Efforts and Words by Paul Kelly
Tour of the South West
Stage 1 – 51km Road Race (3 laps x 17km circuit)
(Normalised Power 306W, 20 minute ave power = 3.32w/kg)
Wake up, cloudy outside, no rain, sweet weather forecasters got it wrong – stoked!
5 minutes later, halfway through my bowl of wheetbix, the heavens opened. Torrential downpour and winds pick up big time – insert several choice adjectives here!
Drive out to the course in the rain, windy, still dark, not real sure where I’m going, just following the 3 cars in front all with bikes on their roofs. Disconcertingly they seems to be going the exact opposite direction to what the GPS is saying, oh good!
Finally get to start area, park car, motivation fairly crappy. Get bike out in rain & manage to get about 5 minutes tops on the trainer to try and warm up.
Head to start line, Max finds me. He’s got the shivers and looks borderline hypothermic!
What little warm up I had is now long gone.
Commissaries gives brief, dire warnings about crossing white line on road and instant disqualification, $100 fine and 4 month ban from racing – righto they seem pretty keen on that!
Finally we roll out down Wangroom road, slowly left on to Staffords, then bang, hammer goes down and it stays down all along St Marys road, Warne road, Hopkins falls road Sullivans road – full noise the whole way through the hilly sections.
Whole time still raining, visibility is terrible, cold legs are screaming the first time we go over the KOM, I crest it at about 33kmh then scream down the other side in the bunch in the rain at 55-60kmh – sketchy. Come to a chicane in the road, stuck on the outside down the back of the bunch with the muppets, slow turn right, slow turn left – have to sprint big time to stay on.
Finally we turn left onto Wangoom Rd into the headwind. I hide in the bunch out of the wind to get the breath back. I move up through the bunch – now sitting mid bunch. Having to fight to stay there – 60 blokes on narrow road going slow into a headwind does not make for easy moves.
So first lap was fighting hard just to stay on and identifying the muppets to avoid.
Lap two – lets not do a repeat of lap 1.
Left onto Staffords road, I hit it hard and pre-empt the hammer blow, works well, pick up a fair few places. Go up the KOM well, crest the top, bunch strung out, coast down the other side at about 65kmh.
Hit the chicane again, this time I make sure I’m on the inside, flick right, flick left, beautiful, barely dropped any speed. Back onto Wangoom road into the wind – hide in the bunch and try not to drift back in the bunch. Lap 2 was sweet – feeling good.
Lap 3, hammer goes down, I go early again, I’m all good, hammer REALLY goes down up the KOM and stays down, multiple attacks over the hills, fighting to stay on again.
Left onto Wangoom road and we practically stop dead – break attempts have all failed, no one wants to work. We’re going 22kmh, muppets have all surged up, next thing you know, two blokes go cartwheeling off the side of the road. One lands in half meter long grass as his bike cartwheels over the fence. The other landed on the edge of the grass – both score soft landings and all good.
3 riders have a crack up the road. Doesn’t last long, wind is pretty brutal and the bunch reels them in without really trying. We come to the final 500m uphill sprint finish. I’m feeling good, but completely and utterly boxed in. Hoping I can squeeze up the left I hold my ground, but nowhere to go. Dudes cross white line and go up the outside – so much for that rule! Another crash just before the finish and the bunch opens up to avoid it, I gun it through the openings and pick up a few places.
Road Race done – finished mid field, still in one piece but a little disappointed that I didn’t get to have a crack at the end.
Stage 2 – 12.7km ITT (Normalised Power 305W, 20 minute ave power = 3.88w/kg)
Been home, fitted the TT bars and swapped out the saddle. Head back to start line with plenty of time and get a good warm up on the trainer.
No more rain, but wind is now blowing at 35kmg and gusting to 45kmh!
Cruise up to start gate, help a bloke with his number which had fallen off, next thing I know I’m on the ramp, all clipped in, starter holding my bike, I look down and I’m big ring front and about 25 tooth back – call me Kermit – this is going to be a crappy start.
Big push off down the ramp, I’m clicking down gears madly, finally get into a decent gear, onto the TT bars and we’re off. Howling tail wind and hilly course. Spend my time reaching over and clicking up and down gears to try and maintain speed up the climbs and not spin out going down them – busy, busy, busy when should have been smooth and fast.
Lesson 1 – should have ditched the TT bars and just ridden in the drops with easy access to the gears for this section.
My Garmin starts auto pausing and auto resuming WTF, driving me mental. I turn right onto Sullivans road and the road hooks around and uphill, into a massive gusting head wind. Barely moving, Garmin off again, no idea what speed or power I’m putting out. Standing out of the saddle into the wind just made it worse, so sit back down and climb – legs screaming at this point. Around onto Hopkins road and my Garmin finally comes good again at about half way along Hopkins Road and I finally start to get back into a rhythm, before I know it I’m at 11km, starting to get it together and start putting power down, turn left toward the finish line and power up the hill.
That was my dogs breakfast of an ITT – finished mid field.
Max on the other hand after having a dog of a road race stomped it home to 12th position on the ITT!
Stage 3 – 30 minute Crit (Normalised Power 377W)
A little stressed looking at profile. 250m up at 7.5% gradient, 250m down at 7.5% straight into a corner – 60 rider bunch- this could be carnage.
Weather awesome – next to no wind, dry and nice and sunny!
Ride to the course. Do a few warmup laps. The downhill bit is smooth, wide and sweepy and super fun – no concerns about that anymore. Great crit course.
Me and Max toy around with going up the 7.5% on big or small ring. Small ring seems to work well with a single change to the big ring when you hit the top.
Head back to start line and the bunch has already massed – the commissaries sends us to the back to start – not good.
Hammer goes down straight off the line. There is a crash about 5m from the start line. I get caught up in dudes popping on the first climb. Fighting hard to stay on at this point – forget about the small ring, we are going up the climb in 53×17. This goes on for a few laps. Dudes just stopping in the middle of the road half way up the hill – great road obstacles.
Coming up the hill – No 330 who ever you are, about to pop, I go to shoot up the inside and he pops and veers hard to the left. Pushing me into the gutter. I come to a practical stand still halfway up the hill and steer around him. By the time I get around him, I’m off. Spend the next few laps trying to get back on – realise its futile and pull the pin on it – figure I’m not helping anyone just circulating out here – although I was enjoying that sweepy downhill section!
Thou shalt repeat 100 times NEVER get stuck at the back of a crit field!!!!!
Max did a supremely better job than me in working his way through the back of the field and raced a solid crit, with an attack on the hill and a lap on the front (apologies from the quasi camera crew, being myself and Anna, both of whom failed to get a photograph of his effort on the front), finishing mid field.
Anna Mac did Blotto proud – Miss Consistent all weekend, picking up a 3rd in the road race, 4th in the ITT and second in the Crit, for second overall along with the Sprinters and KOM jerseys!
From what I saw of the crit, Anna and 4 others dropped the field on about the second lap and battled it out from there. In the final sprint Anna and 2 others hoofed it around the last corner 3 abreast and sprinted it out to the line.
So thats the 2014 TOSW and my first 3 stage race done and dusted.
Terrible weather and tough competition, but was a good learning curve and great fun, I’ll be back next year!