So I just finished my first Tour of Bright (and probably last..for awhile anyway!) It was exactly as epic and hard as I imagined but I had a lot more fun than I thought I would.
I could not have been any more prepared or trained any harder for this race so went into it knowing that if I got dropped or I came last then so be it because there was nothing else I could have done. That was a pretty good feeling.
About 4 months ago I got wise about how the training I’d been doing, while fun was not going to get me faster or race ready. With time to fix that and two trusty training buddies (@mattunderground and @tim12p) we set about a weekly set of repeats up Monument, Tuesday night worldcup smashfests and plain old nice recovery rides and epic weekend rides. I also had one good ‘proper’ race, and one shocking race.
I’d also like the record to show that @mattunderground and I rode right through winter and out the other side. It was tough and cold and I was so proud of us for doing that.
So now, all prepared and organised I ventured to Bright. I was so excited. I was excited about registering, about putting my number on my bike about reading the race program even though I’d already read it about a hundred times online and committed everything to memory. Thankfully I was also relaxed enough that I even slept okay – pretty weird for me before a race.
Stage 1 started well, rolling through Bright to applause from the locals…I could get used to that! The pace was good, I did momentarily forget about the sprint points and thought the girl next to me was going off the front..errrr. Anyway we rolled along, taking turns and working together when who should we come across at the bottom of Rosewhite Gap but B grade.
I remember I was next to Rach at the time because when we realised we were going to have to go around them I distinctly heard a “oh get f****d!!!”. Anyway we got around them, well some did and I was trying to hang on to that bunch but just, just dropped off before the top of Rosewhite. I descended like a madwoman but just couldn’t get back on (saw 65kmh at one point!). A grade men came past and then B grade chicks again and then a few more from my grade.
I worked so hard with them to try and catch the bunch Rach was in, the turns at the front were killing me until we got closer to Tawonga and I could hold my own on the undulations. I almost got spat out the back a few times but knew it was all over if I couldn’t hang on. Once we reached the turn off to Tawonga Gap I was well and truly on my home turf having previously spent a winters day doing repeats on the damn thing with @mattunderground and I took off. I took great joy in catching a couple of girls from the lead group and finished 6th overall for the stage.
After a dip in the river, some food and a nap I felt completely… rubbish about the time trial. My legs felt crap and I felt terrible after I woke up. Just do it I thought – then you get to go and have a coffee. I was really really hoping to get around 28 minutes, my previous best was about 29 minutes but I hadn’t pushed *that* hard then so thought 28 minutes would be achievable. I am sure we had a head wind out and back…but either way I was stoked with 28.12 – unfortunately this dropped me back to 8th position.
I was rewarded with a swim in the river, then coffee AND cake. Boo-yah!
Rach was by now looking at a podium and we had to trot off to presentations for stage 1 and 2 where she had picked up 2nd and 3rd place respectively. Presentations ended abruptly when a massive storm hit and sent us scurrying home for dinner!
With the thought of climbing Mt Hotham ..sorry RACING up Mt Hotham in my mind I didn’t sleep that well but felt a heap better than Rach looked the next morning. For the first time EVER she looked nervous. I tried not to enjoy it too much (sorry Rach).
All too soon we were at the start line and had a chuckle at the Commissaire telling the B graders to ‘have a race today’ and then we were off and headed out to Harrietville. MOST of us took turns and we were moving along nicely with a few scowls thrown towards a couple of cheeky riders sitting at the back with their feet up (not literally). That’s racing.
I was waiting for the climb to start as I thought the first bit would be interesting, its kicks right up at the start and stays fairly unpleasant for the first 700m I would estimate. Should be enough to shake up the bunch. So I thought.
It was good to hear some heavy breathing going on and lots of clickety clack of gears crunching and for me to enjoy feeling strong (FOR ONCE).
It was short lived as we reached ‘The Meg’ and while most of the field went backwards about six went forwards! Tom Barry was there and shouted at us to stay with them and hang on!
I tried REALLY REALLY hard, but I just couldn’t do it. I did almost throw up so I was trying.
Another girl had also dropped back so I stayed with her for a few kms but slowly she got away but then I noticed another girl had come off the back of the front group. This was by now just at the start of the false flat. I worked to catch them and then probably took it too easy through this section. At the end of the false flat we got caught by 3 other riders but dropped two of them almost immediately. The two girls I’d come through the false flat with disappeared up the road in front of us as we got to CRB Hill and I was surprised to note I hadn’t lost my new riding buddy, and she overtook me on the descent, then I overtook her on the next bit. We had a bit of a chat and she asked if I had enough food which was lovely of her – wait..why was she asking this? Because she was going to unleash all hell on me? Nah, she’s just being nice.
I asked her if she knew exactly where the finish was and she estimated about 4 corners away. That’s 4 corners pointing into the sky so about eleventy billion years away.
..Shortly after that we reached the 1km to go sign and I had a think about how this was the end – the end of a massive year for me doing something I didn’t ever think I could do. While I was having these deep thoughts I was also keeping an eye out for Speedy Long Legs to try and take me before the end. Soon enough the end came and I rounded that corner and crossed the line.
My final placing was 7th and I was pretty happy about that. My goal was to finish in the top 10 and I’d done just that! Awesome!
Rach blew me away again with her strength, when things get tough she just gets on with it and she ended up with 2nd which is phenomenal! B grade for her next year!
A very successful race for both of us!
So now, to the thankyous.
Thanks to Liam who I will still call my coach for putting the idea of me being able to do this race in my head. Also thanks for being an awesome soigneur (yes I had to google it) over the weekend. I couldn’t have done it without you. Thanks for being such great support this year.
To my trusty sidekick Rach, thanks for being an awesome friend and again such great support this year. I hope you spend your $10 on something nice (coffee perhaps?).
Tom Barry at Osteohealth in Albury. Thanks so much for all your advice and help over the past few months. Thanks for checking my bike and I over before the race, body and bike felt perfect for the race.
Pushy’s Bike Warehouse in Albury – you guys really looked after me, especially Ash so thankyou. My bike was flawless.
My main riding buddies @mattunderground and @tim12p, thanks for your patience and hanging out with me all winter and making me work so hard! It paid off big time! Thanks.
The man. Thanks so much for your patience while I had a go at this. And thanks to you & Gus for coming to watch and support me.