Italy, where the real climbing began

It has been a while since my last update. I guess I’ve been having too much fun. I’m not going to say much here, I’ll try and upload some photos instead.

So we arrived at Bormio Tuesday hoping for the same sunny skies that we had in Nice.

Well, that was not going to happen. It was raining.

The Hotel that we were staying at, is where fellow Victorian cyclist Danielle Garden works as a bike guide. It was awesome to have a friendly face to pick us up from the station and spend the next 5 days with. Danielle holds most of the QOMs around these parts and is quite the climber. She had challenged me to beat Emillio, another tour guide up the climbs. I wasn’t so sure.

Our first day started in sun shine and ended in torrential rain and a 30km decent home.

Mortirolo and Gavia

Stelvio and Bormio 2000

130km Valley loop

Gavia

Cancano

It was going to be baptism by fire.

Mortirolo and Gavia, a 100km loop with 3000 m of elevation and a climb that averages 10% for 14km. In terms of climbing, Mortirolo was going to be the most challenging. I was looking forward to it. One of our tour guides, Elmillio, a skinny little climber, that speaks no english, had challenged me to this one. I gave him a head start (only because I needed to take some clothing layers off)., then began the climb. This was the steepest climb I’ve done. Relentless gradient, that made the legs burn every stroke. You only couldhave one speed this climb. I had no gears left and my 28 was being used to its full capacity. I came within about 50m of Emillio with 1km to go. But he heard me coming and turned the gas on. I had nothing. I didn’t catch him. He won.I completed the climb in around 1.07. Not too shabby for my first go. The 2nd climb of the day, Gavia, I did with P. Half way up, the weather turned for the worst and we had a wet 30km decent home.

Stelvio was the next challenge. Arguably the most famous of the climbs in this area, it has 30 something switchbacks, 20km but a more manageable gradient of something like 8%. The cat and mouse challenge that Emillio and I were playing was on again. This time he gave me a 30 second head start. He only caught me as we were going through the tunnels, mid way up the climb, as I was bonking. I still had 10km to go. I got on his wheel, for about 1km. Then I was not. 2/3 of the way up, the gradient flattens off. I must have had my second wind, because I caught Emillio and overtook him. Going into the last 3km I had about 500m on him. He was hunting me down. 20m from the top he overtook me and we sprinted for the line. He won, by a tyre. But yeah, he did give me a head start. I climbed in about 1.25. After the Stelvio, we dragged ourselves up Bormio 2000, just to get some extra kilometers and elevation in.

The next loop we did was just a quiet 130km ride down the Valley, and up a small climb. It was a picturesque little look, where we passed through farm land, apple orchids and small towns whilst meandering along a bike path. Again, the weather turned and we had a pretty miserable 80km in the wet. The final 1/2 was up hill. We were happy to get home.

The other side of the Gavia was next. It was about a 14km climb, at 7% or so, with some tricky 14% sections, but also some flatter sections at 2-3%. This was going to be my chance to beat Emillio. He was feeling tired, and I was feeling ok. We started off together, I quickly rode away from him. And didn’t see him until the end. We sat in the bar, waiting for the others when the weather turned again. Thank god that Danielle had driven up to meet us with our clothes for the decent, instead we got in the van and got a dry lift home. This side of the Gavia is my favorite, it had heaps more to look at, was greener and the gradient  more enjoyable.

Our last day. Danielle’s day off. She took us up the best climb so far. Cancano. We cruised up, taking photos along the way. It was definitely the best climb so far. It was not long. It was not steep. But it was beautiful. Numerous switchbacks, tunnels, a lake and even ruins of a castle or something at the top. The view looked over the switchbacks we just rode up, and Bormio in the very distance. This was only a short day like yesterday, but definitely one of my favorites so far.

I swear that I have ridden more in the wet on holiday here, than I would have in Melbourne! That is for sure.

Huge thanks to Danielle for looking after us this week. What an awesome place to ride your bike, find more information on the hotel we stayed at here.

