Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Embrocation & Disqualification - John Sewell Handicap 2012

Great Northern Combine race on the weekend. The John Sewell Memorial Handicap presented by the Brunswick Cycling Club drew a full-house by the Wednesday prior, and the trash talking had begun early. 

Soawyer, Duggan and D'alfonso managed to get entries. However with D'alfonso pulling a Mills and forgetting a wheel, and then a helmet on the drive up, it was left to Soawyer and Duggan to hold the fort for TDR. 

Soawyer was off 9 minutes. Duggan off 7 minutes. The 5 minute bunch looked very strong and we didn't hold out much hope of holding off scratch either. 

This guy won the sock competition. Easy. 

The 7 minute group worked well together for the majority of the first lap, with people only starting to miss turns after about 20 km. 

9 minute bunch working hard. Soawyer never far from the front

We rounded the 9 minute bunch up and the pace slowed, with lots of stragglers hanging on. The pace dropped dramatically, and after a bit of chat about not wanting to get caught, Soawyer attacked with Duggan on his wheel and managed to shake the chaff off the back of the bunch. 

Paddy Mc started with Soawyer in the 9 minute bunch and finished well for 10th

Last lap and we catch the 13 minute bunch at a rail crossing. Someone yells "Scratch is on us!" and it's on. It's actually the 5 minute bunch and they filter to the front as the stronger riders try to maintain good position in the now enormous bunch. Soawyer drags Duggan up and drops him off into a good position for the sprint finish. Duggan goes marginally early and is pipped by half a wheel on the line by BCC's Ian Clarke. 


Wait, why are they needing to get placings down to 20th? Turns out about 1/3 of the field has been disqualified for white line infringements cornering. This was a message to riders to tighten behaviour up before the 3DT this week. 

Unfortunate, but definitely required. We're happy to cop one if it ensures the longevity of the Combine. 

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Race Report - Geelong Club Tour

Words by G.Hogan... (Gee-Hoges)...

The Geelong Club Tour began like most tours do, the night before, you smash a much pasta as you can, fixing whatever is wrong with your bike and watching Jack Ass late into the night at your good mates.

Day One: 
Started out fairly poorly, it was pouring rain and it was cold and you just wanted to go back to bed and question why I keep doing this to myself, and there is one answer: 

Bikes. Are. AWESOME!!!

STAGE 1: 45min Kermesse. 

Ned Volk, his dad Paul and myself managed to pull B Grade for the weekend the weekend of racing, pfft yet another mistake from the handy capers. The race began  fairly steadily and to serious until about 5 minutes in when attacks came left right and centre and were shut down fairly quickly. 15 minutes in coming down the downhill *flat back tyre*.


I was at the furthest point the start finish line and by the time I got there I had lost a lap already and I had  another lap to get back in, with the quickest tube change of my life I had it fixed and was waiting for the group to swing back through to get on. I got back in to be confronted to another flurry of attacks that were again shut down right away. The tempo was being set by Ned, some two other blokes and myself, we were dishing you the pain and it was evident with most of the stragglers dropping off.

Re-entering the kermesse after the puncture 

Bell lap. I had the dream position, 3 back at the front of the group, 500m to go I was just following the wheel of whoever stuck their nose into the wind. One guy managed to slip off the front and had a gap on us, with Ned stuck on my wheel (he knows I can sprint) it was up to me. Into the head wind and on an uphill drag that was taking its toll on the legs I got onto the rider, around him turning an uphill hair pin with 75m, and started the final sprint to the line.*looks under left arm* clear sailing, *under right arm* Ned's on my hip. Crossed the line to Ned saying "YEAH BUDDY


One-two finish was awesome, and then the realisation that Paul let us down and rolled in 6th instead of 3rd. Ah well dream was alive with me in top spot in the GC. The drive to stage two Ned and I look at each other and said "Maccas?"...smashed a double cheese burger and a chicken and cheese burger for our lunch time feed, only 4 bucks each and its dairy, meat, carbs and sugars in it..the whole food pyramid! 

STAGE 2: Time Trial. 

This was held at the purpose built criterium track in Belmont. It was only 4km/ two laps so no excuse not to be in 53 11. The start list was reverse order of the GC but riders were going off every 30 seconds so we didn't have to wait long. Those who have ridden on that track will know that is tight, and cornering means the difference between winning and losing. Thank god that cornering is one thing that I'm good at!

