Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Amy's Gran Fondo 2012 with a Geelong CC TT as warm-up.

Another weekend in country Victoria, another two days of pinning on a number and pushing the pedals in two very different events. Saturday was the 23km Geelong CC ITT at Paraparap (square course) followed up with the 120km Amy Gillett Gran Fondo the next day. Mass participation events aren't usually on my calendar. This year I was invited to join Team Hydralyte Sports for the Gran Fondo on and around the Great Ocean Rd, something I couldn't turn down.

Geelong CC ITT - Paraparap. 23.3km - September 15th.

A final tune-up before the Cycling Australia Masters Nationals TT in Goulburn in two weeks. Sorting everything from the equipment, warm up, music, and mind set. There is always something to improve on. The HED3 tri-spoke finally got a run in the still conditions. How'd it go? Same as every other front wheel, it just looked better. The electronic timing that Geelong CC have is magic. The start line strip is 10m from the 'hold' point which takes the stress out of everything for the starters. As soon as you roll over it, the clock starts ticking. Team mate Stephen Lane was my minute-man, and he had a flyer first lap. I had only pegged him back 30 seconds with 8km to go. His goal was for me not to make the catch, my goal was to make the catch. I won that battle, coming past with just 1km to go. SLane was delighted that I'd made the catch, and he let me now it. ;) Fingers crossed they put us off a minute apart at the Nationals, it pushes us both to ride a lot harder.

Men Aero Top 5:
1 Shane Miller   30:20.900        
2 Stephen Lane   31:26.479  +1:05.579    
3 Jose Areta     32:54.080  +2:33.180    
4 Peter QUIBEL   33:31.508  +3:10.608    
5 Mark Bellew    34:14.241  +3:53.341
Full Results

Amy's Gran Fondo 2012 - September 16th.

After a last minute speed bump with my team entry for Hydralyte Sports, I was assigned #1001 and lining up with the front group at 8am. The reason I usually say clear of mass-participation events is that the mix of abilities is a little too chaotic. I really didn't know what to expect.

There was a diverse range of riders in the first 'speedy' group. I was wedged between riders from Genesys and the VIS, all who ran clinchers, huge saddle bags, pumps, and had plenty of food on board. Some of these guys and gals ride for a living. They 'got it', with a thousand times more class than some others. This might have been a UCI World Masters race qualifier for us age-challenged riders, still no reason to forget why the event exists: To promote, educate, and allow people to participate in 'Safe bicycling in Australia'. This wasn't an Open, a championship, or a 'sheep stations' weekly club crit. I had to remind myself of this a few times before, during, and after the race. That was my perspective leveller and made for a much better reflection on the event.

Having a full road closure meant there was plenty of room to give those less familiar with 'holding a line' a wide berth. From the start I kept within the lead 50 riders. The pace was ON. 10+ riders from one of the major event sponsor were on the front and DRILLING IT. A good photo opportunity, I guess? String it out and keep it safe? We all hung on and dodged bad wheels. Although the pace was high it was still safer than any half-road large bunch I've ridden in before.

We all waited for the inevitable drop in pace..... 23km along the Great Ocean Rd it happened. Team DRILL IT had done their thing and had only a few guys left on the front. At the same time a number of riders made the 'Catch of the Day', joining the lead group after starting 90 seconds behind in the second wave (next group of 200 riders to start). Tom Leaper and David Kelly from the second wave were the notable riders now in the lead group. Since the event timing was based on each rider passing timing points, anyone wanting to come in first overall would have to put almost minutes into these two. No chance!

A few riders trying to ping off the front brought the pace back up again, allowing us to take nice lines through the twisty roads. 38km in we hit the 9km climb to the KOM. 400W+ wasn't enough to keep with the leaders and I watched 35 or so riders pull away...... temporarily. My climbing legs soon engaged I started to weave my way up towards the leaders. By the top I collected 5-6 riders and we only had 6-7 leaders up the road. The gentlemanly agreement was for me to cross the KOM first as I was setting the tempo for the group... I was in the box stomping and hearing the guys behind me discussing this was good motivation to take them all the way up and over the top. KOM complete, legs cooked, I swung over and let the others set the pace.

