Monday, 19 March 2012

Mt Buller Road Race. March 18th 2012.

700+ riders, pre-register the night before, electronic timing, event photographers on course, and more corporate sponsorship than you could poke a spoke at. That was the recreational ride, the 2012 SCODY High Country Cycle Challenge. From all reports it was a great success.

On the racing side of things, while being referred to as 'professional' by MC Rob Gaylard, we didn't have the same luxuries as the rec riders. Our 8:30am start was delayed for 20mins+ due to a 30min line up for on-the-day registration, no electronic timing, a grading "system" that had national level team riders in B Grade, and zero detail about where the actual finish was.... was it at the clock tower, around the corner, or up some footpath that people had to contend with last year? In my honest opinion, the racing is the red headed stepchild of the Tour de Flavour.

A little more on the grading.... There was a limit of 60 riders per grade so CV/someone had to perform some rider shuffling. I'm not sure exactly why a limit was put on the race fields when there were 100s in the rec ride.... National level teams such as the VIS, Drapac, Search2Retain had riders were placed in B Grade. Last years winner of B Grade was also sitting pretty again in B Grade along with other previous B Grade Open hilly race winners. This isn't a stab at the riders, they're absolute guns, most had even entered A Grade but were demoted. Everyone was questioning was what the f*ck was up with the handicapping? It wasn't a case of educated shuffling to make up numbers, it was a clear example of incompetence. The quality of racing and fairness within the grades isn't a primary concern to the event organisers. Until there is some kind of system in place to track and rank riders, it is likely nothing will change.

The solution for a few of these issues? To look at what the recreational ride is doing and come up with a middle ground. Reduce the "$8,000 prize money" that only 5% of the field get to see (and that gives people incentive to demote themselves) and implement better services for the entire field, services that 100% of people will benefit from. Pre-race rego, electronic timing, more race/route information, better grading, a sprint point at the gatehouse. With a few tweaks, the Mt Buller race has the potential to be as successful for the riders as the Tour of Bright.

That is most of the negative junk out of the way, and I'm not expecting a re-tweet by CV from this race report.... if you want some sugarcoated fairytale bullshit you won't find it here, not today. I can't give you the blow by blow account of what happened at the pointy end because I wasn't there to see it.

To the race.... I'd only entered because Von was up there racing the two women's events and I didn't want to stand on the sidelines wishing I was out there too. I'd entered A Grade although I honestly don't have the runs on the board in Open road events to be there, but that'd be sorted out once all riders had entered, right...? No. I was racing A Grade! Shannon Johnson (Kosdown) driving the bunch for the first few kms out of town at a smoking pace. A group of 15 riders held a gap of 15-20 seconds for about 10km which was closed down before the climb thanks to everyone jamming up the small hills and some monster turns by leg-meat-mountain David Kelly (Total Rush).

The center line rule wasn't mentioned nor enforced. Our follow car turned a blind eye to riders ripping up the wrong side of the double whites on the way out to the climb, and up it.

A few riders went backwards through the pack on the final rise before the gatehouse. More switched off as soon as the real climbing started. I was sitting near the back and picking my way around riders for the first few km. Nathan Elliott (Charter Mason Drapac) ripped a monster turn on the front that left only 20(?) riders in touch.. at around 20 minutes into the climb I was still dangling about 10m off the back of this bunch, never getting back on. It was a solo slog to the top from then on, watching the leaders spin away. After losing sight of the bunch the motivation and power to the pedals was lacking a few percent. I made my way past a few riders that had been dropped and were just tapping to the top. Most wondering why I was still riding hard... because why not was the reason. There was no stage 2 TT to save my legs for. I wasn't in the same league as the guys up the road on a hill like this, but I wanted to see how far off I was.

Using Strava as the defacto result sheet, I was 4min30sec off the A Grade winner, Matt Clark. A handful of B Graders who've uploaded their climb times show they climbed faster than most of A Grade too. How about we take a collection and shout the handicapper a Strava subscription to help next time? :) No idea of where I ended up overall.  Plenty of time to work on that before any other lengthy hilly races pop up on my calendar.

The feed bag at the top for all riders at the top was a welcome sight. The cake, biscuit, and Gatorade was consumed in no time at all. I offered to tow Von all the way back into town if she paid for lunch..... it was agreed.... so I sat on the front for 30kms. Perfect TT training with lunch provided. We picked up one fare evader who hung on for the last 15kms. He didn't interfere so was a welcome passenger. :)

Race Results.... Only the Top 3 reported, pretty unfair on the other 95% of the field... I won't put the heat on CV for this one, it was probably due to the lack of electronic timing. There were pens, paper, and a video camera on the finish line.....

Edit: Wed 21st March - The full results for the road race have been published!

Overall winning times per grade.. (Calculated by me from Strava data and time gaps.)