With one exception due to the fact I was cutting a corner to tight and I needed to break to not hit gravel and stack I did not touch the brakes once! To come through and post the stage winning time of 6:21min averaging 41- not even kidding

Yes it was short but best TT I have ever done! 1 second up on Ned who ran wide on the last corner loosing 2 or 3 seconds which proves my statement "cornering means the difference between winning and loosing"

*not in any way to scale but this is an idea of the track*

So at the end of day one I was for the first time ever the leader of the GC at any tour..even though it was still anyone's race as all the contenders were within 30sec to a minute.

STAGE 3: The deciding stage. 60km road race through Steiglitz Historical Park/ Brisbane Rangers National Park... 

Yes that's right - Brisbane has a park in Victoria...

The race was under control for the first 3km but after that the groups split fairly quickly and I found myself in a breakaway group of 7 or 8 riders. Some fresher than others as some didn't race the day before. I couldn't hack the pace much longer through the hill, there was this kid that as absolutely driving it up the hills! *curses*  And I'm being deadly serious when I say- I can't climb like I used to!

The long and the short the cold I woke up with and my efforts the in stage one and two had taken its toll on me and I dropped off the break away, and later the main group after doing most of the work as none else was willing to try. I had lost the tour that day, I crossed the line ten minutes down from the first rider which was fairly disappointing, but  I can't really complain with two stage wins.

Over and out

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

From Copenhagen, with love

Watson is overseas being a fancy lawyer in Dubai. He's still rocking some mad TDR/Briko style!

Watson after smashing the Copenhagen Marathon

He's in France cycling in a few weeks and we're hoping to get some updates from his adventures.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Random Visuals - SKCC Trophy

Duggan had his first day out in B grade at the SKCC trophy this year. Happy enough and glad the lads didn't go too hard on him first day out! D'alfonso an unlucky DNF with an immense call of nature...

Race report and pictures to come from the G-Hoge's who won two of the three stages at the Geelong CC Tour. Stay tuned.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Random Track Visuals

Courtesy of Caz, who's apparently going to run 95.5" at this weeks hour of power!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Race Report - Phillip Island Grand Prix Support Races

Words by Soawyer...

Hi all, long time reader first time writer here at TDR, endeavouring to bridge the void between HellKrew and aforementioned compatriots.

Awoke to a fantastic day in the Northern suburbs and was pretty excited at the prospect of racing my bike on a race track, at the beach, in the sun. As the morning wore on it became pretty obvious this would not come to fruition.

The team meeting place had been decided on as Proud Mary in Collingwood because
A. Gene works there and we’d likely be looked after
B. As the hipster-est team in club racing it seemed fitting.

I was last to arrive in the team bus finding Matt, Gene and Steve itching to get caffeinated, we took up residence at one of the outdoor tables and discussed tactics for the day (read. BMX). After pumping ourselves full of stimulants we loaded up the bikes and hit the road. It seemed a little early but we’d already seen the bike of the day, Bianchi MTB in world champ colourway seemingly cutting laps round the cafe.
More in-depth tactical discussion followed on the drive down (read. vintage motocross).

Upon reaching the  track to catch the end of some unimportant teams race the severity of the weather had become quite apparent. 137 starters 36 finishers. regardless we entered, numbered and embro’d up for the support races. Matt, Steve and I all being in B while Gene looked after C grade. It would be the first outing in B grade for Steve and I so nerves were high, we went for a warmup lap, track was wet but still grippy enough, wind was atrocious. Rules for the day would be position, position, position and don’t let yourself get pushed onto the rumble strips or grass.

As we rolled back into the pits after our sighting lap facts would say that the wind picked and blew a marque over right as we rolled under it, however I’m pretty convinced it was the rising vortice of RAD which picked up the flimsy shelter and threw it at some guys Mercedes. Following this we lost jackets, weathered another downpour and gridded up. Due to entries A and B grade had been combined and the race shortened was to be around 70km now.

We rolled out happy to be moving again the first few laps was quite civil a few small moves going off the front but no real commitment. We had some unspoken rivals in the bunch in team Canard who had apparently been waiting for us to make an appearance in B, pride was at stake. A few more laps of the same interspersed with some occasional action from the few A graders in the bunch. Finally at about 10 to go (of 15) 3 guys got off the front one of them an A grade guy, a Leongatha CC and one from our new rivals team Canard. The bunch let them get out to about 1-200m but always keeping them insight Team Saint Cloud did our work but let it be largely. Then on the back straight after pulling a turn I looked under my shoulder for the next rider coming through to see day light, I’d rolled about 10-15m off the front without realizing it. Looking up the road I saw the break nearing the “climb” (I feel silly saying that word after Bawbaw) about 100m up the road, it felt too early, but I went for it and caught the 3 escapees as they crested the hill. They seemed happy to have another face in the mix, we crossed the line with 9 to go, it was going to be a long day.

