Eildon Road Race
The Cycling Express Eildon Road Race was 133km long. Including two pondage loops and two loops of skyline road, it was a race on paper that would most likely be decided on the Skyline Road Climb (6.5km @ 5% average gradient).
A group of 3 got up the road quickly, including Cyrus Monk (AWS), Angus Lyons (VIS) and Riley Terrens (Kosdown) and they stayed away for the two pondage loops and had a 1 minute gap after the first time over Skyline.
Behind the breakaway, the peloton had split up significantly on the climb, leaving myself and 4 others over the summit. We all agreed to commit riding which would help bring us back to the three guys still up the road before the start of the final climb. In essence, if we caught these three riders before the climb, there was going to be 8 of the stronger riders in the small field of 27 and we would never be seen again by the peloton. If we didn’t ride together and catch the 3 riders by the second climb, they had a really good chance of staying away.
It was 5 guys chasing the breakaway of 3, and it took some time before we managed to catch them. Once we caught them, I had a chance to slip back to the follow car to grab some spare drink bottles. The driver of the car (a fantastic volunteer) was a father of another rider in A grade, who jokingly said he was unhappy with the speed in which we went over the first climb, causing his son to lose contact with the front end of the race. (Sorry! and thanks for the bidons…)
The second time over Skyline road I knew it was my time to test the legs. If I had a chance of winning the race, it wasn’t going to be from a sprint against these 8 guys, and getting away after the climb on the downhill/flat 30km to the finish would be nearly impossible. I got to the front and started riding, paying attention to who was still on my wheel as we got further into the climb. Closer to the summit there were two other riders remaining, Tom Leaper (Kosdown) and Cyrus Monk (AWS) and I was at least satisfied that all three of us would be racing for the three spots on the podium.
Fortunately, I did manage to drop these two remaining riders and had a little gap over the top. The first time check I got after the descent was 40 seconds to Tom Leaper, and 1 minute 10 seconds to a chase group of 4 riders. When you get time-checks in situations like this, I believe you need to make decisions and commit 100%. For a little bit I was uncertain if I’d be able to hold Leaper off until the finish. The bloke is built like a horse and not surprisingly has the horsepower to match. Unfortunately he suffered a puncture and found himself having to work his way back into the chase group of 4, and then I committed to staying away.
The chase group had now become 5 and if they still had legs and worked together, I expected them to be able to close down much of my 1 minute lead over the remaining 30 minutes of racing. It was going to be close, and I’d kept getting time checks and fortunately things stayed the same. My follow car had a loud speaker and gave me regular updates, but I still wanted to keep checking over my shoulder. The follow car seemed to speak as if I was going to win easily, saying “don’t worry, I’ll tell you if the chase group comes into sight” but I knew how my legs felt (horrible) and I also know how quickly a 1 minute gap can be closed down.
With 5 km’s to go I finally accepted that I wasn’t going to be caught, and felt relieved that my efforts were going to be rewarded. It wasn’t a huge field, but that doesn’t mean that winning was easy. My average HR for the 3 hour and 15 minute race was 173bpm, and I got a new threshold heart-rate notification of 187bpm (Average threshold HR value for an hour) which was previously 186. #marginalgains
It felt great to sit up and raise the hands, taking my second VRS win for the year (first one was the Mansfield Tour) which has put me into the leaders jersey for the VRS with only the Tour of Bright remaining!
A special thanks for our close family friends Chris and Julie who let me stay at their place in Buxton on the Saturday night, and to mum&dad and Sharon&Wayne who let me enjoy a couple of days up near Mt Buller over the long weekend without asking me to contribute to the wood-cutting exercise. I can only imagine the DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness)!
Full results can be found here: http://metarace.com.au/road/2015eildon/2015eildonrr
Thanks for reading,