We’re in Lake Como now, for some supposed R&R. I think we’ll find ourselves some cool places to ride, as well as cool places to relax.

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All photos taken on a GoPro Hero 3+ camera, with LCD screen and all the accessories. #vsport #gopro.

You can follow me on Instagram @lowercasev

Nice, Col Du Madone and an epic adventure

So after spending 6 days in the Pyrenees, it was time for a change in scenery. Purdie and I head off on the train, to Nice. Where we would spend some time riding and relaxing.

It was a huge shock in temperature for us. Nice was about 30 degrees! It was great!

Our first climb to conquer was Col du Madone. Made famous by the one and only Lancy pants. He said he knew he could win the Tour if he rode it in 12 minutes. Well, I certainly didn’t ride it in that time. I rode it in 16 minutes or so, in the searing heat!

Our second adventure was going to take up on a loop, which we loaded into the Garmin with the hope that it would direct us – well, we ended up lost, North of Nice, and forever climbing. Lets just say that once we ran out of food and water and were 50kms in the middle of nowhere, I started to panic a bit. The Garmin was telling fibs and lucky for Strava segment explorer – things could have got ugly.

We made it home anyway and spend the rest of the time at the beach or eating delicious  food near the beach.

Our next stop is Italy. We’re headed to Bormio – to ride the famous Gavia, Mortirolo, Stelvio and many many more.

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All photos taken on my GoPro Hero 3+

 

 

The Tourmalet double (epic)

The Tourmalet Epic

The day started off poorly, one it was raining and two my cleats decided to crack it and would not let me clip in. Our departure was delayed as I conducted some roadside surgery to fix the issue while the others stood out of the rain.

We had a horrible headwind for the 24km to St Marie, a little village at the base of the climb. Mike, P and I groveled our way there. Our legs were still feeling smashed. Not surprisingly really, we have covered quite a few kilometers over the last few days.

So the Tourmalet. Many say that this is the hardest climb, as it is the highest mountain pass in the Pyrenees at 2115m. You can tackle this beast from two sides – one starting from St Marie and the other from Luz-Saint-Sauveur.

They both dish out their fair share pain.

We started our ascent from the St Marie side first.

I was going to give this side a crack and then ride easy with P on the other side. For me, similar to my attempt at Luz Ardiden a few days earlier, I’d say rather than the climb itself – that it was the the conditions broke me the most.

I started off hard – we as hard as I could with smashed legs, with the knowledge that the first 4km were relatively “easy” at an average gradient of about 4%.

Once this easy part was over, the real climbing started. I found it hard to sit in a comfortable rhythm, there was a howling headwind and the rain was not letting up. I was groveling, wondering if i’d actually make it up to the top. I just kept ticking along, forever blinking to get the salty water out of my eyes.

As I climbed higher, it got colder and the rain turned to a sleety hail. I was approaching La Mongie, a ski village about 4km from the summit. My mind was playing games with me, I considered turning around, I was cold, but I pushed on and tried to keep a solid tempo….well that was until I cracked and decided it was time to put my arm warmers on, pulled them out of my pocket only to realise they were inside out. Bugger. I tried a couple of attempts at turning them inside out whilst still keeping tempo but failed. The rain and wind was so strong that I was struggling to take one hand off the handlebars.

I decided that I had to stop.

This was going to ruin my Strava QOM attempt. But, the last thing I wanted was hypothermia! A minute later, I’d turned them inside out, awkwardly heaved them up my wet arms and was rolling again. Wow. In that time my legs has seized up and were screaming.

Only 4km to go. Thanks god.

Visibility was not that great,  I was in the hurt box. That was until a car came past me full of a family. They were supporting their dad who I had passed half way up the climb. They drove along side me yelling “allez allez” as encouragement. I was getting my second (head) wind. I had 1 km to go, they speed off, kicking their son out of the car and the boy proceeded to run along side me until I crossed the line! So cute! He was so happy for me to get over the line. One of the great things you see over here is that kids are so into cycling. On every climb you see boys and girls, 8 years old on massive bikes, climbing faster than you. Its great to see.