In the back of my mind I know we were in a pretty good position as Canard and ourselves were not likely to aggressively chase down a break they both had friends in and it would be up to the remainder of the bunch to get together and reel us in, in this weather I didn’t see anyone willing to do the lion’s share and get popped out the back. The next 5 laps passed without incident our small break working well together, trying to shelter from the wind always keeping an eye on the pursuing peloton. With 4 to go we lost the Canard boy this was not great news as I was sure they would work to bring the break back and turn it into a bunch kick. We all dug that extra little bit and kept talking to keep the morale up, I began to think about how I was to beat the two guys I was left with, A grade guy must’ve had about 30kg on me so I figured a drag race was pretty much out of the question, Leongatha guy was less worrying but had been pretty quiet the last few laps so might be a bit fresher. I decided to go on the climb drop them off my wheel and make them do their work into the wind hoping to wear them out a bit.

It didn’t work, I didn’t have as much left as I thought, they held on and we swapped a couple more short turns in the wind and wound up for a sprint ( I still feel I can run a faster sprint than I ride).

3rd overall 2nd in B grade, fkn stoked. Then to add to the stoke Duggan takes the bunch sprint for 3rd with Matt leading out and rolling in 5th.

Yet again a top day out racing, the weather really can’t dampen the feeling of achievement and exhaustion post race, ontop of that winnings paid for fuel and big M’s. Points all round. I am however starting to think that TDR should brand themselves as foul weather experts (read. In with a shot when most people aren’t stupid enough to come out racing)

Ed: Mad props to Brunswick's own Rachel Oakenfull for finishing her first road race in tough conditions. Oh and Gene for a strong ride also...

Post race photo after racing in the freezing cold, rain and gale force winds... Whatevs

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Race Report - Wood/Sellars Memorial Handicap

Words by TDR newcomer, Dingus Dave's cousin, Greg Hogan...

The drive from Geelong to Meredith for Wood/Sellars memorial handiycap began smoothly, no rain. However it was pretty cloudy and it was also really, really cold. Oh and quoting "shit cyclists say" left right and center...

Is that carbon?...Awwww carrbon... Is this a good spot to pee?

The race began with two groups between scratch and limit, a mistake on the handicaper's behalf was to put myself, and my high school mate and riding buddy Ned Volk, on second limit.

The first 5ks were fairly fast and with out realising it we had already dropped three or four other riders. the remaining local guys had made the decision to sit on and do minimal work. Ned, the power house that he is did most of the driving to bridge the gap to the limit markers where i pulled a turn where i could, pulling up beside Ned to say "I'm bonking. Got an extra bar? C-c-c-car baack. If i dont like this can i return this? *a gel* (All jest aside, I was actually starting to feel pretty bad though).

Not long befor the mid way point we caught the limit markers and went straight past, leaving them there. By the half way point., 32kms, I had dropped off the remaining pack, leaving me in no mans land and Ned with two others out in front. At some stage think with 20kms left, Ned broke away solo to clame the victory.

The last lap and half was by myself. I had some guy sitting on me not doing a thing, so I managed to shake him off coming into the hill section of the loop. The 10km time trial began to at least try to get on the podium. With the remaining two local boy always in sight I was slowly pulling them back, the bloke in the HTC kit that actually looked like Matt Goss popped big time, and I got past him with 7km left.

By now I'm running of the two slices of toast with nuttela that i had for breakfast and 1 part red & green cordial, two parts water and the words of Jens Voigt "SHUT UP LEGS!!". I brought the guy left back to roughly 15-20 seconds but with the ecouragement of a passing car he dragged the finishing time time gap back out to 40 seconds.

Second road race of the season and second podium finish under my belt. I'm keen for more races where I'im not needing to say "I'm bonking...got an extra bar? I think my breaks are rubbing". But in all seriousness, I actually think I had a slow leak in the back...

Greg in team issue volleys...

And what do two Uni students buy with prize money from a race? Spiritus- 95% alchol...smells and tastes like metho. It's gonna be a rough night when that goes down.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Race Report - Anchor Point Tour of the South West

Words by D'alfonso...

The call came out from Kent to TDR, ‘New Tour! looks cool’. Warrnambool cycling club was hosting The anchor point tour of the South West and with no Combine races scheduled the team consensus was best encapsulated by Duggans response ‘Down like a clown!’. 

