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Tour of Bright

I started drafting this blog post about 3km up the Tawonga Gap climb in Stage 1 on Saturday 4 December. I had become distracted riding through the feed zone at the base of the climb and all of a sudden lost contact with the lead group. So it was a 7km solo climb with lots of time to think up some interesting lines for my proposed blog post. But I figured that one of the other 550 riders who competed that weekend would post a more entertaining blog and so I shelved plans to retell my own experience at the Tour of Bright.

I should start out by explaining that I am not a climber. Weighing in at 70kg my body does not do hills. Despite many punishing rides in the mountains surrounding Canberra leading up to the event, I guess I have to borrow an old cliché and say that there is nothing that can prepare you for Bright. In the 7 minutes and 48 seconds that the leaders put into me in the final 7km climb up Tawonga, I had enough time to think about the lessons I had learnt that day:

1.The feed zones are probably there for a reason. Don’t think that opting against taking a drink bottle of water will make the climb any easier. When your legs weigh 30kg each, a 1kg bidon is not going to make jack squat difference.

2.The night before the race is not the time to be discussing how many teeth you should have on your rear cluster – especially when your coach suggests a 27 chainring and you only have a 25. And when he offers you a 26 the night before the race, take it. Might come in handy.

3.When you get dropped, make sure you take in the scenery. Bright is simply stunning. It has got to be better than the view in the peloton of thin transparent black knicks – or even worse, white knicks.

I rolled over the line in 18th place. Up that final climb one young female rider went effortlessly spinning past – most probably with a 27. But I also passed two more senior men who reminded me that they could be old enough to be my granddad. I suppose that made them feel better about being chicked. I had actually been dropped after the first climb up Rosewhite Gap about 50km into the stage and then gradually picked up riders until we had a big enough group to get a good pace-line going. I was pretty much toasted by the time we caught the lead group and did my best to sit on with my thoughts shifting to the afternoon stage.

I very nearly didn’t race the Tour of Bright. Like most parts of Australia, it had rained for six days straight in Canberra. It proved the perfect time to taper – you can’t get too cranky with the home-trainer when you’re only scheduled to do hour recovery rides. Though there is only so much character building you can take before you finally crack. The morning of the first stage at Bright we woke to pouring rain. I seriously contemplated messaging my coach and asking for an ergo session instead. My old triathlon coach had a rule ‘Wet Road. No ride’ and my only two stacks have been on wet roads so I didn’t fancy racing up and down mountains in the rain. But I had to finish the morning stage if I wanted to have a crack at the time trial, which was my main focus for the weekend. So with roommates Ailie McDonald and Vicki Whitelaw, we toughened up and got our kit on. By some miracle the rain stopped pretty much as we rolled out of our cabin.

The weather cleared up and the roads dried by the time we finished the morning stage. After creeping from Tawonga Gap back to Bright I had less than three hours to recover, feed myself and get the TT bike ready. My legs were dead but I had to convince them to smash out a 15.7km time trial. I reminded myself that everyone would have dead legs. I finished up with fourth place in 23:51 and 39.48km/hr. Roommate Vicki won the stage in 22:33 and an impressive 41.76km/hr. It was nice to get on the social networking sites that afternoon and see some positive comments about my race including this one from Cycling Tribe “Joe Lewis & Rebecca Wiasak have proven today that blogging for Cycling Tribe makes you an awesome rider.” Classic.

I was pretty much in survival mode for the rest of the weekend. I didn’t have big expectations for the final stage up Mt Hotham and decided I would just hang on as long as I could. This point came at a nasty little pinch known as ‘The Meg’. Race over. So it was time to take in more of the scenery and get my backside up the rest of that mountain. I finished up 17th in that stage and 16th on GC. Roommate Vicki cleaned up taking all three stage wins, the KOM and overall title. I only have to find 20min and some climbing legs before next year to be competitive!

Rebecca Wiasak