Anyway. I reached the summit broken and cold. Questioning whether we would actually descend and climb the opposite side, especially in those conditions. I didn’t enjoy the climb at all. Our support vehicle was at the top with our warm clothes and food. I was the first up, so had first pick of the delicious hot chocolate and banana bread that our hosts had prepared for us.

20 mins later P, Mike and I were all huddled in the car, trying to decide if we would risk the weather and go down, then back up the other side. We would make the decision once we descended, and reached the town of Luz.

We were ready to go and bumped into the one and only Jenny Macca! Such a small world!

The decent of the Luz side was breathtaking. The weather on this side was the complete opposite of the St Marie side. The sun was out and there was a crisp, blue sky. I would say that this descent rivals Col du Aubisque in terms of beauty. Because of the change in conditions, the decision was made that we would go back up. This side was slightly longer that the first, and with 100m more of elevation gain. We were still feeling smashed, so we rode together, taking it easy, taking photos and just taking it in.

I’d highly recommend climbing this side of the Tourmalet over the St Marie side. Although less popular, it is definitely the most beautiful.

We got to the top, navigating rogue sheep along the way, and descended back into the cloud on the St Marie side, starting our journey home. 24km home, with a downhill tail wind. Thank god! After 100km and two sides of the Tourmalet, I was not sure if i’d actually make it home.

We stopped off in a little town called Bangeres where we bought some cheese, ham and a baguette and proceeded to demolish our little picnic whilst sitting on a pot plant out the front of the Patisserie! That baguette was the best thing we’ve eaten all week!

Well that was the best way to end an epic week here in the Pyrenees. 123km, 3400m elevation, 6 hours in the saddle. Off to Nice next for some sun, and then to Bormio in Italy for some more climbing action.
Can’t wait!

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Picturesque Col du Soulor and Col d’Abisque

Today was BY FAR, the best day we have had so far. The view from the Col du Soulor, coupled with the descent and climb to Col d’Aubisque was just magical. The prettiest, most spectacular view I have ever seen. No photo or video could ever do it justice. We had the most perfect weather. Compared to the miserable last few days, todays blue skies were welcomed.

So our day was going to go like this: ride to Argeles-Gazost, then from there start the 20km climb to the top of the Soulor. From the top of the Soulor, we climb 9km to the Aubisque. We then would descend, then navigate our way to Col de Boreres – a short and sharp 4km pinch. There we would make our way home, via Lourdes and the holy water.

The group all rode to Argeles together, then Mike, P and I would head off on another adventure ourselves. Epic it was in the end.

The Soulor climb was tough 20km, 1/2 of it is a mild gradient, the other 1/2 ranges from 6-14%. It hurts. I wanted to do a quick time, so went from the gun. About 12km in, I encountered a tractor. I wanted to pass it, but the old guy driving turned around to me and said something to me in French and pointed at the back. I think he meant “get on”, so I rode up behind the tractor and sat it its slip stream, trying to get a draft. I lasted about 600m of him cheering me on before I blew off the back and he kept tootling on into the distance – waving as he got further away. LOL. I kept grinding away.

That was until I passed a old guy carrying a backpack with about 4km to go. He said to me in French “competition, competition, competition” (imagine a french accent). So the race was on, we started swapping turns, until the sprint finish at the top. Hilarious, because at the end he asked me – I think – how old I was. I said 2 – 6, he said 6 – 2. What an absolute legend. Thats one thing about cycling, everyone is on the same page. We appreciate the effort that goes into riding bikes, especially up HC climbs.

We made our way down the most picturesque decent that I have ever seen. It was a track, on the ledge of a mountain, with endless views, cows on the side of the road, tunnels to pass through. It was hard to keep my eyes on the road, I just wanted to look around! The climb to the Aubisque was tame, P and I ticked up leisurely, enjoying the view. We soaked in the view and the novelty TDF giant bikes at the top and made our way back down the mountain.