The C grade tour consisted of three stages, 85 km (five 17km laps) Road race, 12.7 km time trial and a 40 minute criterium on the Sunday. Being hosted in Warrnambool there were two things that were guaranteed; firstly it would be a moderately flat tour and secondly there would be wind, a lot of wind coupled with a high probability of rain.

The preceding two weeks had seen TDR race in the CSV Baw  Baw classic and the NC Hell of the West and the form had been promising. Duggan having won the latter (C grade) and Sowyer finishing top 10 in the former (C grade). Both amazing efforts!! Not everything was all peaches and cream though, Kent and myself were both mentally scarred by the experience of Baw Baw. 

As the weekend of the tour approached, forecasts were for rain and wind, lots of wind, the fair weather rider in me was considering pulling the pin, Warrnambool is a long way to go if you are not enjoying racing, only a phone call from Mills on the Friday morning tipped me over the edge. With that sorted we hopped in the car and drove....

Road race:
True to the weather forecast, the sky was patchy with clouds but no rain was evident, even the wind wasn't too bad. As I rolled out with the rest of TDR (Mills, Duggan, Kent and Sowyer) I thought this might not be so bad. After signing on and getting a briefing from the race commissaire C grade lined up. TDR has a new sponsor, Saint Cloud on Gertrude Street in Fitzroy (check them out), so with three members of TDR team kitted out in the hippest of cycling clothes from Saint Cloud, TDR certainly looked Pro on the start line. 

Right on cue, the wind picked up and with that the road race was on.

The first lap was relatively uneventful, most of the bunch was a little nervous with the cracking 50 kph cross winds. The second lap started much the same as the first, everyone content to roll through, but on the final 8 km of the lap BOOM! The race exploded. 

The big units took the front formed an echelon and smacked the bunch. Duggan sensing the danger managed to barge his way into the echelon and cranked it up another notch. With the exception of the riders in the front echelon the bunch was strung out along the gutter, everyone was fighting to hold wheels. I was mid line with Kent holding Soweyers wheel who himself was holding Nick Edwards wheel a few riders back. As the start finish line appeared, I popped audibly, and a gap opened up, Edwards saw this and moved across taking Sowyer with him. 

As I crossed the start finish line I pulled out of the remaining pace line and sat up watching the lead bunch pull away thinking to myself, ‘at least I'm near the car’. For some reason I kept pedalling, and the bunch slowed down, I put my head down and chased. Kent a few meters back did the same. The next few km’s I was riding solo into the cross winds chasing a pack that had sat up, as they turned into St Mary’s road, with a tail wind, I knew this was my last chance. I needed to get back on the bunch before they crossed Alansford-Wangoom road and smacked it. 

Luck would have it, I did. Kent was only meters off my wheel but couldn’t close the gap. I sat in, dreading the crosswind section on the remaining 3 laps. Duggan looked calm, this was his playground, Sowyer and I were definitely out of our element but still hanging in. As we turned into the cross winds again, Sowyer and I moved to the front echelon and worked, we survived. Kent was still chasing on. 2 laps to go. 

The next lap was relatively uneventful, with the bunch rolling turns, and the race getting neutralised in the crosswind section to allow A grade to pass. This was the calm before the storm, as soon as the neutral car pulled out, 500 m from the start finish line, it was on! The (smaller) pack exploded again. I was sitting last wheel, Sowyer had popped and Duggan was leading the charge as we turned into Alansford-Wangoom road for the last time. 

As the last KOM point approached Tom Quirk took off. The bunch let him go, thinking that he would be back shortly. He wasn't. He kept going. It was a massively gutsy move. As the bunch rolled turns into the final crosswind section Tom was still away and looking strong. I knew I had no hope in contesting a sprint, and more to the point ran the risk of getting dropped in the final dash to the line decided to chance my luck. 

At the 5 Km mark I attacked the bunch and chased Tom. A slow 3 km later, I was about 20 meters off Toms wheel when Nick Edwards stormed past me. I couldn’t grab his wheel and a few hundred meters later the bunch swallowed me up. Tom kicked again, dropping Nick as the bunch came storming through and held on for a hard fought win by 2 seconds. Out of the bunch came a storming Duggan taking a strong second place. I sat on the bunch finishing third last wheel, but clocked the same time as the main bunch. 

The road race finished at 12:00, and the time trial was scheduled for 2:30. We spent the next 2 hours sitting around Jeremy's sweet car, lazing in the sun, discussing the days efforts so far. So far it had been pretty fun and as an added bonus our main GC contender was sitting pretty in 2nd place.

