Leaving Dad Behind

Robert Matthews completed the Audax Australia Alpine Classic 200 km Sunrise Over Buffalo ride in 2016 at age 13. This year he lined up for the 250 km Alpine Classic Extreme.

When I signed up for the Alpine Classic 250 I knew that it was going to be a step up from the 200, which I did last year, but I didn’t realise how much harder it was going to be. Dad and I opted for the 4 am start, which for us meant waking up at 1:30 am because we were staying at my grandma’s place in Kiewa.

As we rolled out of Bright in the darkness I said to myself “This is gonna be long day…”. It started off pretty slow then the group started a bit of a paceline and by the time we got to Harrietville my legs were already aching. Then we got to the climb.

 

I began the ascent of Hotham with the front few riders but after the first few km I decided that I should save myself for the rest of the day and ride at my own pace and that’s what I did for the next 10 km. It was such a relief getting past The Meg and cresting the top of the first section. Too bad it was still dark and I couldn’t appreciate the view. Back to climbing. I took it easy for the next few bits and on the final stretch to the Summit of Hotham, I realised that there were going to be photographers at the top so I better take that ugly reflective vest off. It was now getting light so, technically, I was allowed to.

The first checkpoint and food stop, which was at Dinner Plain, was quite a bit further than I expected. We had decided that we were only going to stop for five or ten minutes but when I saw a loaf of bread and a huge pot of Nutella I just couldn’t resist. So I quickly chowed down my sandwich and we got going again. The descent was long, broken up with hills and a few flat sections which morphed into the road to Omeo. I was riding with a nice group of people who made a quite boring stretch of road a bit more interesting. I was feeling a little bit sore that whole time so when we arrived at the centre of Omeo and the road goes up out of nowhere I let the others go ahead while I rolled over it at a sensible speed.

We didn’t take much of a stop at Omeo, just filling our bottles and grabbing a few snakes, before we set off again. The next 15 kilometres weren’t that fun, with a bit of an unexpected climb, before one of the most beautiful parts of the whole ride winding along the funnily named “Big” river. It was a bit unfortunate that I couldn’t appreciate it fully because the only thing that was on my mind was the extremely hyped climb up the back of Falls Creek.

 

I was bracing myself for the worst when I saw the turn-off but nothing could have prepared me for what was to come. As I turned the corner, the writing on the road described exactly what I was feeling, “WTF!”. I was going down through my gears and then realised that it wouldn’t go into my easiest gear. This was going to be a long hill. And it was. The only distraction was the sound of mooing cows who, I told myself, were cheering me on.

I made it up the first section of the climb and then decided that it was a bit too hard not having my biggest gear so I stopped and attempted to fix it for five minutes I just couldn’t get it to shift across and stay there luckily Dad was not too far behind and he was able to get it shifting in a matter of seconds.

For the rest of the climb, I could now just spin up, in the 32, with relative ease. As we crested Falls Creek this almighty headwind came out of nowhere and was really demoralising. We pushed on and a smile appeared on my face as we arrived at the little descent and I could see the check point in the distance. This time we were going to have a decent sized lunch stop. I grabbed a veggie roll and some rice cream, remembering how good this was from the ride last year.

 

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We took our time to eat our lunch and then we got to the best part, the descent. I saw this young guy in Rapha kit who looked like a good wheel to follow and gosh he was! We leaned into all the corners, passing heaps of people and I barely even needed to use my brakes.

Dad wasn’t feeling too good at Mt. Beauty and when we got to the Tawonga climb he told me to ride ahead. I paced up the climb at a reasonable speed knowing that it was the last hard section and I caught a guy that was about at my level. I had a little chat with him going up the hill but I wasn’t going to let him beat me to the top. When he accelerated I sprinted past him, over the hill and then down the other side. It was fair to say that I was feeling better than I expected.

I found a nice group to ride into Bright with and, as I rolled under the long corridor of trees and through the finishing chute, I thought back at the awesome day that I had just had and how I will definitely be back next year. Dad was only about five minutes behind me and when we saw each other back at the carpark we gave each other a big high-five then quickly changed into our boardies and jumped into the river. I’d like to thank Audax for putting on such an amazing day and also all of the volunteers who took time out of their day to make our ride that little bit easier and more enjoyable.

Kitchen on fire for new team

NSWIS Sydney Uni

Lauren Kitchen has claimed 4th place in the overall General Classification and 3rd place in the Sprint Classification of the 2017 Santos Women’s Cycling Tour.

Kitchen was the leading rider home for the newly formed women’s cycling NSWIS Sydney Uni partnership in this Tour Down Under Classic.

Hailing from Port Macquarie, Kitchen let the other 101 riders know from the outset last Saturday she was one to watch finishing 10th overall in the tough 106.5 km, Stage 1 showdown and 7th in the Sprint Classification. Stage 1 was won in a time of 2h 51:01, with Kitchen at +1:01 in hot pursuit, just behind the first three.

