5am is not too bad a time to get up. By 5:20 I was on the road and all full of enthusiasm and excitement. It lasted till the other side of Sydney or about 2 hours before I settled in for what turned out to be a long coffee fueled, turn left to go right, wow look at that trip to Lorne in Victoria. Nearly a year worth in training had brought me here for Amy’s Gran Fondo.
I’ve had some long-term projects before, motorbikes, photography projects
Lorne itself was great, and the locals seemed to embrace all the bike related activity. I frequented the Lorne Larder most days and would happily recommend it. Riding around the town and the great ocean road itself was an amazing experience. The road just rolls along, up and down. Every time you rest a small hill you see the next one, and you just feel compelled to continue riding. However, I was on a training regime and headed back into town after a quick exploration.
The morning of the event I felt good. Mick’s mantra of “You’ve done all the work, and there is nothing more you can do” allowed me to remain focused and calm. Having said that, I just want to get on with it. Before I knew it, I was three back from the start of the 35-39 division. We were to be motor-paced for the first 1.8k to the first timing loop.
The pace out to the loop felt good but when it passed by it was on! I had what I thought to be a good wheel but after a few corners realized that he was struggling and I had to do something now. I pushed him and set a solid pace up the climb. I had done a recce the day before and knew I only had another kilometer to go before I could get only the flat and gain a recovery. Oh, how wrong was I… My exploration the day before had finished on a false flat and a short downhill. I figured this was the top of the first climb and had returned to ride out along the great ocean road.
The false flat just kept going and going. I felt like I had hit my limit and I was only 15 minutes in. I watch the green bands of the 35-39 group go past me and figure I just had to head down, bum up and keep with who I could. By this stage, we had not only the 40-44 age group leaders pass but also the 45-49 group! Trying to hold the wheel as they passed proved to by just that little bit too much energy then I had to give.
We finally rolled over the top of the first KOM point and started the descent. The downhill went well, and I was able to get back onto the group I had been trying to keep up with. But after a regroup and dropping the HR the course changed direction and headed straight into purgatory. The wind here was brutal; it would smash you from the side, and there was nowhere to hide. Very quickly I would find myself being spat out the back, only to be picked up by a new group to be spat out the back, for 30 miserable kilometers.
Finally, we turned again, and the hills started. This was somewhat of a relief as I could now find my rhythm but I just watched the group I was with walk away from me up the hill. It started to rain, and the hill just kept going. The final climb ended up being 4% fro 20k. I just focused on my rhythm and watched out for people in the same age group and trying to minimize the losses. The rain was a drizzle, and everything was wet, just as I thought it could not be too much further the 500m sign came up, and I heard a whole heap of noise. Rounding the corner all I saw was orange. Wiggle had but on Dutch corner at the top. Even tired you had to smile going through it.
I crested the top, and the descent started. It was still wet, but this did not seem to make a difference to some people. My brakes don’t like the wet much and being aware I was trying to find clean lines and pre-brake to wipe off the water. However, many did not share my caution. The amount of places I lost on the descent was huge but as it dried out I got faster and losses lessened. However, the cold on the descent made the quads ache! A sharp right-hander lead to an oh crap moment than the final sharp drop away.
Finally, I turned onto the Great Ocean Road. 40km to go… I had hoped to be in a group for this section, but nobody was around. I sucked it up and started the final leg. After a few minutes, I thought, there is somebody behind me. I turned and sure enough I had a group of about ten behind me! I swung off and got on the back. I was able to sit in this group for the bulk of the return, but as we got closer the gully’s became steeper and more, and more water was across the road. With about 4k to go I was not able to get quite back on and lost the group after I hesitated to go through a sharp corner covered in water. 3 of us stayed together as we made the final kilometers home. Finally crossed the timing loop, heart rate up and pushing, I felt smashed going over the line. I got my breath back before zipping up the jersey and adjusting my hat. I crossed the line and pointed to my MCC logo on my jersey. I pulled up and lay down for a while. Then I went and found breakfast!
Final time 3:39.07 71/176, missed qualification by 10:08 minutes. Till next time.