Time Trial:
As the TT was scheduled to start, BOOM, the heavens opened and the rain came down/sideways. Huddling under cover, chatting to Duggan, I pulled the pin, I wasnt going to ride in the rain. But then riding to the car, the rain eased up, I changed my mind, and I went to the start line. 

There isnt really much you can say about TT’s. They suck, you dont really know how you are doing, sometimes you catch the guy in front, but most of the time your hoping that you dont get passed. This one was no different as I rolled through the finish line, I hear the the announcer call that I have put in a nice ride, displacing Sowyer from the leaders position by a few seconds.  At the conclusion of the TT I was sitting 5th overall in GC, down by 36 seconds. Duggan had given up a minute on GC.

That night we sat around, chatting and eating.  Realistically, I was 20 seconds off the podium, and the smart money was that the Criterium would end in a bunch sprint. 

There was speculation that the crit course would be similar to the teardrop that HCC runs its criterium on. As TDR rolled to the crietium course, it was patently obvious that this was not the case. The course had a small hill that was both steeper and longer that the teardrop, and the actual circuit was longer. 

As soon as the start gun went off, the race was on. Duggan started near the front, Soweyer, Kent, Mills and myself near the back. Clearly a bad mistake. The race started at a cracking pace, 55 kmh will destroy any field, let alone one that was tired from the wind and rain yesterday.  Mills and Kent held on but it was too much and they pulled out. 

Beautiful location for a criterium. Pity about the hill... 

Mills stuck on some bad wheels early in the race...

Soawyer and I used every trick in the book to work our way to the front of the pack, at least this way we could avoid the concertina effect. 

Duggan following wheels early in a frantic start...

Duggan had added sprint points to his goals, he was now going contest intermediate sprints. As the first sprint lap approached (15min) the sprint contenders moved to the front, stringing out the field. Duggan, moved to second wheel after covering a split, I sat in on 5th wheel as they sprinted to the line. On the hill a rider saw the split and moved clear, I jumped on his wheel and a third rider on mine. 

Sensing this was a chance to cause a break away, I called for us to work. The break instigator and myself swapped a few turns, with the third rider sitting on. It was at this point (17:30 min in) I lost my cool. I yelled at him to pull a turn (expletives deleted). He was muttering that he wasnt going for GC and it was my responsibility. We exchanged a few insults on the next hill climb. The hill climb after that I found myself 10 meters clear 19mins into the 40min+3  race. 

DEE-LAH-FONZO attacks!

The smart thing to do would be to go back to the bunch and sit in a bit longer, 21 mins + 3 laps is a long way to solo. I wasn’t smart, I went clear and for the next lap I vaguely thought someone would come accross. 

They didn’t. I was dangling off the front. I had the choice, roll the dice and go for it, or return sheepishly to the bunch. After my outburst two laps previously, that wasnt an option. I went for it. 

Mills and Mitchell Allen were placed on the top of the hill, yelling encouragement, although later Mills did admit ‘I thought you went way too early’.  Initially, each time I crossed the start finish line the announcer would say, ‘Dee-alfonso has gone early, I dont know if he can hold it’. 

Working hard to stay clear...

I was burying it, and slowly the time gap went up, at one point I heard that I was 20 seconds up on the bunch, I needed 36 for GC. 

Racing for second...

I had Duggan and Sowyer in the bunch ticket collecting and at about the 30 minute mark the announcer was getting a little bit more animated, telling the crowd the time splits and what I needed for GC. People started giving the odd clap and Mills was telling me the time splits. 

Soawyer looking 'buggered' and 'chasing hard' on the front...

So was Duggan...

My legs were burning but I kept going. At one point I was 40 seconds up and in the virtual leaders jersey. But 20 mins is a long way to go off the front solo. I started to fade, even at one point calling for the bell a lap early. 

On the way to a great win...

On the second last lap my legs started cramping and on the last hill climb, as I got out of the saddle, my legs gave up cramps took over so with one last effort I pedalled to the line, crossing it 24 seconds ahead of the GC leader, and 12 seconds down in GC. 

Duggan having completed his ticket collecting duties took third place in a good sprint.  At the conclusion of the race the commissaire reprimanded me for my earlier outburst, which was fair enough and some riders (and even spectators!) congratulated me on the ride. 

I was stuffed, I had rolled the dice and given it my all, I was happy with my efforts even if they were not enough.

Monday, April 30, 2012

On the podium, lacking sodium

Full report to come, but the TDR crew had a pretty successful weekend at the Tour of the South West. Everyone rode well, with both D'alfonso and Duggan getting on the podium, and everyone chipping in to get D'alfonso up for 2nd in GC overall. 