A celebrated sprinter and road cyclist, Kitchen roared into 4th overall in the 32 km Adelaide Criterium Stage 2 and held 2nd position overnight in the highly-fancied Sprint Classification. Kitchen never released her grip over the final two stages, powering to steal the Lap 25 Sprint and points on offer in the last race.

The NSWIS Sydney Uni Santos Women’s Tour team comprised of Kitchen; Kirsten Howard; Ashlee Ankudinoff; Gina Ricardo; Nicola MacDonald and Emma Roberts, with Katie Brown as Team Manager. In the strongest field yet, the Santos Women’s Tour pitted 17 teams of six riders against each other over four stages from January 14 to 17, 2017.

The Tour encompassed two Adelaide city Criteriums, Stages 2 and 4 along with stages in the Barossa and Adelaide Hills. The fourth and final Criterium stage, mercifully held in the early evening of a sweltering Adelaide day, was bonanza for spectators who thrilled at the speed and intensity of the top riders going for broke around a 1.2 km course.

SUVelo dominates L’Étape Australia

Chris Miller claims top spot in L'Étape Australia

SUVelo members have put in a brilliant performance at today’s L’Étape Australia. Jesse Coyle recorded the 5th fastest time to finish 9th in the overall standings. He also placed 4th in the KOM placings. Gina Ricardo, recent Club Championships A Grade winner, claimed 3rd overall in the women’s category, also taking 4th in the KOM contest.

Chris Miller on the road at L'Étape Australia

The biggest performance of the day though comes from Chris Miller. Chris pulled out all the stops to claim top spot in the KOM and overall categories. Rather fittingly, Chris was presented the yellow and polka dot jerseys from Team Sky rider Chris Froome, who won both jerseys in the 2015 edition of Le Tour.

Chapeau!

NRS National Capital Tour – Day 3

The final day was a billed as a double-header, with a 70km road stage in the morning and a 50km crit in the afternoon, so Pete, Jesse and Chris were in for a hard day. Canberra really turned on the style with a cold, wet day forecast, though we had clearish skies in the morning, so there was some hope. After reconfiguring the car to accommodate our newly promoted DS, Moosh, we headed off down to Manuka for some pre-race coffees. We were sure to do really well today with a 1:1 DS to rider ratio. I don’t think even Team SKY can boast that!

No sooner had we reached the café than it was straight into serious DS duty as *someone* left their gels at home. Dan volunteered to drive back to the house, though as the only non-coffee drinker (I know, right?!) there weren’t going to be any offers. The boys got their tyres pumped and headed off for the start at Stromlo, Dan picked up myself and Moosh and we drove over, quickly encountering the promised rain. Wet start, wet race.

Our car was relegated to position 15 in the convoy (position is based on your rider placings) so I updated the stickers and we were ready to roll out. The race itself was pretty uneventful for us. With no sharp turns we never saw the riders and only had intermittent, crackly commissaire announcements to keep us poorly informed of goings on up the front. Dan was driving, I was on comms & rider spotting duties and Moosh was Media Manager, gleefully sticking a GoPro in dropped riders’ faces and keeping his social media profile up to date.

The action down the back was pretty constant. Riders getting punctures in the wet, then coming back through the peloton. Riders getting dropped. Cars stopping to pick up kit dropped by riders. It was also cool looking back at times and seeing the fleet of flashing blue lights enforcing the rolling road closures. Given we were on some of Canberra’s bigger roads, the rolling closure was so tight that some punctured riders, whose team cars were towards the back of the convoy, found themselves outside the rolling closure and in regular traffic by the time their wheel had been changed. This required a call to the commissaires, followed by a police car dropping back to guide them back into the fold. That must have been a sight to behold for Little Johnny on his way to family breakfast – police car with lights flashing, being drafted by a team car, being drafted by some skinny, wet dude on a bike inches from the rear bumper :)

The stage finished in a sprint back at Stromlo, with stern warnings to the team cars not to follow the peloton onto the crit track. We had a couple of hours before the next stage, so the guys grabbed gilets and rode back to the house. Dan stayed to watch Ben & Grechy’s stage finish while myself and Moosh drove back, with a super slow section on the hard shoulder trying and failing to find Chris’ lost GoPro. The guys arrived back in the house cold, wet and wanting some hot food, so it was back out for some bacon & egg rolls followed by some cleaning of the house before checkout and packing the car ready for the drive back to Sydney after the final stage. Given it was a crit we didn’t need to worry about having to follow the peloton!

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We returned to Stromlo. The rain was still falling and it was still cold. Enthusiasm levels were low. No-one was looking forward to an NRS crit in the rain. Once coats/jerseys were collected on the start line, the DSes didn’t have much to do, so we hung around the infield. Dan and Moosh shouted encouragement from the sidelines, I took some photos. We grabbed some towels from the car to give the riders to dry off after the race.

