When the organizers tweeted there would be a reconnaissance ride of the course on Saturday it seemed like a nice idea to tag along.A few text messages later and it sounded like a good group would be taking part.I've put my hand up to photograph the road race so would use the recon. to check out possible vantage points.For those needing a refresher on the Sam Miranda weekend of racing and the Gran Fondo I've written a blog about here
A group of 12 gathered at Sam Miranda's cellar door,not for partaking in the produce unfortunately,but to ride the 100km course.It was nice to see Glynn Matthey who had made the trip up from Melbourne to ride the course with us.
Waiting to depart,I reckon that little dog is cocking his leg,or having a natural break as is the cycling terminology.
And this Border Collie is looking for somebody to play with.
I'd ridden about half of the course before,albeit some of it in the opposite direction that the race would go,so was looking forward to the expedition.The first few kilometers are along the Snow Road, before turning left into Kilfeera Road,which is a nice undulating quiet country road.The pace was pretty steady with 5 minute rotating turns on a magnificent winters afternoon with a slight head wind all the way until the Myrrhee (Benalla - Whitfield Rd) turn off.
Rolling along Kilfeera Rd.
Beautiful day,quiet road,if your a cyclist, thats pretty hard to beat.
After turning toward Myrrhee on the Benalla Whitfield Rd you could feel a slight uphill gradient,a false flat,some may call it.Also the wind seemed to be coming right into our faces.There are some good undulations along here and the first KOM point just before Mhyree,although not that long will be tough enough to create some gaps in the field.Not long after the Myrrhee KOM it's time to turn right onto the Benalla Whitfield Rd for the infamous "Strade Nero" which is the dirt road climb included in the road race.Any advantage gained on the previous KOM could be added to here and this climb is long and hard enough to split things up even more.I've previously blogged about the Strade Nero here
so wont go into detail about it again.Everybody on the ride was impressed by the dirt road and was looking forward to racing over it when the time comes.
After the climb,descending down into Whitfield is spectacular,forget the brakes,don't need them here.
We gathered at the Whitty Cafe in Whitfield for a quick coffee.And Howie even had a snack.
We were joined at the Cafe by Gold Medalist,Glenn Clark, who had ridden out on his scooter with there being talk of motorpacing back to Oxley.
I would like to be able to report about all the things I saw on the run from Whitfield to the race finnish, back at Sam Miranda's Winery.But in reality, I pretty much had to concentrate on the back wheel of Tully Lyster's bike as he averaged 43.5kmh for the slightly downhill run down the King Valley.We had been following the scooter briefly but just when I asked about the little roller on the rear guard of the scooter it fell off onto the road.As Glenn pulled over to repair it we just powered on.It was a little under an hour of pretty hard riding and come race day should be a very fast pace.Below is the Strava segment thats been created that includes the whole circuit.It was a nice ride with a great bunch of people who all enjoyed the day.The only incident worth reporting is race directer, Marty Tobin, who had organized the ride had 2 flat tyres before we even got to Myrrhee and had to be rescued by friends.
It seems most people I talk to,myself included, are interested in the condition of the "Strade Nero"(the dirt road climb) that will be used in the upcoming Sam Miranda Road Race.I wrote a blog
about the race last week and decided that today I would go and investigate this infamous piece of road for myself.
After watching my recording of Stage 6 of the Tour de France the frost had started to melt, although I couldn't get any water out of the taps in my house due to the pipes being frozen,I headed off on my journey.The plan was,drive to Mohyu, jump on the bike and ride up Boggy Creek Road,which the Sam Miranda Handicap Race would come down the day after the road race.
That meant I could kill two birds with the one stone as I'm keen to race the handicap on the Sunday myself and this way I could see a section of the course I didn't know.It was a gentle uphill gradient most of the way to Myrrhee so coming back down will be pretty quick in a bunch.Nice quiet country road,I think I saw 2 vehicles in around 16km,perfect.
I would then be able to turn into the Benalla-Whitfield Road at Myrrhee.Within approximately 1km I would be on the dirt section.The gradient at the beginning of the climb is very gentle (big ring country) with the steepest gradients being in the middle of the climb(between 5-10% on my Garmin) and then levelling off a little for the last km or so. The following photographs are taken in series moving up the climb from the beginning to where the dirt finishes at the Junction of the Mansfield-Whitfield Road.I've endeavoured to photograph the road surface in a few locations and in various conditions.I will say there was no trouble riding hard up the climb and most of the time you could choose a fairly smooth path amongst the few potholes and stones.There were some corrugations and rougher sections but it's mostly a hard packed pretty good surface.The conditions were sunny and the road surface dry,I imagine it could get slippery if it happens to rain.The reward after the climb is a fantastic flowing descent down into Whitflied on an excellent road.
