With happy memories of last years race I didn’t find it hard to talk myself into entering this year. We have family nearby, its a 2hr drive from home and you get to climb a mountain. It really is the perfect race for me.
Fuelled up by a spicy meatball and pasta dish whipped up by my not so evil stepmother-in-law which I ate a LOT of and of course an enormous serving of my usual Vigor bircher muesli this morning it was a wonder my bike would even move when I got on it!
Those cheeky devils at cycling victoria brought the start time for our race forward which actually worked better because I had less time to stand around being cold and nervous! I shouldn’t complain because we actually had a ‘c grade’ this year. Although there were not enough of us so B & C got lumped in together. This worked out well for me later on though!
Speaking of cold. It was FRICKING FREEZING. Snow was falling at Mt Buller overnight and my usual habit of over organising was a bit of a fail. I still had the choice of fingerless or regular gloves and a windvest but most chicks were wearing toe covers or booties AND a wind vest and gloves. Knowing that I get HOT when I ride I went for fingerless gloves and no wind vest and crossed my fingers and toes (in my uncovered shoes!)
Best decision ever because I’d pushed my arm warmers down after the first 10kms and was a cool magool!
So, the race starts finally and unlike last year its fairly civilised rolling out along the undulations towards Merrijig. I was nervous about a push on a downhill like last year where I *almost* got dropped so despite saying I would take it easy on the way out I hung out close to the front and rolled turns. It was fine and I didn’t feel like I was overextending myself at all. I was debating about when to have my 2nd gel, now or wait until Mirimbah? Nah do it now in case anything happens!
Lucky I was up there and lucky I had that gel because a few kms past Merrjig, Deb Richards (Hawthorn CC B grade) put the foot down and took myself and four other C grade chicks with her. Deb made it clear from the outset we were going to work or we could leave. I chose to work as we’d made a decent gap on the bunch and it was my assessment that there was definitely some decent climbers back there.
We raced into Sawmill Settlement and before I knew it we were at Mirimbah and the toll gate which signals the start of the climb, and then I started dropping off a bit. Still, with a sizeable gap on the bunch I wasn’t too concerned and ended up just pushing hard as the climb was young and anything could happen up in front of me!
About halfway along I noticed a chick creeping up behind me…dammit!!! Ah could be a B grader…they *should* technically be in front! It was not to be and Verita (Total Rush) a mate of Manny Marasco who I’d met at the crit the day before and sized up as being a good climber flew past me. I told her the others were ‘just up the road..a few corners’. Not sure how helpful that was!
Not long after that Grace Phang came past and I reassured her she was in 2nd place in B Grade and got a rest on her wheel for a bit. Before long she turned on the afterburners and was off, always *just* out of reach.
I’d been managing my nutrition fine, probably should have packed a spare gel but I’d had one right at the start, one at Merrijig and was now starting to feel a bit flat so had another one, leaving me one spare for the last few kms.
By now I was past Lower Tyrol and in the last 4kms and able to look down and see…no one. Boo yah! Again, lucky because I was starting to feel a bit crampy in both my quads, ah have another gel and some more drink I was *almost* there. The last few corners were pretty tough but with Tony Reekman lurking around Hells Corner taking photos I hoped I looked like I was having fun.
Then there I was getting waved at by The Man and cheered on by Tom and then I was across the line ready to hand my bike off and cough and splutter for a bit.
THEN..I realised how freaking cold it was up there. Quick change into warm clothes and then handing back the transponder and race numbers and we were outta there!
So. A good race. Taking a punt on going with the break paid off as Strava is already showing faster climbers who were behind me. All those Tuesday night world cups paid off!
Very, very happy with myself. I know where I need to improve and I’m comfortable with that.
Also, a special mention has to go to Lisa Barry winning A Grade against some very strong climbers. Excellent team work by her fellow BSS teamie, the Irish Clare Dallat on St Patrick’s Day! Guinness for all post race!
Until next time,