Monday, July 25, 2011

Weekend Warriors

Big weekend of racing for TDR. Northern Combine kermesse at Campbellfield on the Saturday, followed by an assault (filling in for missing bodies) in the Brunswick Elite Mens team time trial squad.

NC Kermesse: C-grade

TDR raced on Saturday with a limited complement due to reduced numbers suffering Tour de France hangovers. The usual hard nuts dragged themselves out of bed and headed up to Campbellfield for the combine kermesse.

The race started very fast with an attack going from the roll out. A three man break initiated by Glynn Matthey had everyone scrambling for wheels. The break overtook the A grade bunch who were still warming up and pulled away. A-grade quickly shot into gear and overtook the small break, handing down a bit of a verbal spray, ensuring they got back past before the commissaires saw and prevented them from re-passing as per the rulebook.

As the pace settled in, numerous attacks went off the front. Nick Smith, Robert Merkel and Michael Sparke were amongst the action throughout the race. Duggan, feeling pretty good, was involved in several unsuccessful moves and chased down his fair share also. Late in the race Duggan attacked up the back straight and managed to gap the peloton for about 1.5 laps before being chased down. Today was going to be a day for the sprinters.

In the final stages of the race, the pace dropped with no one wanting to contribute to the pace making. Duggan took the responsibility, and set the pace for the peloton for the last 5 or so laps. Attempts were made in vain to get others near the front to work, but the task was left to Merkel and Duggan primarily.

Last time up and over the climb at the top of the circuit, Tim Feltham came through smashing what seemed like 53:11 with a very strong attack that Duggan felt he had to respond to. Rounding Feltham up about 10 m before the line, Duggan was overtaken and beaten by a length by Dustin Adderly, narrowly edging out the fast finishing Merkel for 2nd. Feltham with a strong finish in 4th.

Considering the involvement and work done in the race... stoked.

Vic Club TTT Champs: Elite Men

TDR lads headed out to Buninyong to race in BCC's Elite TTT squad due to unavailability of other riders. The boys had worked through a perfect one week preparation, tapering nicely before the race, and had high ambitions and taking home the gold.

The course was an undulating 50km out-and-back race with a tailwind on the way out, and a severe block-headwind on the way home.

Clip the bars on... Warm up for 10 mins.... Smash a gel... Roll out...

50 km/h. Perhaps we should ease up? Nah. She'll be right!

10 km in at near 50 km/h, Duggan dips into the red trying to hold the boys wheels up what seemed like one of innumerable short but sharp climbs. *POP* Out the back. D'Alfonso starts to drop back to pace Duggan back on, but realising they'll probably ride a faster time without him, Duggan signals them to go on.

The boys take off... 40 km ITT for Duggan...

At the turn around Duggan gives the lads a cheer of encouragement, realising he's only fallen about 1 km behind over the last 15 km. But rounding the turn, the headwind is brutal and there's no chance of getting back on.

D'Alfonso, Jeremy Soawyer and Brunswick TT animal Matt Lewis continued on with a super strong ride, easily beating the time set by the bronze medal team of the Elite Women.

Chapeau boys. The weeks preparation paid off!  

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Long time between drinks...

TDR at BCC Tuesday track. The lads have been off the bike with work/weather/softness. Definite taste vomit in the mouth during points race. Good night's racing with good crew.

Duggan (B): 3rd Scratch/3rd Motorpace

Team Time Trial on Sunday following the Northern Combine kermesse on Saturday. Big weekend. Hope the weather is ok. 50km on the rivet in the TTT is not going to be fun in the pouring rain.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

From France, with love...

TDR sent a lone rider to face the challenges of l'Etape du Tour this year. Here's Watson's account of what went down:

"As some of you may know, I am currently lucky enough to be riding around France and following the tour. On Monday I completed the Etape du Tour, a sportif organised by the ASO that replicates one of the stages of the current Tour De France. I thought now was as good a time as any to do a ride report while it is fresh in my mind.

This year there are actually 2 etapes, I did the first one, being the same as stage 19 of the tour (Modane to Alpe d'Huez), comprising 2 hors categorie climbs and one category 1 climb. As the stage is under 120km, distance was never going to be a problem, climbing was the issue; when you take out the 65km of descending, you are left with about 3.5km of vertical ascent over only 45km. A big day for anyone. Even Adrian or Jeremy.

The first thing that I noticed about the ride was that there was a great atmosphere, all the towns have their party dresses on for the tour and all the locals were out yelling encouragement, a nice change to the yells you get from the people at home when you ride past. Cowbells, water bottles, people running along, it was all amazing.

After the grand depart there is only 15km of a slight downhill before the first climb, the Col du Telegraphe, a Cat 1 climb described as a 'warm up' for the day. 2 days earlier I had to ride it to register for the etape, and partly due to the lack of food and partly due to it being the first ride I had done in France, I was chewing nails. Luckily on the day I felt great, and despite starting near the back of the field, over the 12km I pounced over 2000 people, despite telling myself that I would take it easy on the first climb. I think with the tour this climb won't see much action, except from those after the polka dots, because the later sections of the stage will neutralise any advantage gained.