Well done mate! 

Duggan snatched second in the 85km road race stage
D'alfonso wins the criterium from a solo break with Duggan taking 3rd

D'alfonso moved into 2nd in GC after taking some big time back in the criterium

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Race Report - Hell of the West 2012

Appropriately gloomy and misty conditions met riders who managed to get an entry into this year's Hell of the West. 

D'alfonso, Duggan and Mills of TDR had managed to score entries into B, C and D grade respectively. D'alfonso rode well in B, with his last minute attack only swept up by a charging peloton about 500 m from the line. Mills rode well to finish with the bunch, and is getting stronger race after race. It's Duggan's turn to write a race report, so here goes... 

My prepartation that morning was hopeless. No breakfast. Slept in. Arrived late. No warm-up. Not enough food in the pockets. This was not looking good...

Nervous and already hungry...

A smaller bunch of only 20 riders comprised C grade. Lots of familiar faces in the crowd, with the standout being Glynn Matthey who had presumably dropped down from A-grade purely due to the steepness of the climb. 

Speaking of, the 13.5% climb is stuff of legend. With a 23T on the back, I was worried. Everyone had gotten into me about how hard the climb is. Peter Wilkie said he had a 23T on last year and almost died. Everyone at the club said I would need a bigger cassette. Sean "The Man" Hurley said only pussy's ride more than 23T. I left it on... 

The race started at a fairly leisurely pace with an early attack from Col Bell (SCC) and Matthey (CCC) shut down by some overly nervous SKCC riders. Up the first decent pinch, Michael Sparke (BWK) attacked and gapped the bunch by about 30 m. I jumped across quickly at the top of the climb only to have the usual suspects close the gap to us. 

Everyone on high alert. Too early to attack. 

A few rollers later and we're nearing the gravel section. We were warned before the race that the road had been graded. I had physically licked my lips. I was looking forward to testing the cyclocross skills of the grade, being reasonably confident in the dirt myself. 

Such a great race

We turn the corner and traverse the 10 cm piles of gravel pushed up on the entry. This is going to be sketchy! Heck yeah! I click up a couple and turn on the gas. Didn't look back but given how much I was sliding around the road, gaps had to be opening. 

Having a dip

Half-way through the gravel section I fly by Kosdown's own Luca Giacomin, who'd just suffered a puncture. I give him a hoot and keep trucking. 

Gaps opening...

More gaps...

Matthey in the wrong group! (for the break)

Kohler and Howard well off the back. They did well to get back on.


Onto the blacktop once again, I finally take a look around to see a small group chasing working reasonably well together. I sit up, take a drink and jump on the back to see if I can help make this stick. The group is comprised of 3 SKCC, Sparke, and Bell. A notable abscence: Matthey. The 6 man group stayed away for a few more kms before being reeled in by the remnants of the group containing the human freight-train. 

Once the fragments were back together, everyone began to accept the fact that the race was probably going to be decided on the hill/wall. Just as I'd began to accept this myself, Preben Kohler and another rider jumped off the front past myself and Matthey and established a healthy lead. Content to let them cook, Matthey and myself with a couple other riders rode tempo, content to keep them in sight. 

When another SKCC rider bridged the gap to the escapees and then blew-up, Mark Howard (SKCC) came to the front for the second time during the race and initiated a chase. A few minutes later they were back in the fold and once again Matthey was on the front tapping out the kms.

Finally, the hill. Under wise advice from Sparke, they both move to the front to allow slipping back through the pack when the pressure rose. I was on Rob Merkel's wheel and had planned on following that wheel as long as I could, knowing Merkel is a pretty good climber. 

Holy. Crap. That's Steep... 

I just tried to be as smooth as possible on the climb, being out of the saddle 80% of the time. Sitting down on the steeper sections just meant doing wheelie's up the hill, which while impressive, is pretty scary at 95% effort...

3 riders ahead of me. We were all riding decently steadily.

Howard who'd hit the hill pretty visciously at the start was flagging audidably and going backwards. A large groan made me look over to him on the steepest part of a switchback to see him veer off the road. In a moment of panic he jumped out of the saddle and pedalled as hard as he could, presumably in an effort to get back on the black stuff. It resulted in an over the handlebar adventure with a rest on the gravel thrown in for good measure. I thought to myself, I'm in love this race...

Merkel, Rosch and Duggan follow the SRAM rider over first. 

Matthey in the box...

Bell smashing it with Sparke and Kohler close behind.

