Thursday, November 24, 2011

Hawthorn Crits - 23/11/2011

Words by Dingus Dave


I really like the Hawthorn crit circuit. Granted, this is much easier to say after getting a win there, but sprinting up that short hill every lap certainly makes things more interesting than rolling round on the flat and getting smashed by 90kg+ monsters at St. Kilda.

I’d never really been able to put things together at Hawthorn though. First round, I attacked too early (1.5 laps to go) and got reeled in before the final bend. Another week I was in the wrong gear as I started the final sprint from 5th wheel (which was probably too far back anyway), skipped my chain trying to gear down and that was it. Last week I managed a third after just missing the winner’s kick on the back straight.

But this week  everything came up TDR. The legs felt a little heavy before the race, after a big weekend and a hard night at the track on Tuesday, but once we got going they sparked up. Feeling better than expected, I attacked off the front about half way through the race. I got a small break, and dangled out there for a couple of laps making sure I didn’t push too hard and blow up. I didn’t care if I got brought back; I was racing more as training, to push myself before Bright, rather than riding a tactical race to conserve energy. The group caught me, and I slotted back into third wheel.

Two laps later I attacked again going up the climb, this time taking one of the Blackburn kids with me. Once again we got a small break, but the little guy wasn’t giving me much shelter into the head wind up the back straight, and after a lap or two we were reeled in.

Suddenly there were only three laps left, but the pace stayed reasonably steady. As we crested the climb with one lap to go, the Blackburn kid attacked again. Last week’s winner McDougall (BWK) kicked to chase him down, and I worked hard to get his wheel as we flew around the sweeping left hander into the back straight. I had to get his wheel before we hit the head wind and thankfully managed to get great shelter and recover slightly leading into the final corner.

Once around the final bend, it was a just the kick to the line to win it. For once I had the right gear, and managed to overhaul McDougall in the final 20m to win by a half wheel.

Hell yeah!

Also, D’Alfonso was extremely unlucky in B Grade last night. Having attacked solo late in the race, he got himself a decent break and was in a perfect position to take the win. But he was getting close to the back of D Grade who were about to start their bell lap and the commisaire, who was rightfully concerned about the two grades getting mixed up during a sprint, called him to ease off and let D Grade go. Unlucky!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Does this qualify as 'Epic'?

Words by Dingus Dave

A TDR crew of Mills, Watson, D’Alfonso and Hogan hit the slopes of Mount Donna Buang on the weekend in a ride that turned out a little wetter than expected.

Leaving Preston in a drizzle of rain, the boys drove out to Seville, about 25km from the base of Mount Donna Buang. During the drive, the rain turned from drizzle to torrential. A quick check of the BOM radar eased fears, as it looked as though the rain was sliding south. And sure enough, at Seville as kit was donned and final preparations done on the bikes the sun was shining and the sky was clear.

It was a rolling 25km to Warburton at the base of the climb; the beautiful scenery balanced out by the narrow shoulder on the road and cars zipping past constantly. But the final few km into Warburton, following the banks of the Yarra, were worth sharing the road for.

The boys turned off the highway towards the summit, and the road kicked up immediately. 17km to go, at an average of 6.4%, great training for scaling Mount Hotham in the Tour of Bright in two weeks time. The road quickly entered the forest of the National Park, and with the canopy cover above came the drizzling rain. Watson, who has had to pull out of the Tour of Bright due to work commitments, was happy to tap out an easy tempo and drifted off the back, leaving the other three to push hard in preparation for the beast that will be Hotham.

By the half way mark the rain was steady. But in the last 7km, the rain turned into a downpour. Hogan could barely see through his glasses due to the fog, so they came off and went into the back pocket. He fell behind D’Alfonso and Mills, who was climbing well in his usual big-gear style. With the eyesight of a mole, Hogan relied on Mills’ flashing red light up ahead to guide him.

Through the wide open car park with 3km to go, the water was gushing down over the road. “Good weather for ducks”, suggested a fellow cyclist as the TDR crew went past.

Watson continued his steady pace, grinning like a fool in the downpour.

The final few km of the climb are perhaps the hardest, as the road kicks up to 8% and then 9% for the final 1km. Mills paid for his early efforts, being reeled in by Hogan, while D’Alfonso powered on ahead, reaching the top just outside the hour mark, with Hogan and Mills not far behind. The boys waited for Watson, rolling some laps of the carpark to try to keep warm.

A quick regroup at the top, and it was time for a nerve-wracking descent. Numb fingers and toes were the order of the day, as Watson, D’Alfonso and Hogan took it very easy on the way down, while Mills was his usual fearless self and disappeared out of sight after just a couple of turns. Watson wore through a couple of months worth of brake pads, while Hogan’s arms were shaking like Popeye’s Olive Oil.

Pies and donuts were inhaled at the bottom at the Warburton bakery, although Hogan was shivering so much he could barely get the food into his mouth without smearing it across his face. The rain was still bucketing down as they started the final 25km back to Seville, but the lads were thankful to be able to warm back up on the ride to Seville. 86km down, and around 1400m of climbing. Training done.

Not satisfied with this for the weekend, Mills backed up the next day for the Victorian State Omnium Champs at DISC (we should hit up Gene for a report), while Hogan ventured south of the river to try his luck amongst the bling at the St Kilda crits, picking up a solid fourth in D Grade.

A good weekend all round.

Thursday, November 17, 2011


What can we say about Mills? A stalwart of Melbourne's cycling scene.

Actually, scratch that.

