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 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)

Race Report - Jack McDonough Memorial - Pastoria

Words by Dingus Dave

For the first Northern Combine road race of the season, Mother Nature had turned on the goods; glorious sunshine and just a little wind. With another baby due in a few weeks, this would be my only road race for the season, and a slot in C Grade with Captain Duggan had me a little nervous. Since finishing up track racing a few months back the fitness had declined noticeably, and the quality of bikes, kits and legs assembled at the start line had even Duggan concerned.

We rolled out, and in usual style for the first race of the season the pace was hardly more than walking. I started to get worried that D Grade would catch us. But inevitably a few guys got impatient and tore off around the outside, Duggan included. I got stuck behind a wheel, and before I knew it I was in last wheel. I thought back to my last C Grade race, also held out here at Pastoria, when I was unceremoniously dumped out the back of the bunch on the flat. Damn, I wasn't gonna let that happen again, and moved my way up to join Duggan in the front third of the bunch.

We spent the rest of the race pretty close to one another, and never too far away from the action. The first ascent up Bald Hill was reasonably calm. A few small attacks, including one from Brunswick junior James Payne, had been brought back without too much fuss. A full-on team attack came on the small pinch a few kilometers into the 2nd lap, as three of the Boomchika lads flew from the rear and put the hammer down on the short climb. Thankfully I was sitting about 4th wheel when this happened, and concentrated on staying calm as a few blokes went past me. Had I been at the back, there's a fair chance I may have popped right there.

But nothing was really getting away, as the bunch eased into the headwind on the back of the course. Second time up Bald Hill and the pace was noticeably hotter. I could hear Atkins (from the fine blog next to me breathing heavily. As we crested, I counted about 14 guys in front of me. I turned around to check out the damage, and it was just ones and twos  all over the road. A few guys latched back on during the descent, and so it was down to about 20 riders for the last of three laps.

I didn't see how, but a Bike Gallery guy had got off the front, and had a few hundred metres gap. As we approached the small pinch where the Boomchika lads had attacked on the 2nd lap, I was near the back of the bunch and so moved up to the front to cover any moves. The Freedom Machine rider, who I think was the same guy that smashed the St Kilda D Grade crit a few weeks back in a two-man breakaway that held off the chasing bunch for the best part of 40 minutes, was putting the hammer down. I put in a few big ones and followed him off the front of the bunch as we descended the other side. He was about 20 metres in front of me, with the bunch another 30 or so metres further back. I considered going on the attack, but thought better of it, and sat up to wait for the bunch.

So we now had Bike Gallery out front by a few hundred metres on his own, with The Freedom Machine in no-mans land and the bunch happy to let them dangle out in the slight head wind with 15km or so to go. That was until Duggan had had enough. I was still near the front, about 5th wheel, when the Duggan steam-train came past shouting something about legs. He went to the front, put his head down, and started to bring the two boys back. It was single file as Duggan put the hurt on. Soon, he was off the front by 30m, Boonen style. I was clearly failing in my role as Terpstra trying to hold his wheel.

We took the final left hander, and it was job done by Duggan with the race all back together. There's a small climb just before you get to the Bald Hill climb proper, and Payne, who must be all of 50kg, attacked here and strung the bunch out. I moved up past Duggan, but I was hurting. As we got to the final climb of Bald Hill I was in about 8th wheel, with Duggan not far behind me. One last effort, I told myself. Payne attacked again, with two guys trying to go with him. I tried to follow them, and moved past a few guys into 4th on the road. They were pulling away from me slightly, but I wanted to put distance into the bigger guys behind before the final descent to the line.

I could feel one guy on my wheel, but was pretty sure we had put a gap into the main bunch. The guys in front were getting away. Barely more then 200m left, and I was starting to die. A slow, inevitable death, as my legs gave up. 50m to the descent, and a group of 6, including Duggan, came past me. I should have caught a wheel, but I was gone. Super effort by Duggan to haul his sprinters frame up that hill, after doing a mountain of work earlier that lap.

I was stuck in no mans land on the the descent to the finish. One or two guys out front, a group of about 6 chasing them, then me on my own and another 6 or so 50m back. I tried, but couldn't make up any ground, and got caught by one or two riders in the final 50m.

What's wrong with this picture?

Duggan got up for fourth, and I rolled in just outside the top ten. Top day, capped off by a few brews at the pub for presentations and a pie from the fabulous Kyneton bakery.

Friday, April 13, 2012

TDR Junior Development Programme...

Needless to say, Audrey was pretty excited about her new kit....

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Calm before the storm...

Right - HEAPS has been happening and continues to happen around here. We'll start with a bit of a round-up of what's been going down.

Coburg CC had their last crit for the season at the National Boulevarde and TDR turned up in force for close out a fun summer season. A four man breakaway including Preston's Mick Read slipped away from the B-grade bunch, taking out the win. In C-grade, Greg Hogan got up for the win with Paul, Brad and TDR's very own Mills making up 4 of the top 5 places. Isaac Gibbs won out his second ever crit race and will be one to lookout for next summer!

Duggan doing his best to tuck in...

Kent closing gaps...

Mills presumably opening gaps... 

Paul on a Sunday cruise! 

Many thanks to CCC for holding such hard, fast and safe crit racing all summer!

Duggan headed down to Harrison Street and the Brunswick outdoor velodrome following the crit for the Brunswick's Easter 100. 200 lap points race. Sprints every 10. Whilst a long time in the saddle, particularly when having to repeatedly chase and take laps with Coburg hard-man Glynn Matthey, it was great training.

Duggan's total for the day: 160+km. 100km+ racing.

Whilst track season is finished, BWK continues to race on a Tuesday night throughout the winter. We'll be trying to get along as much as possible to keep the speed in the legs for... ROAD SEASON!

Yep. It's that time again and it starts this weekend with the first Northern Combine race at Pastoria, and the CSV Open at the Mt Baw Baw Classic.

TDR have riders in both events with Duggan, Hogan and Mills at Pastoria, and Kent, D'alfonso and HK's own Soayer, heading out to tackle Mt. Baw Baw. It currently looks like this:

The boys will be hoping some of that snow burns off before Sunday...

We'll be trying to continue our race reporting as best as possible. If you see us at any of the races over the winter, come up and say g'day! The more faces we know, the better we can describe your Cancellara-esque attack in the cross-winds at Newham in D-grade!