I've just added a gallery of images taken at Wangaratta Cycling Club's Ian Bullus Memorial Handicap. Click HERE to view Gallery.
Fresh of the press is a Winter series of races that offer a little of everything.See below for all the details.
The highlights are;
· Myrrhee Road race as a lead in to Sam Miranda ( 2 Weeks out ). It is a Sunday morning race.
· TT up Mt Stanley. This will incorporate a social day at Beechworth Brewery. Race is sponsored by Beechworth
Brewery and will include a social ride to the bottom through Myrtleford.
· Ladies come and try day a few weeks prior to the start of Spring series
· All welcome try day and Cycling Swap meet 2 weeks prior to the start of the Spring Series
· Minimum of 2 ITT on state course in the lead up to Victorian Junior State Champs and Wangaratta ITT that is part of
the Cycling Victoria ITT Series.
All races are subject to weather conditions and rider numbers. Any cancellations due to weather will be posted on Wangaratta CC Facebook & Twitter @WangarattaCC by 11.00am on the day.
Men's A Grade Podium
Extended Women's Podium
B Grade Men's Podium
C Grade Men's Podium
D Grade Men's Podium
A strong field of 24 riders competed at Wangaratta yesterday and I was a corner marshall and also managed to sneak in a few photos.The Limit bunch were to strong on the day with the first 5 places going to that group. Peter Gottschling getting the win and Matt Clark (scratch) taking out fastest time.
Just released is the Wangaratta Cycling Club Autumn Series of Races.It looks excellent with a little bit of everything.Graded Scratch Races,a couple of big Handicap events and some ITT's.Not forgetting the excellent Club Tour on the first weekend of June.Come and join us for some hard racing with friendly competitors on quiet country roads.More details via Wangaratta Cycling Club's website.
I've been resisting writing anything about the Lance Armstrong saga,but on my recent training rides I can't get the story out of my head.So as an attempt to exorcise the demon from my head, I'm going to have my 2 bobs worth.
Many years ago I was heading to Tasmania for a couple of weeks, I'd be staying on my sister's fairly isolated farm in the Liffey Valley.I found myself in a book store in Melbourne looking for something to take with me to read.Picking up "It's Not About the Bike" I can remember thinking,"I've heard of this bloke,survived a pretty nasty dose of cancer and has won the Tour de France".At the time I had no interest in cycling as a sport, had only ever heard of the Tour de France,The Giro and our own Herald Sun Tour.
The book was an excellent read and I couldn't put it down,staying up till all hours and had it finished in a couple of days,bugger,what am I going to read for the rest of my stay.
So when the TDF rolled around that year it was time to tune in and see how Lance was going,I don't exactly remember the year but he's already won the race a few times.Reading this book got me interested in watching the TDF,before I would have changed channels to avoid it. L.A. owned the TDF,or thats the way it seemed to me.He had this awesome team who completely dominated proceedings.I cheered for Lance to win and thats what he did.I watched the TDF every year after that and was really disappointed when he retired.
Fast forward on a few years, after becoming frustrated with golf one of my friends suggested cycling. My first outing was quite memorable,it was hot and I was in Melbourne and we'd gone to the Kew Boulevard early in the morning.My bike was an old Malvern Star purchased brand new in the mid 80's.I was hopeless,getting passed on the hills by everyone.I smashed myself but went nowhere fast and had to lie down for about 2 hours afterward as I wasn't feeling very well.
That first experience seemed to spur me on and I've been riding now for about 4 years.The last 2 pinning a race number on quite regularly with the Wangaratta Cycling Club and the Hume Veterans CC.The more I started to mix with other cyclists,some who've been involved in the sport for many many years,I started to hear the doping stories about LA.What I also noticed was some people particularly seemed to really dislike Armstrong, whilst others worshipped him.I was probably in the camp of worshipper until about 12 months ago.Slowly more and more doping allegations against LA were surfacing and I couldn't help but think,maybe there is more to this than meets the eye.
Further on down the track and I'm not going into the whole series of events,most people know this stuff anyway.The USADA reasoned decision pretty much was the final nail in the coffin of the LA fairy tail.
Now we've had the Oprah interview and heard it from the man himself that he cheated in every one of his TDF victories,using performance enhancing drugs,transfusions etc.
The fact that he used banned drugs and transfusions is somehow not that big of a deal as it seems most TDF contenders were also doing the same thing.Of course I believe it's wrong and I'm very disappointed that I believed in something that turned out to be bull shit.And I probably feel quite foolish as in the past I'd backed Lance 100%.
The worse part is the way he treated the people who were bold enough to speak out.Even suing newspapers and ruining peoples lives when all along they were telling the truth.It's hard to reconcile this in my mind as here is a man who survived cancer (my sister in Tasmania is a Doctor and when I read to her how bad he had cancer,her comments were "it's a miracle he survived") and set up the Livestrong foundation helping raise awareness of cancer on a global scale.So it seems he has empathy for his fellow human beings so how could he be such an arsehole?
I'm not sure if I'd be riding my bike it it wasn't for Lance,nobody can answer that,not even me.My curiosity in the sport was certainly piqued by the reading of "It's not about the Bike".Maybe if golf hadn't been so frustrating I'd still be out there smashing that little white ball up the fairway (or in my case usually in the rough).My friends may have had more to do with actually getting me involved in riding and racing.I've done several things I swore black and blue I'd never do.Wearing Lycra,buying the latest carbon bling and last but not least shaving my legs,(when I read that I still wonder how it's come to this) :)
By nature I'm a pretty forgiving person and I also am a believer in what is good about the human spirit.Everyone on earth deserves the opportunity to redeem themselves from past wrongdoings.For me I still think of Armstrong as an amazing cyclist and I'm not sure about his 7 TDF victories,mainly because they didn't or couldn't award then to anybody else as most of the contenders appeared to have been doping also.
History will tell us how he'll be remembered.He made some big claims that the rest of his life will be spent trying to repair the damage he has done to the sport and the many people that got in his way.There is no doubt he is a powerful character and should he choose to embrace his own sentiments then hopefully we'll see some good come out of this tale of deception.
For me now when I roll out in the morning on a 3 hour solo ride in quiet Australian countryside I'm hoping there are better things occupying my thoughts than this sorry tale.I love to ride and would be lost without it now.I love the sport and want to believe in the current crop of amazing athletes.Past dopers should be encouraged to speak out not kicked out of the sport.Let them help by giving them the chance to own their past and not be fearful about losing what they love.
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.
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.
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.
A BBQ was a fitting way to wind up the Wangaratta Cycling Club's spring series of races.A couple of beers and some snags and burgers went down a treat after a hard fought series of races.Generous prize money was donated by McDonald O'Brien with $500 going to the overall winner, Seamus Lane with 25 points.John Kent from Alpine Cycling Club was 2nd and made the races very hard always attacking.Myself and Dr Gav were tied on points for 3rd but Gav had more wins than me so got 3rd on a count back.5th went to Michal Trnka from Mt Beauty in his first year of racing.
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.
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
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.