We headed home via Boreres, and descended a fast and open loop that took us back to Argeles for lunch. By this time, we were starving. We smashed a pizza each and got on our bikes to head home via Lourdes, to see the Grotto and the holy water. If you want to read about it here , it is actually quite depressing. People that know me, know that I hate crowds. So we got out of Lourdes pretty quick.

By the time we got back, we were smashed crabs, dehydrated, sun burned and exhausted. Let’s just say that the much welcomed blue skies took their tolls.

We ended up doing 6hrs, 2800m vert over 130km, we did not get lost, we got some sun, saw some views and had the best day out on the bike.

Where is the food!

You can check my Strava file out here. You can follow me on Instagram @lowercasev. All photos taken on GoPro Hero 3+ black edition. #gopro #vsport

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April obsessions

It’s been a while since I’ve posted my monthly obsessions… so here we go, I’m back on the bandwagon!

Enjoy!

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Muesli – This one is particularly delicious, from my 2nd favorite café Palate 

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My new 4 Shaw merino arm warmers and socks, get yours here

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My new Alice McCall dress. I rarely buy anything that isn’t cycling related. This is one item!

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Vegemite on rice cakes, with tomato. Delicious.

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I get my nails shellaced fortnightly. This is my latest colourway.

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My new TT bike thanks to Total Rush. I looooovvvveeeee it!

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My new cat Vans. I love cats. Sooo cute!

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Icy sticks. These ones are made with yoghurt. Also a fave of mine!

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Wunderunder pants by Lululemon. Perfect for mooching around in.

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#Foreverbuttphotos

The year that was…club champs to club champs

It has been a hectic few weeks, post Tour of Murray. I have barely raced since then… just been concentrating on getting life admin done, riding my bike and riding my bike. Actually, who am I kidding, I’ve just been riding my bike…So I must apologise for the tardiness of this update.

~

Over the past two weeks I have been reflecting a lot about the year that was…Surprisingly, there was a time before #pinkwasmycolour, before I lived in Melbourne, before Napoleon, before lift selfies, and before I raced bikes.

It was this time last year that I “got on my bike and raced it” for the first time, at the 2012 Hawthorn Club Championships. Thinking about this race makes me cringe a little. Mostly at the fact that I had no idea what I was getting myself in to. I mean, I had never raced before. I had not trained, ever. I was sooooo not prepared. Ha. My legs were blown off during that race. I came last, or thereabouts. Though slightly traumatised, I came away from that race determined and set myself two goals.

1. To not have my legs blown off again and;
2. To race C Grade, Tour of Bright

Both goals that at the time, seemed somewhat unachievable.

So, effectively, with the help of my super coach, those two things are what I’ve been working towards.  For those of you that have been following this blog and my cycling will know, it has been quite the year. I’ve had some wins. Some losses. Gone up some grades. Got dropped. Got back on. Got on the front. Got off the front. Climbed mountains. Learned a lot…And… had a heap of fun in the process. Along with a lot of hard work… and hundreds of kilometers, I’ve had some great opportunities come my way too.

I guess it all started with joining Hawthorn Cycling Club and through their Women’s Development Program my love for cycling spiralled, Total Rush have played an important role in that they continually supported me as a development rider and ambassador; and having the opportunity to race the National Road Series with Cycling Victoria Women’s Development Squad NRS team has made me push my limits and learn a lot about racing with the big girls in the process. Some amazing people have come into my life too, as mentors, friends and partners. They have and are contributing so positively to my life. I’m not sure why I feel compelled to tell you all this, but I guess I just want you all know that I appreciate everyone in my life… and that you can achieve your goals that you set.

Two weeks ago I raced the 2013 Hawthorn Club Championships. I did not come last. I came first! I could not believe it. By no means am I an amazing cyclist. I won’t be going to Europe or riding in the Giro Rosa. I’ve got about 100 watts and a lot of experience to gain. …and as the super coach says “patience grasshopper”.

