
Warming up before the start of a Time Trial is very important.Dont forget all your fast bits.
A few of us went up from the Wangaratta Cycling Club on Monday for a hit out and I must admit I'd forgotten how tough the course is.The first hill after about 1.5 km is just long enough to really hurt as your already going close to maximum pace.I'd forgotten my cycling glasses and kept getting little insects in my eyes which wasn't ideal but a good lesson learnt.The results each week are posted on Alpine's Website here
James Boal from Wangaratta in action on the course.This photo is from last years Monday night Time Trials.
Of course for those into Strava there is a segment for the Bright TT course, which is pretty close to the actual Race Day course.I've included the Strava Segment below.To get on the first page you have to be pretty quick,I'm currently in 42nd place from 183 riders.
I'm very excited to finally launch the 2013 Mt Buffalo Challenge.This is now the second year of the competition,whilst a little late getting started,it promises to be more competitive than last year now there is a prestigious perpetual trophy up for grabs.I'd like to thank everyone who got involved last year and have supported the concept of keeping the competition running annually.The overall winner, with the fastest time last year, was Matt Clark from Beechworth with an exceptionally quick time of 49min 30sec and the fastest female was Amy Bradley coming in at 1h 6m 40s
Mark Newton about 300 metres from "The Gap" ,the end of the climb
The Perpetual trophy for the fastest overall time would be a good edition to anyones Pool Room.
Don't forget to let your Spirit Dance whilst dancing on the Pedals.
Details of the Competition.
The starting point is at the bottom of the mountain near where the little office/gatehouse used to be. See the stone wall on the LHS for another landmark with the Eurobin Creek Picnic area sign on the RHS.Just start your time when your passing through this point and you'll be close enough. It will be based on the time it takes to ride from the starting point (see pic below) to the top of the main climb finishing at The Gap.(finish timing your ride when adjacent to "The Gap" sign), see image below.
Important Statistics. Distance 18.5km, Average Gradient 5.4%, Elevation Gain 1004 metres.
The Starting point at the bottom.
The Finish Point on the top of the main climb.
PLEASE READ THIS PART IN RELATION TO STRAVA.
It's probably better to be stopped or rolling very slowly at the start so as not to get an unfair advantage by hitting the start line at 40 kmh.The Mt Buffalo segment on Strava is around 10 seconds shorter than the manual timed segment I've created for this competition, so you can use Strava to get your time.I will then add 10 seconds to all Strava times.It's been decided to not make this a Strava only competition as many people want to join in who don't use it.It's pretty easy to time it manually on most bike computers or an iPhone.
There are many ways to submit a time for the competition and one way is to contact me via email
. I'm also on Twitter
so feel free to tweet a time in too.The 2012 results sheet can be seen below the current 2013 results for comparison.I will also need the date the ride was completed,your name and racing category or age so that information can be added too.
Feel free to leave some comments below too spice up the competition.
I also think it's fair to the leaders of the competition, that anybody submitting a winning time be able to verify their time either on strava,taking a photo of your bike computer displaying the recorded time or have somebody else that witnessed the ride.
Don't forget to look at the fantastic views whilst riding up.
Shane Miller enjoying the view from the top of Mt Buffalo.
We have a new leader in the Women's Mt Buffalo Challenge with Clare Dallat recording the fastest time we've ever had on the women's side of things 1.00.10. Clare did this time on New Years Day but wouldn't let me post it until now.Coaches orders apparently, so she may be in trouble, but what a fantastic time.I'm sure there is a sub 1 hour time coming from the ladies any time now.
Things have been pretty quiet on the Challenge since the Tour of Bright hangover which seems to occur every year.The competition will run until May so there is plenty of time to get involved or to better your previous effort.
Last weekend Tomarsh Loki competed in the Junior Mountain Climbing Championships at My Buffalo and smashed his previous time by nearly 7 minutes.He is now in 5th place behind some very strong riders.
We also welcome Verita Stewart into the competition.Fresh from her win in the Mt Buller Road Race Women's C Grade. From the time she posted today I think C Grade is a thing of the past.
After winning last year's Mt Buffalo Challenge,2012 Tour of Bright and 2013 Mt Buller Road Race.Matt Clark has once again joined this year's challenge,not only has he submitted a time but it's the fastest time we've ever had in the Challenge's short 2 year history.Matt clocked 48.04 after riding from his home in Beechworth to Mt Buffalo,then riding home again.He has certainly thrown down the gauntlet and must want to keep his hands on the Trophy.You have until the end of May to try and better Matt's time before the competition closes for 2013
Mt Buffalo Challenge leader Matt Clark on his way to winning A Grade in the recent Mt Buller Road Race.