55km into the event I'd burnt a few matches. As I sat near the back trying to recover, drink, and eat, Nick Mitchell and Joel Pearson kept the pace up and closed the gap to the leaders.

Status check at this point - The good: I was with the lead group! The bad: I just dropped half my fruitcake! Bugger.

40km to go. Into the rolling hills and flat roads. 12-14 of us well clear of any chasers with a reported 2 minute gap (thanks moto scout!). The pace was always at a solid tempo. A few attacks here and there, David 'Quadzilla' Kelly was always attentive, pulling them back, keen to keep the advantage he had by bridging to the leaders from the second start group. Tom Leaper and Rhys Gillett were never shy to drive the pace. We got waves, cheers, claps from the locals who came out to support the event. The TV motorbike was zipping past capturing us. All very pro.

With all riders having coloured numbers indicating their age category, I could see only one other MMAS1 (30-34yo) rider in the break, Daniel Strauss (Bike Gallery). If we held our 2 minute gap to any MMAS1 chasers, and we both passed the timing start point at the same time then it would just be a race to the line between us two. $500 up for grabs for fastest in each age category too! Leaper and Kelly had overall tied up. With the attacks by the three African Wildlife Safari boys in the break and the firepower of Kelly, Leaper, Gillett and a few others covering them. Strauss and I had an almost arm-chair ride for the final kms. 'Almost' as it was uphill we had to keep our front wheels away from Squeaky McDrychain who was fading and throwing in inadvertent hooks as we were having a bit of a laugh about which body part could most do with a post-race massage.

The final kms ticked over very fast with the attacks being thrown in by those aiming for line honours. I was aiming for 1) survival and 2) trying to get a few seconds on Strauss for a shot at MMAS1 fastest. Strauss even threw in an attack aiming to be the first wheel over the line. I wasn't game enough to give that a stab. He was closed down by the pack, then we were both dagged in the final few 100m. I wasn't sure what Strauss had left in the tank, it is impossible to tell when his face is hidden behind a Ned Kelly-esque beard. We went head to head to the line. No late attacks in my legs meant I got there a few bike lengths clear of him and a few seconds down on the leaders. 

Tom Leaper took overall honours and our lead group took out a number of age category wins. An SMS from the Amy Gillett organisers confirmed I'd done just enough to be fastest MMAS1! Strauss locked in 2nd fastest for MMAS1 and $300 too. Ace! An awesome bonus after a good day spent on the bike with great company in the front group.

- Amy Gillett Foundation and everyone involved for the event. Bring on 2013!
- The riders I shared the day with. A few laughs mixed with a few efforts, perfect.
- Hydralyte Sports for the opportunity to represent their team. (We got 2nd overall in men's teams).
- Kosdown, THULE Australia, and my other personal sponsors for their support.
- Everyone who reads these babbling race reports, random Tweets, and who only know me as 'The Lama'. I'm always amazed at how many people read my reports and come up for a chat at TTs and other events. Makes punching the keys on my 'rest days' all worth while. Thanks!

Full Results (Raceresult.com)
Official AGF website
AGF 2012 Photos (Epsom Rd Studios)


You have to line up for at least 5 minutes.

No question mark about it! Fastest MMAS1, do collect $500!

Miranda and I losing the height battle with the Amazons.
Photo (c) www.tonyreeckmanphotography.com

Epic awkward handshake miss in front of 100s.... proof that I tried!
SuperVon was part of the #1 Women's Team!
Photo (c) www.tonyreeckmanphotography.com

Photo (c) www.tonyreeckmanphotography.com
Dave Kelly and I losing the 'who has the most hair' KOM.
Photo (c) www.tonyreeckmanphotography.com
Von packing the car... Pro style!

Dave Kelly performing the Gran Fondle on my stuck zipper.
My favourite photo of the day. Teamwork and laughs.


hamleyn said...

Super writeup mate and great work on the result. Very peeved I didn't do AGF this year. Will definitely have a crack next year.

Adrian Tritschler said...

Great writeup. I'm enjoying reading about how the ride was from those at the other end of the field from me!

Anth73 said...

Thanks for sharing your experience with the fondo and congratulations on the result. Never having seen a photo of you off your bike I always imagined you would be super tall given the lama nickname ;)