Howard climbing the remainder of the hill after his offroad adventure.

4 riders crest the hill and look at each other. Michael Rousch (SKCC), Merkel and myself immediately put the gas on and start working with each other to head up the road. The other rider drops off. We put in equal turns and really work well together to the next corner. Looking around there's about 4 riders chasing about 600 m back. 

We continue to work for another few kms before seeing that the group had swollen to about 8 and quickly realised we were being left out to cook. We agreed to soft pedal and recover before we were quickly shut down by a rampaging Matthey who was putting us out of our misery. 

Right - it's going to be a sprint finish. Matthey moves to the front. Stays there for the next 15 kms...

Sitting in the wheels. Drinking my last bit of water. I can feel the hunger wall coming on. Such shit preparation... 

The sprint finish was a fairly straight-forward affair. I wanted to make sure I had a decent wheel to follow, and Howard was on a wheel behind me somewhere after I'd seen him almost write himself and the peloton off at Newham last year. 

I jumped and managed to sprint well enough with fading legs to hold off the fast finishing Howard and Rousch. Kohler 4th.   

My first, and probably last, win of the season. Looking forward to B-grade and eating my bar tape just to stay in the peloton for the remainder of the season.

The highlight of the day was the wry smile on Matthey's face as Howard proceeded to tell us of how happy he was with his 2nd placing after falling off on the hill, and completing a full "6 minute effort" on the front earlier on in the race. 

"6 minutes, you say?" - Matthey

Props go to TDR's friend James Dunn for winning the B-grade bunch kick, and Shane Miller for a killer ride to win off the front of the A-grade bunch. Miller wrote an excellent race report which you can read here. 

Top day. Pity it was such a still day and it came down to a sprint. It would have been a much different story if we'd had some cross-winds. I'm looking forward to the Tour of the South West this weekend and some serious gutter action. 

Friday, April 20, 2012

Weekend Warriors...

This weekend is shaping up to be a ripper. First up on Saturday:

Entries filled in a few hours only and D'alfonso and Duggan managed to get a ride in B and C respectively. This is a great race on the Northern Combine calendar, and should be a great day. Look out for a race report and hopefully some pictures early next week.

Next up, Sunday:

Angry and Blakey have been out reconnoitering another great course for the next installment of the Melbourne Gravel Grinders. Always good fun with good crew. Get along!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

2012 Mt Baw Baw Classic - Vomit & Glory

Words by Kent...

Well, Jez, Adrian and I did Baw Baw. Easily the hardest race I have ever done.

Weather: amazing.
Distance: 103 kilometres: 3600 metres of vertical climbing, culminating in Baw Baw.

Pace was relatively on from the get-go. My legs felt super heavy from the start and, thus, popped about 35 kilometres in.

Spent the next twenty ks with my head down, trying to get a sweet rhythm. Got through the feed station, got my other bottle from Steve (huge thanks to Steve for the help during the day). But my legs were fucked, and everything progressively got harder and harder.

Vespers hill is about 6km, with an average of about 6-12 percent. Tapped it out, tried to keep calm. The next thirty odd ks were windy and beautiful. I knew i was heaps far back, so I drafted the course ambo for a bit, before they got wise to it. Had to briefly stop when i was overcome by cramps...so painful.

Hit the bottom of Baw Baw. The first 5km is an easy 4-5%, and i span up it, trying to make up as much ground as i could. I saw the sign for the Gantry, signalling the start of the last 6km, with an average of 12-13%, with spots of 20%. I was already cramped up, in pain, out of water. I was fucked.

The next 40minutes are a bit of a blur. Passed some guys staring vacantly into space, some vomit (which turns out was Jez's). At one point I think i started crying, but it was taking up too much energy.

Never have i been to relieved to see a finish line.

Pretty disappointed i couldn't stick with the bunch. I had been hoping to be with them until the climb, then make my own way up. I guess it just wasn't my day.

Huge shout out to Jez (10th!) and Adrian (Ed: and you Kent!) for smashing it. Also thanks to Steve and Elaine for helping out.

It is a fantastic race, but brutal. I am spent.

Monday, April 16, 2012

D-grade Domination - Gene Mills - Pastoria

Words by Mills...

Once again my race started in a shambles of "What did Mills forget this time?"

Not being keen enough to have a 5 o'clock wake up the morning of the race, i partook in some of the now famous Duggan family hospitality, jumping on the train out to Sunbury and getting  chauffeured over to the farm the night before the race, where i was able enjoy the most pleasant sleep i've had in a long time. There's just something about getting away from the city and the beautiful country air of Riddells Creek.

