Monday, November 09, 2009

Stratford to Dargo



This is a story about a race that our club ran and I volunteered, I didnt even race, I did race the crit the next day and will give you more info in a sec. The race was an open event, listed with Cyclesport Victoria and a KOM event so it was a challenge. At the moment, the "Baw Baw classic" holds the title of the toughest climb in the Southern Hemisphere in an open event and our event is just as hard. For the record, the race was called the Stratford to Dargo, but continued 14km past Dargo up a nasty climb and a total distance was 104km and tough.

One rider that rode the race had his garmin file here. The top of the big hill is the end of the race, apparantly he had his garmin on for the drive home in the car so thank you to Gerard Donnelly who finished 2nd in Masters 4+ and rode himself into the ground, he has an excellent race write up too

Gerards race info:-

Garmin File:-  http://connect.garmin.com/player/18252489
Race write up:- http://tfmceltic.webs.com/


This is a pic of Gerard receiving 2nd prize in his age group.










I drove lead car for Masters 4+, forgetting I was going to be in the car for 4 hours, I failed to obey rule number one and that was to have plenty of food and WATER for me! let alone anyone else.

There were 81 entries over 3 grades and 2 masters categories. The ride was NASTY and I hadnt even seen the last 14km, I had ridden the rest and I knew that the last 14 was really bad as my husband (lol still sounds funny) had walked part of it in a race as he only had a 25 on the back and a 27 or 28 is almost a necessity to get through it. Basically 45 riders had DNF next to their name. Some began to ride the steep section beyond Dargo and turned back but thanks to temperatures of 28-32 degrees C, some were just too dehydrated to consider going forward.

SO......In the race I was leading (in my air conditioned car), there was a break at the 5km mark and he stayed away until the 25km mark, either he obviously didnt know about the big hills but once he began riding the undulations realised that this ride was not going to be a picnic. The bunch mainly stayed together, a rider Roland Elsdon tried a break for about 5-8km on some steep descents, but was caught and then a group of two - Donnelly and a rider named David Sturt broke away together at around the 80km mark. These two riders were going hard together until David had enough and pulled out leaving Gerard to keep on going alone.

There was a chasing bunch and Gerard still had the toughest part of the ride ahead. We had passed a couple of stragglers along the way from B and C grade which had started as one bunch only 10 minutes ahead of these guys. The last 10.5km has an average gradient of 8.3%, but given that probably 5-6km of that has a gradient of around 3% in spurts along the way, there are several pinches of up to 13-14% in the climb.

The winner ([pictured here - Rowan Dever) rode 3:37 in A grade which is amazing and the last rider to finish was 5:02. and that was a MMAS7 rider who does ride well at the Tour of Bright - Robert Pagey. He was also the rider I identified at the start as the lone breakaway who nobody chased and who finally realised that this was a long haul race! Of 26 mens Masters 4+ only 12 finished.

PS that is Hubby on the right!



Gerard looked to have the race won, but unfortunately was being tracked by hill climber extroadinaire Ken Ford who past Gerard  while Gerard was having a mechanical and cramps and all of the ugly stuff that happens at the end of tough hot bike races, when you are dehydrated and perhaps a little insane for continuing! Ken Ford was the winner in 3:55, with Gerard 2nd in 3:58.


This is Ken Ford crossing the finish line - First in his age group. Masters 4+

Watching it all unfold from the comfort of my car (while I was dreaming about food and water), was interesting and I could not believe how fast these guys descend. I had to put the pedal to the metal a couple of times. Driving a lead car fast around corners to avoid having cyclists meeting the tow bar is FUN!. It certainly reinforced the fact that mental toughness is such a big part of racing bikes. Just to continue on every rider would have had huge amounts of toughness and it was amazing to watch. As riders crossed the line, people were ready to catch them as they cramped up and you could feel their pain and suffering. Lots of water was given out. The St John ambulance volunteers did an amazing job on minimum resources. It was an amazing thing to be part of.

Course profile can be found here, although 8.3% does not seem to give the course justice.

Oh and the crit, there were three grades, I raced B grade and got smashed, I rode it to the end. In hindsight A grade would have been better as it was a fast smoother ride, I was racing against about 4 18 year olds who just kept attacking. For the record I was in the bunch for 14 minutes of a 50 minute crit. We only had about 7 or 8 starters so I got to ride a lot on my own. It was still fun although very hot. The other girl that raced usually races well and she got dropped as well......overall happy that I had learned some mental toughness.


Most photos here credited to Charmion Phillips from Aeon Photo or ME!

4 comments:

Groover said...

Being support certainly has it's own challenges and I would have made the same mistake at the Grafton to Inverell race if people wouldn't have told me beforehand. I could very well relate to your descriptions.

Groover said...

BTW I was meant to ask: Are you doing Bright this year?

Buttsy said...

Hey Groover, I dont think we are going to make it to Bright, mainly from a logistical viewpoint, we have just been to Wagga, Canberra,Sydney, got married and had my parents living here for 6 months early in the year, so just concentrating on local racing and saving some $$$

Mel-2nd Chances said...

Still sounds like a fun experience even though you had 4 wheels (and a motor) rather than 2 :D Great pics!

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