While the telegraphe and the galibier are technically separate climbs, given they are only separated by 5km of descent it is accurate to treat them as one LONG climb (about 30km together). Riding through Valloire (where I am currently staying) at the base of the galibier was enough to give me hope for the massive col. My gf, along with the people I am staying with, and the rest of the town were out in force. It is amazing what cheering masses does for one's adrenaline. I hit the galibier feeling great, and continued my good form on the hills, overtaking over 1500 on the Galibier. As climbs go, this was definitely the toughest I had ever done, 15km (more if you include the climb out of valloire) at 7 percent. Unlike the Telegraphe, which starts hard, the Galibier takes a few km to kick up, so the last 7km have you gritting hard. Luckily I was hooped up on cliff bars and reading the paint on the mountain from previous tours to get too far into the red, and I summitted feeling pretty good.

The next 50km were almost all downhill, on the most dangerous descent I have seen. The pros will fly here. In fact, the descent will be really handy for Cadel and other GC riders who may loose schleck/contador on the galibier but can descend like the wind. Expect to see even pegging at the base of Alpe d'Huez is my 2 cents. While I could have probably cut 30 minutes or more off my overall time by attacking the descent, I had promised the gf that I would be careful, and there were enough numpties chopping wheels for me to think that it was not worth the risk. Unsurprisingly there were approx 3 serious accidents on the descents so I am glad I took it easy.

I arrived at the base of Alpe d'Huez at about 11.30 and it was HOT, which was made worse by the fact that the alpe is in direct sunlight with little to no shade. I started the climb in about 5000th position (I started at (6500) after letting lots that I passed on the previous climbs go past me on the descent. It was a real joy being able to ride Alpe d'Huez without any cars and with so many people cheering you on. There were people playing music on the switchbacks, old french men pushing women uphill, people pouring water over the riders and lots of support, it really helped everyone get through the climb. For the whole ride I stayed under 85 percent max heart rate and my only concern on dHuez was my left hammy tightening up, I could feel the cramp not far away. For me this was the hardest climb of the day, about 15km where the garmin rarely dipped under 10 percent. The one saving grace was that I knew that the start was the worst and once the first 3km were over, the really steep stuff was out of the way and I could find a good cadence and ground my way on. After 7km my left foot was starting to go numb and my leg was tightening up a lot, but I resisted the temptation to stop until the water refill point, last thing I needed was my legs tightening up off the bike. I filled my bidons, pourted some cold water down my back and got back on for the best 7km I have had on a bike. Once I got moving I saw that I was still passing people (I overtook 2000 people on Alpe d'Huez and finished at about 3300, up 3200 places) and looked up and saw the church on the top of the mountain and knew that I would be okay.

As soon as I saw the 2km to go point I put it in the big ring and had at it. I have never had such a surge of adrenaline finishing a ride, not even while racing, there were literally thousands of people shouting, and I sprinted through the finish line with a cheesy grin.

If my experience is anything to go by, the last 2km will be great to watch when the pros hit the mountain, it levels off a little bit so there could be a good old uphill sprint, if Evans or Contador are in the mix expect them to do well.

If anyone is coming to France to watch the tour in the future I cannot recommend doing the etape enough; it is well organised, the people are friendly, there are crouds of people yelling and you get to ride on closed roads in some of the most beautiful places in the world."

Love your work Will!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Not last...

That pretty much sums up Duggan's A-grade baptism at BCC track racing last night. Promoted due to large B-grade numbers, Duggan spent the night eating bar tape and getting pushed around. Nothing like being the small fish in the big pond again. Good fun.


Monday, July 4, 2011

Rolling With Randonneurs...

TDR's own randonneur, Rando Mat, has a new whip which is worth a quick look.

1950's Two Star Malvern Star hand painted and pin striped by the famous Bates shop. Cheap wheels and girl bars make it sweet for a fixed Sunday roll.

Rando Mat and the other TDR boys have been building up the kilometres recently, preparing for a 3 day tarmac and gravel epic at the end of the month. Oppy would be proud.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Race Report - John Sewell Handicap

TDR lads headed out to Balliang to compete in the Brunswick Cycling Club's John Sewell memorial handicap. 77 km of undulating open terrain. One short steep climb. Brutal cross-winds. 3 laps and 3 kms of gravel each lap adding to the difficulty.

D'Alfonso and Duggan were off 9 minutes, chasing limit off 28 minutes. A scratch group depleted of a number of heavy hitters who were away for Scotty's Race at Shepparton meant that there was a good chance that one of the other groups might stay away and pinch the win. 

The 9 minute group worked well together for the first two laps and chased down a number of groups in front. Swallowed up and thrown in the gutter by the 6 minute group at the start of the third lap, D'Alfonso and Duggan ate their bars and held on. The now large group swallowed up all but two riders who were still off the front at the lead of the race with half a lap to go. 

The last ascent of the hill sorted out the stronger riders from those just hanging on, and the next 10 km of crosswinds cemented the split. Duggan had managed to make the split and helped throw in some big turns to chase the final two. The leading riders were rounded up on the gravel section after staying away for the majority of the race, and then cat and mouse antics began. Lots of chat. Lots of agro. Riders run off the road. Action aplenty. 

Duggan had stayed out of trouble and made his way to fifth wheel as they went through the final corner. A SKCC rider kicked early riding strongly away from the other lead riders. Duggan seized the opportunity and kicked past the other two 6 minute riders to take second, ruing not going earlier for the opportunity for the win. D'Alfonso finished strongly outside the top 10. 

A good day out and happy to get a Brunswick rider on the podium, splitting the SKCC riders. 


(Photos courtesy of B. Mangano)