Friday, 29 June 2012

Northern Combine ITT Championships 2012. Wildwood ITT - Coburg CC. June 2012

Northern Combine ITT Championships 2012. 23rd June 2012.

Even with detailed Google Maps and in car navigation, nobody can find Balliang. If you're within 20kms of the race start and you see a car going the other way with a bike on the roof, keep going, they're lost. To keep it as easy as possible, I've always driven through Bacchus Marsh to get there. This route is handy for a quick course recon as this is the out-and-back road the TT is held on. I stopped for a few minutes at the 12km turn point on the Bacchus Marsh - Balliang Rd to see how windy it really was..... and it really was... 30-40km/h WNW. An epic cross wind with nowhere to hide.

The standard banter at the start of a windy TT is "Do I run a rear disc or not?". The rear wheel doesn't steer a bike..... and with about 40-50kgs+ placed on top of it when you're riding, it takes more than a little wind to disrupt it. The front wheel on the other hand is where things get interesting. There is a reason we don't run front discs on the road, and a reason we don't use shallow rims either. The best wheel to use on the road is somewhere in between. The trick on race day is to guess which front wheel is best to use given the conditions. My selection in order of 'windiness' is a heavy 50mm clincher, Zipp 404 50mm, or HED Stinger 90 90mm. The selection process isn't very scientific. Check the wind, and ride what you can hang onto, the Zipp 404 it was. Tyre pressure is a whole new topic, in summary it comes down to two road surface types 'rough as guts' or 'pretty smooth'. Bacchus Marsh - Balliang Rd is somewhere in between. Cross winds and TT helmet selection is also something that I'll tinker with once/if KASK or another brand get the AS/NZS certification on their short stubby helmets (Team Sky TT helmets). Equipment selection sorted... that was the hard part of the day over.

What it feels like riding in a cross wind.
I was defending the title from last year, meaning I was off last chasing everyone. Nick Squillari was my minute man and was on a pretty good ride out to the turnaround. I'd pulled him back to within 20 seconds as we were approaching the turn. One last glance up to see where I needed to start braking and I see Nick sliding across the road. I wtf'ed for a moment and saw the corner marshals scrape him off the road as I hit the turn. It looked like when he got off the TT bars approaching the turn a gust of wind had its way with his front wheel and sent him flying. With the majority of the work done for the day we could switch to cruise mode with the mostly-tailwind home. I had a few catch-and-releases on the way back to the line to help keep the tempo high.

29:55. 46.something km/h. Enough for 1st place ahead of Mitch Cooper (Charter Mason Drapac Development), and Nick 'I take TT tips from Andy Schleck' Squillari who bounced back up onto his bike and lost next to no time on the return leg..... and who had also given his BMC TT bike a new bloody paint job!

Custom paint job!

Balliang was one of my first TTs on an almost real TT set up back in 2006. It was a 32km ITT back then, and I was schooled by Jake Sutherland by over 2 minutes. I'm still chasing those 2 minutes.

NC ITT Championships - Balliang. 2006

NC ITT Championships - Balliang. 2012.
Photo by Michael McRitchie

Elite Men Top 5:
1     Shane Miller       Coburg        29.55    
2     Mitch Cooper       Brunswick     31.33 +1:38     
3     Nicholas Squillari Geelong CC    32.29 +2:34     
4     Stephen Lane       Coburg        32.34 +2:39     
5     Luca Giacomin      Brunswick     32.55 +3:00

Full Results
Pics by Jo Upton (Facebook)

The Giant Celtic boys posted a nice write up of the TT over on their site too:

Wildwood ITT - Coburg CC. 16th June 2012.

With little notice Coburg CC created and held a very successful flash-mob ITT. $5 entry, same course as round #1 of their Summer ITT series, and one hell of a northerly wind. 25 riders across Aero, Restricted, and Women's Restricted categories. With such a small charge for entry, I put the offer on the table to cover 4 people on the day, this offer was snapped up. More people, all good! I just had to do well break even.

It has taken me three time trials on this course to figure out you can't ride the first 14km pacing yourself off power. The first half is just too rough, too hilly, and the climb from 10km-11km is a leg drainer. With the head wind and climbs the first 8km was done at only 33km/h, at the same power that'd usually mean 46km/h+ on a wind-free flat road. Even though the bike speeds were low, the wind speed was a 35km/h northerly, effective wind speed = 68km/h. Tough conditions.

A hard slog out to the 16km turn, almost side swiped by a ute driver trying to 'teach me a lesson'.... who missed me, prick... Then a quick spin to the finish line with the roaring tailwind. I planted a pedal at the 22.5km turn but thankfully it didn't lift a wheel.... then I had an encounter of the grandma kind in the final few kms when she passed me and slowed behind another rider. As I went to overtake them both, nana plants her foot and drifts into me. 'Ol purple rinse kept me on my toes!

Aero - Top 5:
1 Shane Miller    36.20
2 Stephen Lane    38.31 +2:11
3 Nick Squillari  38.41 +2:21
4 Gerard Donnelly 39.01 +2:41
5 Martin Lama     39.39 +3:19

Full Results: Coburg CC Facebook.

Random Visuals

Guess who's back?....
"Carvia"? Put some effort in you crazy bastard!

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