Men A:   1:31:54
Men B:   1:37:56
Men C:   1:47:42
Men D:   1:51:02
Women A: 1:59:47
Women B: 2:02:03

Fastest Mt Buller climb times per grade.. (From Strava/time gaps, assuming bunch together at the base)

Men A: 40:51 (Matt Clarke)
Men B: 42:20 (Tom Hamilton)
Men C: 48:08 (Hugo Tolliday/Morgan Curtis)
Men D: 49:53 (Roland Elsdon)
Women A: 53:10 (Stephanie Ives)
Women B: 56:12 (Carolyn Fraser)


A few clarifications:
- I believe the rec ride was organised by CC, not CV... however all the events this weekend came under the Mansfield "Tour de Flavour" umbrella.
- Don't flip your shit at me for having an opinion, especially if you're an organiser, volunteer, or someone who takes offense to what I've said. Your work is appreciated. As I have done in the past, I'm echoing a number of topics discussed by a number of people over the weekend and putting them in writing.... because I want to see things get better. What you have to worry about is the riders who've done it once and won't return. You'll never know why.
- The weather was good, the roads were good, there were no major dramas affecting the racing itself. The fastest guys and gals in each grade won.
- I'll go back next year if I'm not banned... or sued by Happy Fun Fapper Pics for using their images.
- I sat on this post for most of the day, thinking it was all too negative. The response I've had on Facebook about this topic shows that there are a lot of people who are interested in the weekend and some of the details on and off the bike... so here it is.
- Just bear with me and I'll come up with good content again.... maybe.... ;)

Anyhows... for some calming visuals to finish...

Don't ask. Blame Rod Upton.

Saturday recon.... Mt Buller is in there somewhere.

Saturday recon ride.

Hey Shannon, how do sprinters rate big hills?
FUN PHOTOOTOS1111BILIILLLSON - Me not doing the rec ride.
Person in the image (c) 2012 Me.
FUN PHOTOOTOS1111BILIILLLSON - Me STILL not doing the rec ride.
Person in the image (c) 2012 Me.

Person in the image (c) 2012 Me.


Cycling Jobin said...

A picture of you on the finish line here:

Cheers, Leigh

gm said...

thou shall not condemn a man who speaketh thou mind

Shane Miller - GPLama said...

Cheers Leigh. Hey - Hit up CV for a free race entry now they've tweeted you too. You've earned yourself $55 for your efforts. All I've done is locked-in my position on their shit-list..... ;)

MT said...

I don't disagree with a lot of your comments. For the record I entered B grade...after considering A grade. I decided on B grade (despite winning it last year) because my license says MMAS2 and I haven't lined up in an open A grade race for several years. Like yourself I would have gone ok in A grade, but I enjoy being part of the race at the pointy end. I actually climbed faster this year...but it was only good enough for about 10th in B grade.

Shane Miller - GPLama said...

Cheers for the comment Michael. btw - I saw your Strava time back into town, you were motoring! haha! Did someone nuke it, or did you take it down? I think our climb times were pretty close. Bring on Bright! ;)

Ned Powell said...

Well said Shane!
Matt Clark registered in A grade and was dropped down to B grade, and had to convince the organises to let him race A grade!
I was hoping to podium in B grade but it turned out to be more competitive than I expected; according to Strava, the front of B grade was faster than A grade for the first 5 km of the climb. From my figuring, I finished 7th or 8th. Along with most of us, I would have liked to see results for more than just the top three. Nonetheless, it was a good race, with a room for improvement as you've pointed out (especially when compared to races like Tour of Bright).

MT said...

That was last years time...with the Garmin still running on top of the car.

Anonymous said...

Great post Shane adn I absolutely agree with you on a number of fronts. This just reaffirms my belief that CV has to bring in a state electronic handicapping system ASAP. Having guys like Pat Drapac and Matt Clark in B Grade is ridiculous. Also, the registration for the road race was farcical and I dont know why they didn't have electronic timing.
Made what should have been a brilliant event subpar. That being said, it seems as though everyone enjoyed themselves. I slogged up Buller behind B and then C Grade and most people were saying g'day as I passed them. Cycling Victoria should put on an event that does them justice.

Spanglish said...

Well said, I had posted on a blog similar comments. CSV are embarrassing. People payed good money to enter a cycling lottery, which if you advertised it as such, would have no interest. Maybe a way forward is the clubs to put some pressure on to CSV, as individual comments by riders will be deemed to be moaning. For your information, last year I wrote into CSV and indicated to them that the winner of D Grade would have finished near podium in B and podium in C. The reply... its not an exact science!
Obviously, a better answer would be we are working towards a better solution.

Caboose said...

You know someone aptly equipped with some DB software, a brief history of cycling results and a whole lot of time could implement a pretty easy to use handicapping system. Maybe some kind of internet famous celebrity blogger/IT pro could donate his time....

Shane Miller - GPLama said...

First up we need acknowledgement by CV/whoever there IS a problem. We need buy-in from every single entity for it to work.... from CA down to clubs. Only then can we start the nerd-dance about solutions. I recall this topic discussed at the DB level over on CyclingTips a while back... made me lol... it was just like every tech meeting I've been in before...

If you're alluding to me/IT/DB/solution then a few peanuts to pick from that.... :)

- IT isn't like it was in 1993 where if you had a computer at home you're the now IT manager at work. Where rebooting things made you the 'expert'. It is a massive industry now made up of specialty areas. eg. Someone who paints walls of houses uses paint and brushes, they can't paint you a Mona Lisa.. we all accept this... However in IT you'll see 'painters' doing all sorts of weird shit they're totally unqualified to do... and this is why we need IT security people... to fix their shit... :)

- Time donation. Not a chance. CA/CV/CCCC/whoever was capable of securing $80k for lights at Packer Park velodrome... for a handful of riders who'll ever use it... imagine the funding they should be able to pull off if they campaigned for something that would benefit every single registered cyclist in the state/country!? Different buckets of money, sure, and an invisible 'system' isn't something a local member of parliament can stand in front of and cut a ribbon for a photo shoot....

Anyhows.. ranting too much... I think we all agree we want change. This is a start.