Get on your bike and ride it, and most importantly, have fun whilst doing it.

P.S. I have achieved my gols I set last year…. Though my legs continually are blown off each and every time I race. But, I know now it is what makes you stronger, more determined and a better cyclist. And you know what…I am riding at the Tour of Bright… time in B grade.

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2012 Club Champs

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2013

Welcome to B grade. There are no mountains, but we’re going to blow you away, then bury you in a riverside grave.

I have had the fantastic opportunity to write some guest post for The Climbing Cyclist ‘s blog. Click here to read the post. It is the same as the one below, just so that you know….

I’m new to cycling so most of my cycling goals are small. But one of my big goals for 2013 was to be promoted from C to B grade by the end of the season. The end of the season. I was promoted on Wednesday. I think it will be one of those moments that I’ll remember forever.

I was sitting at my desk, at about 8:30am, and bing bing, a text message. Someone was congratulating me on my promotion. Huh?! I had read the final start list the night before but that had obviously been changed. I hadn’t been informed, until the text message came through, which was fine, because I was stoked! I had reached my end-of-year goal, only four months into the year. But, I also felt as if I had all eyes watching me this weekend, questioning my elevation to B grade.

I have been riding well, feeling strong, and I’ve got some good results under my belt. I can understand why I was promoted, but I’m a stress-head so with news of the promotion came a heap of worry. For two reasons:

  1. My past two road races (my only road races) finished at the top of mountains. I like mountains. The Tour of South West is flat. Do I like the flat?
  2. My race prep was stalled. In the lead-up to the tour I had a week off the bike after injuring my knee. So I had not ridden my bike for the whole week.

Was I really ready for B grade? Fast forward to Friday.

I sat in the car on the way to Warrnambool with my super coach’s voice ringing in my ears: “You’ve nothing to lose, so stop stressing and just go and ride your bike.” My fellow Hawthorn Cycling Club (HCC) B Graders had been offering me reassurance and advice. They were just what I needed; a reality check. It was true, I had nothing to lose. I was just going to get on my bike and ride it, with my friends.

Stage one. The road race.

I’ve done a road race before, twice. Up a mountain. Not on the flat, so a 65km road race on the flat was a daunting prospect. The race started at Wangoom, 15 minutes from Warrnambool where we were to do four laps of a 17km course. The profile showed a few pinchy “little” climbs, one of which had QOM points on offer. A tiny hill, phew; something familiar!

The warm up was fast, because we arrived later than planned. Before I knew it, we were leaping off the trainers and I was on the start line with 15 other riders. We were racing.

We hit the road and hit a wall, of wind. My lord, the wind. I don’t like it. Who does? It pushes lightweights like me around like a schoolyard bully. I tried to find shelter in the bunch, but it was hard; everyone else had the same idea. I kept HCC ladies in sight — they were my “great wall” windbreakers.

It was my first B grade race and I could see that the dynamics were very different to C grade. I knew the HCC ladies were going to try and shake things up a bit throughout the race. I had to be alert to what was going on. Bam. They went for a break early. But the bunch responded and chased.

I got the feeling early on that these B grade ladies knew exactly what was going on. They were tuned in, something that I wasn’t. I just needed to keep up. I was feeling a little out of my depth. Was the wind getting stronger?

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Photo Credit: Jo Upton Photography

Before I knew it we were 7km into the loop. The QOM – a 700m climb at 3.8%. My HCC ladies rode with me, one alongside and one at the front, protecting me from the fierce headwind. We had a loose plan to get me up and it was coming together, or so we thought.

We were powering along with the bunch. I stood up out of the saddle to sprint and … I was a kite caught in the wind. I think my bike actually lifted off the ground for a second. I felt like my lycra was catching the wind like a sail, but I was not on a boat. The wind was ferocious and coming straight at us, up the road and over the crest of the hill – right into us.