Being too daft to actually check the weather, I thought i would just pack for all eventualities. Winter, autumn and summer kit, all got thrown in the bag with some food and a book for the trip. "Thought" being the key word in that last sentence...

So its the morning of the race. The legs feel good, and I'm well rested. I've been sticking to my training program (well most of the time) and i'm even feeling a little bit confident.

That last part changed pretty quick. "Sh!t". Where are my bib knicks?

I've got the full length winter kit, but i just found out it's going to be 27 today! Everything else is here; Arm warmers, nope to hot for them; rain jacket, no to hot for that; knee warmers and over shoes, wont be needing these today; but no bloody bib knicks... I threw on my brand new full winter knicks. Wind, rain, hail these things could handle it, but that was not what i wanted right now...

Duggan keeps reassuring me "Mate you'll be fine, it will probably be cold over there anyway. There's always a chill in the air over that way". Well really we couldn't of had better weather for the first race of the season, and I was gutted...

A short drive over to Kyneton in the team bus, Hogan arrives, we sign up and my legs are already boiling. I've not even hopped on the bike yet. After a little bit of confusion and a lot of riding back and forth between the start location and the Saleyards, we hit the start line and there's nothing to do now but ride,

A grade take off and you can hear the chatter through the rest of the grades about how long it will be before GreenEDGE's (and Brunswick's) Mitch Docker will turn up the heat in the bunch. B roll out not to long after. Duggan and Hogan are off next along with the rest of C grade, officially starting their winter road season.

D grade roll out, and same as below with C grade, it was hardly walking pace till the first set of rollers. No one wanted to be responsible for turning up the pace to early, but ever so slowly around the first half of the track the pace picked up. One rider went off the front and just sat 100m or so out there for a bit, but no one was ever worried, or maybe they just didn't show it by chasing.

The first pass of Bald Hill picked the pace up a bit and brought the grade together. Rolling down towards the finish for the first time, I felt as if the race had truly started now. I tried to keep up in the front half of the bunch at all times but didn't push it to much and tried not to do to much work. Not shirking though, I pulled my turns with the rest of the crew up the front. It was a good sized field for D and there was a big mix of ability in there, so I was always trying to keep an eye out for wheels I knew, or people who looked smooth on the bike. You know - when I wasn't to busy complaining about how hot my freaking legs were.

The second time around the marshaled corner and the pace picked up again, but the group wasn't willing to let any one go off the front so there was a quite a bit of surging as people would take there attacks and the rest of the bunch would chase as one to shut it down. By this point I was sitting up the front with about 10 or so other's know that this is where i wanted to be for the rest of the race, just cover attacks and being ready in case a break did go.

The first big hit out was up the short sharp climb before Bald Hill on the on the second lap, and from then on it was the same small bunch of riders who would stretch out the bunch whenever they saw a good opportunity to go. But the bunch held strong, and the race didn't separate, but there was definitely some movement in the pack as people came up to the front to try and make their final lap moves. Meanwhile, all I could think about was unzipping the ankle cuffs on these knicks and letting some air in!

Nice skinny jeans!

Coming in to the marshalled corner before Bald Hill for the last time, I started working my way up into the front six wheels or so, ending up on the front after the first small climb till half way up the hill. No one wanted to pass, but the three of us on the front didn't feel much like spending ourselves, so it slowed a bit on the flats and you could feel people getting nervous. I hit Bald Hill with a nice easy tempo not wanting to attack from the front and waiting for it to come from behind me. It did and i went with it,

Still on the front...
Near the front...
1 or 2 back at most...

I could feel my legs giving up, "keep going, so close, so close" i kept telling myself...

60m from the crest and i was done, the group past me. But there was only 6 of them.

I looked back to see the bunch had split. Everyone else was well behind me, out of the saddle again chasing down those 6 that had gone.

I caught one of them. Ok, keep going, only 5 more to catch...

Over the hill *click click* 53/12 Lets go, push, chase chase chase. 40m from the line the 5 in front crossed the finish in their sprint. I was in no mans land with a bit of time to finish and the bunch chasing down the hill in smaller groups, so I did what any D grader in no mans land would do when finishing with his highest placing in a road race yet. I made sure my jersey was nice and straight. zipped all the way up, sat up nice and tall and smiled for the camera as i rolled over the line, 6th...

I'm not gonna lie... I was pretty stoked...

Ed: We were later informed that Mills was very nearly fined by the commissaires. Not for taking his hand off the bars, but for celebration of 5th loser (Dave Morgan, pers comms, 2012)