How about a stalwart of Melbourne's scene full stop?

My best prose will not convey the quality of this mans character. Pics instead.


Suffer. Recover. Repeat

HCC Crits - 16/11/11

Report by Dingus Dave

3rd place for Hogan in D Grade at the HCC Crit. Plenty of time on the front and felt comfortable throughout, but just missed the kick on the back straight by the winner. Caught the next wheel, but couldn't quite get over him in the sprint. 

Happy to finally contest a sprint on that course, but still plenty of work on sprinting skills needed for the rest of the crit season. Not a bad hitout with the Tour of Bright little more than two weeks away.

Busy Busy Busy Busy...

Words by Mills.

So first things first, an apology is in order, since the Shipwreck Classic we’ve been a bit lazy... lazy at updating the blog that is!

But don’t worry because the less time we spend here means the more time we spend out there on the bike, and with Bright just over two weeks away it doesn’t feel like its going to let up any time soon. The Shipwreck Classic has come and gone, and it certainly tested out mettle. It even gave a few of us second thoughts about following through with Bright, but it didn’t stop us and it hardly slowed us down.

Since getting back from Warrnambool its been go go go, with racing Track at Brunswick and Northcote, regular sessions down at both Hawthorn and Coburg Crits, long day’s out to the dandies’ for a few climbs, a cyclocross adventure out on some of Victoria’s best rail trails and even a 90km ITT thrown in there... you can see why the blogs been stale for a week or two, we’ve hardly had time to breathe!

But not long now one more week of hard training, a week to taper and rest up then Bright will be upon us and it will be time to put all these efforts to work. Then rest!

(Don’t mention training for the Christmas track carnivals! erg)

Monday, November 7, 2011

2011 Shipwreck Coast Classic - Race Report

30/10/2011 - Warnambool - Our first open road race

Words by Dingus Dave

The author after the race. Shattered. 

I wasn’t really sure what I was in for. Hell, I’d only ridden a handful of club road races over the past 6 months, and here I was lining up at an Open event; 116km along Victoria’s South West coast with vicious cross winds. Not only that, it was a mass start with all grades, so I was lined up next to the lads from Genesis Wealth Advisors and Team Budget Fork Lifts.

We had a neutral zone for the first few kilometres through the streets of Warrnambool. Neutral is a relative term though – we were smashing it at 40km an hour. I knew I was in trouble when my heart rate nearly maxed out before the race proper had even started. I was amongst the guys strung out at the back, Gene was next to me, and Steve and Adrian just up ahead, when a shout came from behind me; “Fuck off Genesis Pros, we’ve paid our sixty bucks too!”

The pace eased a little, and I looked around. Nathan Hass was next to me. Shit, I’ve gotta get in front of him so I can say that I was leading him at some point. No luck, he weaved around a couple of riders and got ahead of me. I needn’t have worried though. We reached the base of a hill, 6% for 1km, and the flag dropped. Fuck. The A Graders at the front smashed it, I made it over feeling ok, but as we crested the hill the cross winds hit, and the field split up dramatically. Haas had already called it quits by this stage – caught at the back of the pack in these cross winds was not the place to be. All of a sudden it was a battle to find a wheel, any wheel. We got some shelter from the support cars, but before I knew it I was at the back working with Mills just to hang on. I could see Duggan about 50m ahead riding with two or three others, battling like us in the brutal winds.

We picked up a couple of other guys and worked to stay in some kind of touch. After 10km or so, we caught the group with Duggan and D’Alfonso, and formed a solid bunch of 13 or so. For the next hour-and-a-half we worked together in the cross winds, and I got a crash course in echelon riding. It took a huge mental and physical effort just to hold a wheel. I put my head down, legs burning, gasping for breath, I glanced at my speedo – we were doing 28km/hr. Hard yakka.

After 40km I was hurting, my back was in pain and I was mentally starting to fade. I lost touch with the group. But the thought of riding the best part of 80km in these winds on my own scared the hell out of me, and I put in an effort to get back on. Phew.

We reached the Great Ocean Road proper, and followed the rollers past the rugged rocky outcrops. But the views were tempered by the wind screaming off the water. I counted heads – Mills was gone, dropped just a few km earlier. As we reached Peterborough, about 60km into the race, we rounded a bend and the pace kicked up. I couldn’t go. My head dropped and my legs stopped. I gave up. I look back in hindsight and say I could have held on, I should have worked harder, Don’t we always. But at the time I was cooked.

The group disappeared up the road. I felt embarrassed coming out of Peterborough, as the Police escort had stopped the traffic at a major intersection for the race; cars were backed up waiting as I rolled through on my own at 25km/hr. I didn’t see another cyclist for the rest of the race, pushing the last 55km on my own. I forgot about my speed and just tried to turn my legs over and stretch my back. The intense racing of the first hour-and-a-half had given way to a gentle solo training ride around the back roads of South West Victoria.

I kept an eye out for Mills behind me, but never saw him. With 12km to go I was joined by a motorcycle escort, who motorpaced me for a few kms before dropping behind and protecting me from passing traffic. I was happy to have some company.

I crossed the line on my own in 64th place, almost an hour behind the A Grade winner. Mills followed about 5 minutes later. I was stoked to hear that Duggan and D’Alfonso had stayed with the bunch, with the two of them leading the sprint over the line.

Hogan (C) - 15th +44:33
Mills (C) - 16th +48:42
Duggan (C) - 6th +17:46
D'Alfonso (C) - 7th +17:46

Post-race Burgers.