I sat back down, shocked. I could not pedal like this, being blown backwards. I felt defeated while the others powered up grabbing QOM points. The race rolled on and we continued to battle the wind. I tried to move around, to get out of the wind, but I always seemed to end up near the front, or in the wind. Before I knew it, we were going for sprint points — lap one was over.

The following three laps played out much the same: crosswind, headwind, QOM, crosswind, headwind, crosswind, sort-of tailwind, sprint. The HCC ladies continued to shake things up, trying to make breaks, and trying to get me up that QOM without me being blown sky high. No matter what we tried, it did not work. The bunch always responded and always stayed together.

Road Race

I don’t know whether it was that my legs just didn’t have the power to get up, whether the wind was throwing me around too much, or whether I just going too early. Perhaps the first of those — I was definitely outclassed on the power stakes. But it was fun trying to have an impact.

The last lap was fast, we all stayed together and I rolled over the line 7th, behind Grace Phang (SKCC), Nicole Schneller (SKCC) and Maartje Munsterman (SKCC).

Click here to see my Strava file from stage 1.

Stage 2. The Individual Time Trial.

ITT 1

Fast forward 3 hours and it was time for the individual time trial. My first ITT. The wind had picked up, if that was even possible. Riders were taking deep ‘section’ wheels off their TT bikes. The organisers had done away with the start ramp because of the wind. I was worried.

There was going to be a crosswind, tailwind, short headwind up a climb and then a crosswind home. I was looking around for bricks; I needed something to weigh me down. Collectively, my bike and I were way too light for 65km/h gusts. How was I going to stay upright?

While other riders were taking TT bars and deep-dish wheels off their bikes I was putting them on (well, the Total Rush mechanic was). Was this a good idea in the wind? Coupled with the fact I’d never ridden with TT bars before, and the fact the semi-deep-dish back wheel was bound to catch the wind. I was probably mad. Was I going to stay upright, or end up with the cows in the paddock? Oh well, at least my Amira looked fast, even if I wasn’t.

I was pumped. I sat on the trainer. My legs felt good. The TT position, which I had never ridden in, felt good. My goal: focus on riding a constant tempo, even up the slight climb.

So, there I was, on my pimped-out bike, being held up on the start line. 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 … I was off. Once I passed the shelter of the start line the crosswind hit. I gripped those TT bars tighter than before. Stay upright. Focus. Pedal.

ITT 2

I had broken the 12.7km into three chunks, so I could manage my energy levels. I kept glancing down at my Garmin to check the distance, speed and cadence. Things were going well. I was hitting my targets. The next time I looked down, my cadence had dropped out! I could not believe it. What was I going to do now?

Ignore it. I didn’t need cadence anyway. Just keep peddling. Don’t grind. Pedal. Then I heard a noise, a loud noise. I glanced right and I was being overtaken by … a harvester! Only in the country could I be doing a TT and a harvester overtakes, blowing hay and what-not into my face. I stopped laughing and closed my mouth — it was too dry already to be filled with hay.

I turned the corner and the tailwind came, finally. I knew this was where I needed to make up some time. I picked up a heap of speed … and managed to overtake the rider who was let off before me. About 1km later the pinchy little 7% climb rudely appeared and there I was climbing and grinding in the saddle, into the headwind. I heard a familiar Garmin beep; I was being overtaken by Grace Phang (SKCC), riding faster than ever! She rolled over the crest of that hill, and faded into the distance.

Before too long there was only 1km to go. I rode hard and then I was done. Spent. Finito. The taste of lung was in my mouth and my chest hurt. Job done.

The results were predictable, with Grace Phang (SKCC) first, Carolyn Phillips (Southern Masters) second, Elizabeth Douueal (Warrnambool) third … then me… 6th. What?! I was absolutely stoked with my time (23:03) considering I’ve never done a TT before.

Why did my cadence drop out? Because the magnet blew around the opposite way in the wind!

Click here to see my Strava file from stage 2.

Stage three. The crit.

