Saturday, September 29, 2012
...and the survey says "Wow, that's steep!" was the most popular comment afterseeing the track are the Darebin International Sports Centre. I mean we've all seen track racing on television at the Olympics, or even on Cycling Central on a Sunday, but we certainly weren't prepared for the reality that hit us.
Forty-two degree banks at either end left those who gathered gasping and questioning the laws of physics as they contemplated riding atop of those very banks at some stage this evening. Fear was building.
A collection of Melbourne's finest individuals joined forces to help LAID Cycling regular, Mark Maiolo, raise funds for the Ride to Conquer Cancer. A worthwhile cause indeed with the added benefit of a lot of fun ahead.
Supercoach, Daryl from Cycling Victoria arrived albeit a tick late and he's early words weren't inspiring. If you stop pedalling; you'll get hurt. If you dont keep straight on the bank; you'll get hurt. He kept going and the palms grew sweaty with anxiety."I thought this was meant to be fun and safe" I heard one cyclist whisper.
Housekeeping done, and we all reached for the bikes they'd supplied us; Hillbrick Pista's which were great. Fifteen of us moved cautiously around the track slowly building confidence. A few braved souls took straight to the banks with Igor, Big Tim and Curtis looking right at home at the dizzying heights. The others were a little more conservative at first, but all eventually conquered the beast.
A one lap time trail from the starting gate was kicked off by event organiser Mark; posting a time of 25.94 seconds. The excitement of launching out of the gate was enough to make everyone feel the Olympian inside. Igor was the early leader with a time 24.07 until Curtis took off. Flying around the 250 metre circuit Curtis forgot to keep his head up coming to the line. He clipped the witches hats and went spinning and sliding across the floor leaving his mark and skin on the track. Amazingly though he took the fastest time at 23:38.
Not to be out done, two riders later Chito decided to end the fun for everyone. Once again riding with his head down Chito hit the starting gate as he approached the line taking out the gas bottle, but amazingly staying upright. The gate ruined, the remaining riders had to do it the old fashioned way - Daryl holding them up.
The two fastest riders were saved for last with the quiet and subdued Jake smashing out a lap of power defying his slight build, posting 22.58. Fast, but the hulking Tim put the power down hurting the Hillbrick as he screamed to a 21.89, taking the chocolates.
Next on the menu was the flying lap. A two lap 'warm up' to get to speed before unleashing all sorts of hurt on the last lap to record a time. Lap one was fine, but by lap two my legs were in lactic overload and by lap three they were crying along with my lungs and heart. I was not alone; everyone was feeling it this late in the session. Three riders stood out with sub 18 second times; Curtis, Igor and Tim with Tim once again taking the chocolates with 17.17 seconds. A very dominant performance.
The rest of the session was a free ride and a chance try new things as well as wind down the muscles. I, like others were on a high as the come try session came to an end.. I suggest if you get the chance to give it a go. Check the website for timetables: www.viv.cycling.org.au
It was a great evening and importantly Mark raised some funds for the ride. The results are at the bottom of the photos. A big thanks for Amy Maiolo sacrificing her ride to capture some of the moments. See you at the track as a few of us have decided to take it up.
Monday, September 17, 2012
Come on, don't deny it - we've all done it before: playing the "my bike is better than your bike" game at the start line of an event, eyeing off the calibre of contenders. Today I resoundly lost this challenge as the quality of machines were reaching stratospheric levels. Carbon bling everywhere!
The event was the 2012 Amy's Gran Fondo, organised by the Amy Gillett Foundation to raise road safety awareness for cyclists around Australia. It's a 120km course starting in Lorne, heading west along the Great Ocean Road and back via the Otway Ranges from Skenes Creek to Deans Marsh. All on closed roads with no traffic - it's an unmissable event. It's also a feeder event for top finishers into the 2013 UCI World Cycling Tour. Hence the bling bikes, deep dish wheels and race-ready riders everywhere!
Being surrounded by 4,000 eager riders raised the excitement levels, and we were all chomping at the bit to get underway. Waves of 200 riders departed at 90 second intervals and in no time we were clipping in, heading off for 120 kilometres of amazing roads. The first 1.5km were considered "neutral" before the official timing began. The pace was still hectic as we found our legs and began forming groups of similar capacity.
We departed the canopy of trees and began our traverse of the Great Ocean Road, a stunning stretch of roadway winding along the rugged southern ocean coastline. For a while we had company in the form of a helicopter hovering over the ocean at eye level, it really felt like we were in a stage of the Tour de France!
The first 38km were chewed up in good time and then the challenges began. No opportunity to sit on someone's wheel and stay out of the wind as we trundled up Skenes Creek Road at whatever pace we could muster. This was a 9.5km grind at around 6% all the way up. I was aiming for a sub-38 minute time, with a 35 minute marker as my ultimate goal. To have crossed the top of the climb at under 34 minutes was adequate vindication for all the work I've been doing lately, and brought a welcome sense of relief.
The next 50km of undulating roads were simply blissful. We managed to form a decent group of about 15 riders who all worked together to keep the pace at a fast simmer, rather than tempestuous boil. A few more energy gels later, we reached the base of the final ascent to Deans Marsh and we were all back into every-man-for-themselves mode.
I had previously ridden this section of road, and as such I knew that there were occasional moments of reprieve along the final 7 kilometres. The legs felt quite good after 100km of non-stop riding and I attempted to leave nothing behind. In no time I'd reached the top of the climb and the glorious finish marker, to which my left hamstring decided to celebrate with a massive cramp!
As I was stretching out the muscle, Matt of Climbing Cyclist fame called out so I stopped to exchange war stories and see how he went - obviously with all of his efforts lately he made it look easy, and his times reflected these efforts. Good to see he was repping the LAID Cycling kit too!
The final neutral descent back to Lorne was blissful, and so was the hamburger which was devoured in record time - those guys in Lorne know how to put together a decent feed!
A few minutes after getting back to town, my official times were posted via the Subaru tracker iPhone app, and to see the clock stopped 3hr30 was a huge surprise. I'd beaten my target time by 30 minutes and finished well within the top 25% of all finishers. Unfortunately I just missed out on making the top 25% in my age group so there's no commemorative medal for this year - that'll be next year's goal.
Many thanks to all of the organisers and volunteers for the day - they created a wonderful atmosphere and the logistics to close 120km of roadways would have been immense. I hope the work they've put in is returned to them tenfold, and that Australian roadways are made safer for all users as a result of their efforts.
Here's a bit of footage from my handlebar camera, before the batteries went flat http://youtube.com/watch?v=Yg5KlmeEBJs