Pre-registration the day before, electronic timing with results online in real-time, a grading system (finally! Not perfect, but a great start). Add to this the inclusion of the Victorian Road Series and ability based Masters grading. You can't deny that things in our sport are progressing at a rapid pace.... So much so that a few riders are drifting off the back of the collective bunch waving their fists screaming "This isn't how my sport used to be! Damn it!" More on this later on.... First up, a race report!
Masters A Grade wasn't the biggest field of the day, 40 riders on the start sheet. Quality over quantity, with more Tour of Bright podium place getters than you could poke a stick at and a few well known flat landers to keep everyone honest before the hill. Nobody knew who to watch. Still too early in the season to know who is flying and who is creeping.
|Masters A - Start line.|
|Roll out. New Kosdown kit on show too.|
The two riders just off the front of the bunch were soon swept up as we started the climb at 31km. Stephen Lane (Kosdown) went to work on the front. Full gas can only half describe the pace he set. What was left of the climbing group after only 2 minutes were all in the hurt box! All except for Michael Gallagher (VIS). He was soon on the front setting an even higher tempo, dropping more riders from the climbing group. Not content with just a high tempo, he was throwing in accelerations every few minutes.
Decision time. Do I keep fighting and respond to every attack, or peg my power numbers and never push too far into the red? Bugger it! Fight! Attack after attack was thinning the climbing group. Down to 8, 6, 4, then it was only Gallagher and I for a short while. I told him I'd pull through for a turn and keep us clear but I wasn't able to contribute much as the road pitched up harder. I did a few token turns but the pace wasn't high enough. Two riders rejoined us and Gallagher soon put the nail in our coffins with a few kms to go. Experience and ability like that is hard to beat!
|~30 second gap to Gallagher at this point.|
From the gutter action out of Mansfield to the slaughterhouse on Mt Buller at only 2 degrees, the race had character. We were all outclassed by world-class Gallagher and I was pretty happy to be standing up on the podium next to him.
Top 10 - Masters A
1. 170 Michael Gallagher 1h41:23 Carnegie Caulfield CC
2. 148 Brett Kingston 1h42:07 +44 Carnegie Caulfield CC
3. 178 Shane Miller 1h42:11 +48 Coburg Cycling Club INC
4. 156 Danny Kah 1h42:49 +1:26 Carnegie Caulfield CC
5. 150 Ciaran Jones 1h43:35 +2:12 Carnegie Caulfield CC
6. 171 Paul Mason 1h43:54 +2:31 Carnegie Caulfield CC
7. 185 Aaron Knight 1h44:01 +2:38 Team Mount Beauty
8. 151 Craig Johnson 1h45:15 +3:52 St Kilda Cycling Club INC
9. 152 Damien Jones 1h45:15 +3:52 Carnegie Caulfield CC
10.184 Tully Lyster 1h47:07 +5:44 Wangaratta Cycling Club INC
Masters A - Full Results
All Grades - Full Results
Tony Reeckman Photography
Jo Upton Photography
My take on the grading system/ear chewing....
With progress there are grumbles.... Let me address those, as best I can, after my ear was chewed off a few times over the weekend - "The handicapping isn't fair. Masters needs to be age based, not ability based. Scrap Masters altogether. What the f&#k are you in grade X for?"
- Cycling has changed in the last few years. A lot. More people. More events. More private sponsorships. More money involved. Racing is popular! Charter Mason and Kelly Coaching, both had cars and team vans there to support their troops. Only the VIS and Drapac had this luxury a few years ago.
- The quality of racing has changed. A LOT. A Elite Grade is super fast. Masters is faster than ever.
- The grading system is in early stages of development. There is only one rider you need to worry about, yourself. CV have provided all the info you need here, http://www.vic.cycling.org.au/default.asp?Page=49473 along with a feedback form.
- Grading exists to offer more riders a chance to be competitive. I think this is fair. We're not all ProTour contract seeking Elite A Graders. Most of us just want to be competitive in a bike race.
- Ego aside, you need to evaluate which grade you'll be competitive in, and race that. If you can honestly tell me there isn't a grade you'll be competitive in, I'll be surprised.
- The grading system is not set in stone. You have the ability to question/change/state your grade assignment. Have supporting information, previous results, etc to make things easy for them.
- Aged based Masters racing forces a 44yo D Grade club level master to race 32yo A Grade club level riders. I don't think this is fair.
- The grading system will have the ability to identify and relegate those who are continually 'over graded'. Hypothetically speaking, if you're always finishing in the bottom 20%, I'd be pretty nervous about expecting a start in the same grade in the next race.
- Re: Tour of Bright qualification points from the VRS. Anyone collecting points in the VRS who has already gained a top 20 last year are allowing more spots to be opened up for people who don't collect any points all year. Something to consider before complaining about how you won't get a start at Bright. Support your ToB Top 20! :)
Other Random Stuff....
Coach! - With the level of competition at the ToB last year and the introduction of ability based Masters grading in the Victorian Road Series, I knew if I kept doing the same training then I wouldn't be as competitive in 2013. So back to basics. Working on the engine under the guidance of Mark 'Fenz' Fenner (http://www.ftptraining.com). After years of doing my own thing and ticking off a few goals, working with Fenz will leave no stone unturned when it comes to getting 100% out of what I have. Only a few weeks into the program and things are looking good. Racing Mt Buller was a good indication we're on track already.
Mont24 - Von and I have been invited to be a part of THULE's mixed team up in Canberra next weekend. 24hrs. Mountain bikes. Camping out. Something well outside our comfort zone. Scott and the team at THULE have been a sponsor of mine for a few years and really do live the lifestyle their company is all about. We can't wait to be a part of it.
Easter Vets - One week after the Mont24 Von and I will be doing all five races at the South Pacific Vets Championships in Maryborough. Vets is still an eerie parallel universe of racing that I enjoy. High quality racing too. Worlds away from any grading system/pro contract chasing niggles!
2012 Masters of the Year! - My last post mentioned my nomination. The awesome news is I won! This will take pride of place on the shelf at home!
|Mansfield accommodation... The 'tin shed' was exactly that. A tiny shed.|
|This driver also failed grade 3 colouring.|
|Country town gingerbread men supporting the CFA! Awesome! Nom!|
|Llamas. Real llamas from Argentina, thanks José!|