And,yes,there is even a Strava segment for the "Dirt Berg" which I've included at the bottom of the post.
Don't forget you can keep up to date with the latest news about the race from the official Sam Miranda Road Race Blog
The transition from sealed road to dirt.
Bridge over BoggyCreek
The middle of the climb is through forest.
Close up of some of the rougher stuff.
Potholes can mostly be easily avoided.
You can mostly find a smooth path to follow.
Towards the top of the climb it opens out a little.
The end of the dirt with the Mansfiled-Whitfield Road Junction ahead
The reward is a fantastic descent down in Whitfield.
Today was my third attempt at this race which runs from Benalla to Wangaratta. The first year I was in the limit bunch and got dropped after 20km,last year I was in second limit and made it through with my group to the finnish and this year I was in the group in front of what is called block and managed to ride with the group pretty well.I ended up losing contact a few kms from home whilst trying to hang on the back of a long line a little after the scratch riders flew past. Considering the quality of riders in that group I guess I shouldn't be too disappointed.
A strong field of riders.The scratch bunch would not be out of place in any NRS event.
This is Frank Loki's take on the race.Thanks Frank for forwarding this to me.
We had 49 starters for todays Ian Bullus Memorial – Benalla Wangaratta Handicap race over 64km (Tomarsh’s SRM) with fantastic NE Vic weather, partly cloudy mid teens temp,
Limit (5 riders) set off just after 10am from Tekkers Rest in Kilferra Rd Benalla.
Other groups were 22 minutes – 9 riders, 16 minutes – 12 riders, 11 minutes - 10 riders, 5 minutes – 8 riders and scratch – 5 riders.
Riders from Melbourne, Albury Wodonga CC, Lavington CC,Mt Buller Mansfield, Cobram were in the race (hope I haven’t missed any).
The race goes via Lurg, Greta, Glenrowan and on to the Wangaratta CC club rooms in Shanley St.
All groups stayed in their respective groups until the left turn from Greta to Glenrowan, although the gaps started to diminish.
At the right turn in Glenrowan into the old highway, limit riders were still 3 minutes ahead of the next group, who were only a bit over a minute ahead of the 16 min group. Scratch were 8 minutes from the lead at this stage and most riders in that group felt that they had, probably, too much work ahead of them, with such a short distance, about 15km to go.
Along Warby Rang Rd, with less than 5km to go the 16 minute and 22 minute groups got together and were fast closing on limit, who were engulfed along Shanley St making for a bunch sprint.
Ian Strang (Wang CC) prevailed over Ryan Allen (AWCC), Tomarsh Loki (Wang CC) Damian Christian (AWCC), Cullum Dwyer (AWCC) and Rob Greenaway (Mt Buller Mansfield CC).
Best over 55yo went Dave Wohlers.
Winning time was 1:46:37, 2nd & 3rd 1:40:37 and fastest time going to Matt Clark (Wang CC) 1:27:03,
Big mention to Maurs & Suellen for BBQ, ambience and refreshments for riders & spectators.
Start line images with my iphone
Ian Strang with overall winner's and first Wangaratta Club Member's trophies
There is no stopping Matt Clark at the moment.He had the fastest time today.
The ladies looked after us very well with some sausages,onions and coleslaw in bread.
Below is a Strava segment I created for today's race. I cut a little off the start and finnish of the race, just to make sure the start was a little after the official start, so there wouldn't be any mistakes with others times and for the future in case we don't quite start in the exact same place.
On Sunday I decided to head down to Warragul for the "Baw Baw Classic", which incorporates Victoria's Mountain Climbers Championships.The race is run by the Warragul Cycling Club
over a tough undulating 103km course starting in Warragul and finishing on top of Mt Baw Baw,which in itself is a reasonable challenge,the final 6km averages at a 13% gradient and peaks at 21%.As I was already in Melbourne, having driven down Saturday, and there were two local riders,Matt Clark and James Boal competing in A Grade, it was the perfect opportunity to check out this prestigious event.The A Grade honour roll includes names such as David McKenzie,Simon Gerrans and Simon Clarke to name a few.
Every Wednesday there is a bunch ride from Wangaratta,leaving "Espresso on Ovens" @ 7.30am,to Beechworth and return.After a coffee in Beechworth of course. I try to join in most weeks, and now there is a Strava segment for the section of rail trail we travel up,there is the added incentive to improve your time.It was particularly pleasing to see Pete Goodman this morning who has been threatening to make an appearance for some time. Tully Lyster, and his father Laurie, showed their pedigree on the decent out of Beechworth, leaving us gasping in their wake.
The Sun is still pretty low in the sky at 7.30am
Very nice to see Bernie Grealy back on the bike.
Heading back towards Wangaratta
Laurie Lyster looking sharp in the GreenEdge kit. West End Bike Hub kits are also prominent in the bunch.
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.