Saturday, 23 July 2011


Melbourne to Ballarat:
Though I knew some of the riders I was a little intimidated by the fact I was in the 9 minute bunch. I didn't want to be dropped and have to roll up the hwy solo, I really didn't want to have to catch the sag wagon. Effectively that was the only goals I set, to work, to hurt, to get there in one piece.

Off the start things were steady. A lack of wind meant we were rolling turns in the high 40km/h zone. I worked through the flat sections until Bacchus Marshish but up the first part of the ascent of Pentland Hills I was struggling to come through. My heart rate was bouncing around my VO2 limit and so I stopped coming through.


After Pykes resevoir I started to work a bit again, but on the hill up towards Gordon I droped out to the back. Not long after that the chopping block caught us. They were a massive much, containing everyone who'd started between us and them. As a bunch (ie the 9 minute bunch) we kicked and merged ourselves into a rolling colossus. The pace was 5-6km/h hour faster than we had been going and my heart rate was 10-20 beats lower.


Then scratch caught us and everyone let the guys who get their bikes for free do the work, there was no way in hell I was coming through for a turn, it was now their race to control.

Up one of the small risers along the hwy near Ballarat, both my hip flexors spasmed, no that's not quite the right word, it wasn't full cramps, more like the tightest muscles I've ever experienced. I stood up to try and shift the load to different muscle groups, to stretch them out, really anything that I could to keep my bike moving forward and to stay in contact with the bunch. I must have lost 30 places by the time I crested the hill but I was still on the bunch. I shook my quads and gave the flexors a quick knuckling and resumed trying to hold a good bunch position.

It was awesome fun, watching elite riders jockeying for position, the accelerations as people (fruitlessly) try to get away from the inevitable bunch sprint. I had no intention of kicking for the line and getting in the way of those vying for fastest time honours, but I didn't want to get dropped like last year. That seems like a theme for my race this year. Avoiding the fate of previous attempts.

So there we have it, I survived to the end but didn't do anywhere near as many turns as I had imagined in my head. I still got a hard workout, but maybe not as hard as I could. Next time it would be good to be a strong rider of the 9 minute bunch rather than just an occasional aid.

D: 94.8km
A: 845m

PMPW: 94kg

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