Clare Dallat (on the front) in action during the Women's National Road Race Championships held in Buninyong this year.
Verita Stewart in action (Pink Total Rush Kit) during Mt Buller Road Race.
2013 Mt Buffalo Challenge Results.
2012 Mt Buffalo Challenge Results
Strava is becoming quite popular with cyclists. Using a Garmin device or an iphone with the Stava App running you can record your ride details then upload your ride file to Strava for viewing. Strava will pick out any rides you've done where there has been a segment created and you can compare your ride against others who have ridden the same segment.Most of the major climbs now have a Strava segment,including all our local Alpine Climbs.It's very interesting to compare yourself against other riders and also note your improvement.
I've just created a segment on Strava that includes the climb we do on the Everton to Beechworth Rail Trail every Wednesday.
I started the segment a little past where we enter the rail trail near Diffey Rd to the end of the climb before you start descending into Beechworth. I hope I've set the segment up correctly and I think I have but we can also create another if need be.
Strava then looked through it's Data to see if anyone else has ridden this segment and has found 8 others. Currently I'm in the number 1 position so probably should keep this to myself as once others get on board it wont last long. I've seen a few riders on Wednesday with a Garmin 500 which is what I used and as I mentioned earlier you can use a iphone.So I'm hoping a few others will join Strava which is free unless you want to upgrade to premium membership.
I'v also included Strava's Mt Buffalo Segment to give you more of an idea on how many others are using it.
The Mt Buffalo Segment has been ridden 527 times by people using Strava.
I've also created a segment for the descent out of Beechworth which is always full on. I don't know how long it will last but top spot has my name on it.
Last year the Mt Buffalo Challenge
was started on this website, it has proved to be quite popular in it's inaugural year.I'm still getting the odd time coming in but it's clear the sting is out of the tail.We've had 33 competitors both male and female coming from many different levels. At the moment the leader is Shane Miller with a very impressive time of 51 minutes 39 seconds. I've been wondering what to do about the competition,I will be awarding a very special trophy to the winner, I'm hoping this will be a perpetual trophy for other years too.
I'm after some suggestions before deciding on future of this and other years Challenge.I'll throw out a few ideas and hopefully will get some feedback and suggestions from others.
1. How do we wind up the competition for this year? Late Iast year I had been thinking we may be able to have a handicap ride off using the times submitted by entrants. But I believe this probably is not that feasible and that it would be difficult to arrange and how many people are likely to turn up for the race? Also many people are in their off season and not training much.
Which makes me think the person with the quickest time come March 31st deserves the trophy.I'm thinking about framing one of my TDU photographs for the fastest female.
2.I'd like to run the Challenge again this year (starting after the snow season) and I think Mt Buffalo is the best option.
So if anybody has any suggestions about the current or future Mt Buffalo Challenge please leave a comment at the bottom of this blog.
Wow,I reckon this is an evening not to be missed if you a cycling fan.I'm disappointed that I will miss it but I'm not complaining to hard as tomorrow morning I'm driving to Adelaide for the Tour Down Under. Please read the details below and get in touch with Aaron if your interested in going. I would think places will fill up fast so get in early to avoid disappointment.
Hi all – please pass on to anyone who may be interested
This is a very exciting time in Australian road cycling history. As I’m sure your aware, Australia now has its own pro team GreenEdge http://www.greenedgecycling.com
A very unique opportunity has come to our part of the world. Next week the Tour Down Under is on. Whilst some of the team is racing in Adelaide, some of the rest of the team will be training in the mountains around Bright.
Shayne Bannan is the general manager of GreenEDGE and has also raced against our local hard man Wayne Hildred. Wayne has put us in contact and we’ve been able to organise a night out with the team members that will be here. DETAILS When – Friday the 20th January Time – 6pm sharp Where – Cafe Velo – 2 Ireland St Bright Cost - $50 pay at the door
This is your opportunity to come along and rub shoulders with some of the best riders in the world. This has come about rather quickly, however there is not much time until the night, so I need quick response from you. Numbers are limited & it will be on a first reply gets in. So don’t delay. Email email@example.com with your name, contact number & names of other people coming with you.
As numbers are limited, and we are short of time to create tickets if you say you are coming, I ask that you honour that commitment. More details....
The evening will be a casual affair.
Indian finger food will be provided.
Drinks are available from the bar at your cost. No BYO
Plan is to have a social chat, eat some food, then move into a few talks. Then open the floor to questions. Come with your questions written down so that the MC can direct the evening better. It also prevents us from having 5 people ask the same question 5 ways. So think up some good thoughtful & funny questions.