Crit hill

The criterium course took us around a local cemetery which was rather spooky. It was also well played by the organisers because they didn’t have far to go to bury riders after the race! We rocked up to the course early, set up the Hawthorn Cycling Club tent and trainers and started our warm up.

I was feeling relatively calm about the crit. Unlike the road race and ITT, I had a few more C grade crit races under my belt and knew a little more about crit dynamics. In saying that, I was still worried I wouldn’t be able to keep up. One thing I learned from day one of the Tour was that these ladies were strong, and they knew what was going on.

The crit was going to be hard. From the start/finish line there was a short 70m straight, a sharp left, then a 7.5% climb for 300m that might have played to my advantage. With uphill comes down hill, and the crit course veered down into a sharp left, into a fast straight, a sharp left and then a slight incline back to the start/finish line.

The course was only 1.2km in length, but it was pretty technical and could get very fast. The nature of the course meant that the climbers could tackle that hill, and the sprinters could make up ground on the straights. And that is exactly what happened.

Crit 1 cemetary

The race started and we were immediately thrown into the climb. It was not that bad. Imagine the Hawthorn teardrop with a little more pinch and about 100m longer. It was manageable. My heart was jumping out my mouth as we whipped around the course, my legs were burning … but I thought to myself “I’m keeping up, just keep peddling. In fact, why am I on the front again?”

The race had a strange sense of rhythm to it: the climb, the descent, the straight, the corner, repeat. We followed this rhythm for the next 30 minutes.

Two laps to go and I was on the front again. Mistake number one. Bell lap. I turned the corner and I went to get out of my saddle and the gasket blew. Mistake number two. I was rolling backwards instead of bounding uphill with the rest of the field. I watched as the bunch rolled over the crest of the hill and I had to pull something from nowhere and pedal faster. Again, I laughed at myself; “this is what blowing a gasket feels like.”

I gained some speed on the downhill and managed to get over the line. I was probably last; I’m not sure. I was spent.

Click here to see my Strava file from stage 3.

The time on the trainer post crit gave me time to reflect on the weekend’s racing. I tried my hardest in the road race, managed to hold on with the bunch, but could have stayed out of the wind more. I rode the ITT well, considering how windy it was. But far out, that crit broke me, I have never had that feeling before. The blow-out feeling.
Trainers
Photo Credit: Cycling Victoria

I sat on that trainer battling embarrassment about going backwards up the hill and knowing that I should have managed myself a little better. But that is racing and I will take it as a lesson for next time.

I can’t describe how happy I am with my overall performance at the Tour of South West. I placed 6th in the general classification. I could not have asked for a better result. I am in the right grade. Why, was I so worried? I survived the flatter course, my knee held up and I kept up. I will take notes for next time: think position, oh, and manage myself better.

But this Tour was about far more than just me. This weekend represented something very special for women’s cycling. Participation. Eighty-five women entered to race the Tour, which is very impressive indeed. Regardless of results, we did the most we could for women’s cycling this weekend, we participated. We showed that we want to race; that we want to be treated as equal with the men. This weekend, we were.

I’m looking forward to the Northern Combine Women’s Series this season. The first race is a crit on National Boulevard on May 11. Come on ladies, get on to it.

I’m so lucky to have the people in my life that I do. The people that encouraged me to take up cycling in the first place, my mentors at Total Rush and at Hawthorn Cycling Club, my coach Bec Domange and my fabulous friends. They have all contributed in one way or another to get me to where I am now, reaching my personal goals and racing with women from around Victoria and Australia.

And what an introduction to B grade! I rode hard, into the wind, around a cemetery and then blew a gasket … and learnt a lot! Until next time, get a bike and ride it, into the wind, with a bunch of like-minded women. It will change your life.

PS: I must apologise to the rider who I snot-sprayed on during the road race. I’m really, really sorry.

***You can follow me on Strava, Twitter and on Instagram. Click here to see the full results from all grades in the 2013 Tour of the South West. All photos courtesy of JXP Photography, except where noted.***