Thursday, 7 December 2017

Tour of Bright heads indoors as race cancelled due to severe weather

This time last week saw the cancellation of the 2017 Tour of Bright stage race in the Victorian high country. With severe weather warnings and predictions of up to 300mm of rain, the decision by Alpine CC was a tough one, but was the correct one to make. If anyone has descended Mt Hotham in the wet, you'll agree wholeheartedly with their decision.

Rewinding back a few years to my blog post on the 2008 edition of the Tour of Bright

"Up Rosewhite the pace was gentle and steady. At one point an O2 rider beside me asks how many watts? My reply being "too many", watts and speed up a hill is all dependant on weight, so its of little relevance to anyone other than me. I have a chat to him and find out its Mr CyclingTips himself, Wade Wallace. I've followed his web site for a while, and know of him, but never met him. No better time for introductions than up a climb in a bunch of 90 riders!"

Wade Wallace (founder of CyclingTips) and I both have a fondness for this race. We'd initially crossed paths in the bunch, and in following years we'd both managed to pull on the Yellow jersey in the Masters 1/2/3 and Masters A categories after the final sage.

A post from 2013 on Cycling Tips "Tour of Bright: A Legend Two Decades in the Making" covers the history of this race and some of the successful names in the sport who've pinned a number on at "Bright" over the years.

My last memory of racing Bright were back in 2014, finishing the extremely wet Stage 3 Mt Hotham ascent curled up in a ball on the side of the road after crossing the finish line. I've given the race a wide berth in the following years while trying to block out that experience. I'm sure I'm not alone there, it was quite a memorable stage.

Upon hearing the news the 2017 edition was cancelled, a number of people joked on social media that we shouldn't let all the race preparation go to waste and we should hold a "Virtual Tour of Bright" using Zwift. I liked the idea, however I took it as light humour knowing the effort it would take to make that happen.

Within a few hours the wheels were in motion to make it so. Wade had grabbed this idea and had run (ridden, I guess) with it at full steam!

With the approval of the organisers, sponsors, Zwift, a number of parties, and 62 emails later - The Zwift Bright Brewery Tour of Bright was in place.

Two stages, no official prizes, no entry fees, just log in, clip in, race! I was in! So were over 200 others on the start line of each stage.

– Stage 1: 9am AEDT, 55.7km (London Preztel - Somewhat Hilly)
– Stage 2: 9:30am AEDT, 72.2km (Watopia Pretzel - Really really hilly!)

Was this the official Tour of Bright? No. Was it almost as hard? Yes! A message from Wade after Stage 1 mentioned the word "Brutal" more than once I'm sure. :)

The offical 'virtual' results are over on ZwiftPower if you'd like to see where you ended up or how the riders went in each stage or in the overall GC standings.

ZwiftPower Tour of Bright Results

Stage 1 Wrap Video:

Subscribe to Shane Miller - GPLama on YouTube

Stage 2 Short Video:

Subscribe to Shane Miller - GPLama on YouTube

From an event cancellation to the global collaboration between CyclingTips and Zwift - all in only a few hours to provide riders an opportunity to race their bikes, albeit virtually, and for nothing more than to chase other pixel bike riders on their screens.

This is everything I hoped this new world of connected technology would be. It's not a replacement for the joy and excitement of racing or riding our bikes outside. That'll never be matched indoors. It's an opportunity to still get that heart rate up, to get those legs burning, and to race that rider next to you for 1st or 101st place rather than sitting on the couch looking out the window wishing you were on a bike.

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