We hope to raise some money for charity. This may in the form of a raffle for some GreenEdge gear, but is still not finalised yet. Riders coming –
Friday night was registration time.
Wes pins on his race number. No turing back now.
Bikes fitted with race numbers and transponders.
The Tour of Bright one of Australia's biggest and best cycling races was held over the weekend. It was my first attempt at the race after spending the 2010 version photographing the action.There was a large contingent of local riders competing and it felt a little like an extended family as we all checked each others progress on the excellent results website which updated the moment you crossed the line. You can view the results website here.
Stage 1 on Saturday morning saw my group of Masters 4/5 start last at 8.45am and I had been awake for hours raring to go. After deciding to drive out to the base of Tawonga Gap and ride into Bright as a warm up. I figured after the stage I could save myself the 10 km ride into town.For the 90km stage I had some company in my group with Gavin Frawley,Stephen Fields,Ray Jarratt who had all raced the TOB before and Tony Barton who was like me a first timer. The highlight of the stage was flying down the Ovens Valley in a big peloton and feeling like you were almost a pro at speeds up to 50kmh. The lowlight was getting dropped by the main bunch up the Rosewhite climb. That being said I wasn't the only one and forged a small working group of around 8 to ride to the bottom of Tawonga Gap. Just after starting the climb the A grade bunch motored past like we were standing still. I did the climb in around 33 mins and was greeted at the top by several local riders waiting at the finish line.
Stage 2 on Saturday afternoon was a 16km time trial which is 8km out the Wandiligong Rd and the turning around and riding 8km back. My start time was 16.48 precisely. Riders start every 20 seconds and you even get to roll down a proper starting ramp . The out leg is a gradual climb up the valley punctuated by a couple of small hills particularly the first one which takes the wind out of your sails. I had a decent ride and came in just under 26 mins which was a little slower than I'd done the course in practice but after stage 1 in the morning I could live with that.
Stage 3 on Sunday morning was The Queen stage from Bright to the top of Mt Hotham. Due to pretty bad weather on the top third of Mt Hotham the race organisers made the decision to end the race and the end of the false flat near the ticket box about 10km short of the summit. My bunch was still together at Harrietville after all the breaks were kept well under control, but as we rounded the first hairpin the sounds of chains being shifted up cassettes into easier gears for climbing could be heard reverberating throughout the peloton. The first part of the climb is really tough and any disappointment felt from not being able to finish at the top quickly evaporated into relief. After the initial pinch it settles down for quite a while until the Meg which is a real gut buster section albiet quite short but enough to make the legs hurt and the heart rate climb skywards just to maintain forward momentum. After a few more kilometers of 5-6 percent gradient the road levels out to around 2-3 percent for around 10km and in this case the end of the race. It was great to be cheered on at the end by the local riders and their families who had made the journey up to watch the finish of the race.
It's been fantastic to have had support and encouragement from heaps of people. All the local riders who have had to put up with me asking endless questions about racing and gear etc. The health professionals who looked after my injuries when about 2 weeks out from the race I thought I would not be competing. Also the help of all the volunteers that make events like these possible and the Alpine Cycling Club for putting the race on.For the record I finished 53 rd out of about 70 riders in masters 4/5. As I sit here this morning typing my legs are sore and I'm feeling pretty stuffed but I reckon I'll be back again next year.
A few little anecdotes from the weekend.
Watching all the riders sizing each other up on our Friday afternoon ride around Bright.
Having a chat with Bridie O'Donnell at rider registration but at the time not being quite sure it was her.
Meeting Wade Wallace from the CyclingTips website in person after some of my photos from the Bright race last year were used in his race report.
The constant surging of a big peloton and the smell of burning carbon under heavy brakes.
When Wes said "you know when you think you might well be right on the back of the bunch but don't want to turn around and look just in case you are" and knowing exactly what he means.
Ashley Baines screaming out "Reeeeeckmaaaan" as he blasted down Hotham as I struggled up.
Shane Miller the leader of The Mount Buffalo Challenge saying he is not riding up Buffalo again on Monday.
Seeing some of the older guys in your group fly up the hills leaving you in their wake.
Watching Laurie Lyster climb onto the podium several times during presentations.
A classic shot of Wes at the end of stage 3 taken by his wife Kylie.
Bridie O'Donnell nears the end of stage 3
I reckon Larie Lyster on the right would have been exhausted from the number of times he climbed onto the podium at the presentations.