I’ve never participated Amy’s Gran Fondo. I’m not sure why. About 5000 other people do ever year. It is touted as the best Gran Fondo in the world. On the weekend I had the opportunity to participate in something better. Amy’s Otway Classic. The favourite Gran Fondo of many was turned into a National Road Series race. It took advantage of the totally closed roads that the Gran Fondo allowed, giving us the best racing conditions of the NRS. Specialized Securitor had a 4 woman team, and the other big teams of the NRS were represented too.
My preparation was good. That was until I had a minor mishap on the Friday morning where out on a cruisy spin, I managed to put myself on the ground, taking some skin off and landing on my elbow, hard. No the GoPro was not involved. I spent the rest of the day strapped to a bag of peas, hoping that I had not broken anything. I kept telling myself that it was going to be ok, but I could tell that my arms lack of weight baring ability, that this elbow was going to be the issue.
So my partner Purdie and I drove down to Lorne that afternoon and we settled in with my team mate Claire and Bec our Super DS at our accommodation. Our accommodation was conveniently located at the top of Everest, a 200m crawl at 19% was not ideal for both cars and bikes.
Saturday morning I woke to a semi functioning hand and very tender elbow, but to my surprise, an incredibly sore body. It was the weirdest feeling, like I had been doing weight sessions all week, all my muscles were seized up and sore. Somehow I had a severe case of DOMS slowly emerging. I could barely walk down the stairs. That aside, a short spin was what the doctor ordered and we took the opportunity use our pro hours license to spin to Wye River for coffee. Ignore the elbow, spin the legs – that was all that was going through my head as we cruised along the Great Ocean Road. The scenery along here is amazing, we soaked up the sights with the knowledge that on Sunday, and we would be too busy chewing our handlebars to look up.
Lucky my GoPro trigger finger still was working!
It was nice having the opportunity to relax before race day. Usually it is a mega rush, with a lot of running around. This time Claire and I had time for a Aussie rules style dip in the ocean ate some delicious food and explored Lorne waiting for Cass, Jaz and Zeke to arrive.
5:30pm came around quickly and it was soon time to blow the DOMs out of the legs and compete in Amy’s Wall, a 120m uphill sprint run by Cycling Tips. I wasn’t sure whether it was going to be a great idea considering how my body was feeling, but I wanted to show my support and boost the women’s numbers. It was sure a spectacle, with spectators lining the course cheering and people dressed up as super heroes. Lets just say that my effort was a bit of a fail. A combination of busted elbow, poor start and poor gear selection saw my chances of winning some cash get blown to pieces. Peta Mullens took the cash.
That was that, time to head home and head to bed. Because we had a 5am wake up to look forward to and a 7:30am race start.
We woke to this. Not a bad start to the day!
The race took us along the Great Ocean Road, then up the Skenes Creek Climb, down (ish) around to Deans Marsh, finishing on the top of Benwerrin. It was a route that I have done in the past, only the reverse. But one thing was for sure, there was not much opportunity for rest, as although you climb to the top of Skenes Creek, you still have to climb out of there, the decent after that is only short, but fast. Something to look forward too. Our race plan was simple, Jaz and Claire were going to help us get to the base of Skenes and Cass and I were to try and get ourselves over Skenes with the front group.
A relatively uneventful 40km began, hun “relatively”. It was quite uneventful in that we were just cruising along, responding to attacks and enjoying the rollercoaster terrain. It was eventful in that were ended up doging the photographer’s camera which he smashed onto the road in front of the peloton and navigating around the crashed police motorbikes. We were preparing ourselves for Skenes Creek Rd climb, which was going to be the maker or breaker of the race. When my concentration lapsed and I found myself at the back, Jaz did a stellar job of moving me back up.
9km at average 5%, it did just that. As predicted, Ellen from Holden attacked, attacked, then attacked again and got away. A short time later, Ruth joined her. The 15 or so of us were left chasing, uphill, trying to get them back. I was absolutely in the hurt box. But I had my team mate Cass with me and she provided some good encouragement to snap me out of any negativity. I really didn’t want to get dropped, so just dug deep and began the process of slowly chewing through my handlebars.
By the time we got to the top of Skenes Creek, the pair up the road had a whopping 3 minutes on us. The race was not over there we still had to climb out of there, we weren’t treated to a decent until we reached Forrest. I managed to clock 86km/hr on that one. I’ve never reached that speed. Ever! Somewhere between Skeenes and Forrest, Bec Locke (Liv/Shimano) had attacked in an attempt to bridge over the Ruth and Ellen. Not long after, Bridie (Total Rush) bridged to Bec and we slowly, slowly, slowly worked to reel them in.
Suzuki Brumby’s had four team mates represented in our group and were getting organised trying to chase down the girls up the road. When the time blew out to about 4 minutes, that idea seemed impossible. Before we knew it, we were at Deans Marsh, and about to start the climb to Benwerrin. This climb feels like it has more down than up, with the last 2km pinching up to a steep gradient. This is where my legs decided to implode. As Bec attacked with about 1km to go, I managed to yell some encouragement to Cass and watch everyone else dart up the hill to the finish line as I began to go backwards. Cass finished in 7th, her best result of the season. I finished 16th, followed by Jaz and Claire in the 2nd group. I was cooked.
Looking back, I did as much as I could in the race and stoaked to get Cass over the line in 7th. On the drive home I ate a packet of sour cream and chives rice thins, and then fell asleep mouth open. A quick trip to the hydro pool for some recovery, a massive dinner and I was asleep at 9:00pm.
The team did a great job overall and we’re all looking forward to Canberra Tour this coming weekend. Let’s hope the DOMs I’m suffering subside and my elbow heals itself quick smart, because Canberra Tour is going to be HARD.