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Jesse pulled the pin halfway through as expected. With the main event of his season the following weekend (2nd in NSW Elite U23 TT Champs as it happens, even with a puncture!!), it just wasn’t worth the risk of a crash in a wet crit with nothing at stake. The rain got worse shortly after and it was time to seek some cover. Chris and Peter soldiered on and finished in the bunch. Positive Pete seemed to have enjoyed himself a bit in the crappy conditions – closer to his native Dutch weather perhaps. Chris, however, was frozen solid – barely able to speak through chattering jaws. He grabbed a towel and headed straight for the showers to warm up. Final DS duties were to put the various bikes on the roof racks, remove and return the transponders and then bolt for the road back to Sydney. No-one was keen to hang around in the atrocious conditions.

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So, first NRS race done. It was good fun, though fairly busy. Dan’s clearly done sterling work earlier in the season as he’s usually the lone DS sorting out everything himself and also providing his physio skills and massages to the riders as required. Chris also put in a few hours a day after the stage collating and editing the various video footage into the daily vignettes. It was also nice seeing how well the team gel together, the joy when someone does well, the concern when Moosh had crashed and the disappointment and remorse when planned tactics didn’t work out. All sprinkled with liberal amounts of piss-taking of course!

Rookie DS, over and out 😀

NRS National Capital Tour – Day 2

Today was an early start, with the Men’s race scheduled for an 8.30am roll out. The 97km stage consisted of 14 laps of a circuit through the embassy district of Yarralumba before a jaunt across the Kings Avenue Bridge and a finish atop Black Mountain. The boys rode to the start so we drove down early to get the car prepared for convoy duties. We hadn’t been given our team car sticker yesterday, so we had to get that from the Commissaires and decorate the car. After a few attempts to get the sticker on straight and professional I gave up and accepted a little bit hanging over the edge of the screen :) Based on our results yesterday we’d been allocated position 12 of 19 in the convoy, so there were stickers to indicate that too.

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The morning had seemed quite chilly, but by the time the race started the sun was out and it had warmed up, so gilets got dumped before the flag waved for the start. The first third of the lap was flat with a hotdog turn, the middle third was rolling hills up to a KOM point and then final third was downhill, through a final roundabout and into the sprint line. The pace was on from the start with riders trying to get a breakaway established, but nothing stuck. Being at position 12 we only saw what was happening at the hotdog turn about 800m into the lap, so we were pleasantly surprised when we approached the turn and could see Jesse on the opposite side of the road, going solo off the front of the peloton. He managed to stay away for long enough to grab some sprint points, but the rest of the bunch shut it down shortly after that.

DS duties during the race amount to listening to race radio, hoping they don’t announce that one of your riders has a puncture. There were a handful of riders either getting punctures or getting dropped off the back of the bunch, so we also had to keep our eyes peeled for any riders coming back up through the convoy and either give them a short tow or get out of their way, depending on the situation. We also had to alert the cars in front of riders coming through by beeping the horn and deal with other team cars passing us either to get to a rider requiring a wheel change, returning to their spot in the convoy having looked after their rider or, in one case, towing back a rider who’d disappeared out the back – the classic sticky bottle!! All while accelerating and decelerating to keep up with the cars in front, who in turn are at the mercy of whatever speed the peloton decides to ride. You’ve got to have your wits about you at all times!

Dan dropped me off at the KOM point on Lap 10 so I could take a few photos of the peloton on the following laps, then picked me up again on Lap 12. By this stage Moosh was struggling a bit on the climb and the next time around he got dropped halfway up, but fought hard to go over the top still in the convoy. He got in behind our team car and got a short tow to the downhill section where he went around us and continued making his way back to the bunch. Unfortunately, at the final roundabout he got clipped by one of the other team cars and hit the deck hard. I saw it happen from our position and told Dan, “shit, Moosh is hit! Moosh is hit!” We pulled in behind the accident and ran to check on him, lying on his side and in quite a bit of pain.

Dan’s the physio and much better qualified than me to deal with accidents, so I turned traffic cop, waving the remaining cars in the convoy through until the race ambulance showed up. With the paramedic and Dan looking after Moosh, it fell to me to collect his bike, helmet etc. give it the once over and place it in the car, then stand around a bit uselessly hoping for the best. Putting my years of watching the Tour to good use, I recalled the heartlessness professionalism of some photographers and made sure to get some shots and do a quick piece to video in case Media Director Miller could use it in the day’s news report! After some thorough checks the paramedic was happy that Moosh didn’t need a hospital trip and could go home with us in the car.

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The race was over by this stage, so we drove to the top of Black Mountain to meet the guys and see how things had gone. Chris had been hoping for a decent result up Black Mountain, but the pace was super fast into the final, dodgy right-hander before the climb started and he ended up out of position, finishing in a bunch 1:30 down on the stage winner.

The guys rode back to the house as a warm-down and we drove back with Moosh. Once home Dan did a few more checks on Moosh’s hip and the decision was made to go to hospital to get it scanned as a precautionary measure, so they headed off with Pete to spend a few hours waiting in the emergency department. Myself, Jesse and Chris drove back into town get some lunch and then watch Ben and Grechy compete in the Open A race which was on the same course as the NRS race that morning, without the finish on Black Mountain. Both looked strong and Ben managed to get 9th in the sprint finish.

By this stage Moosh was back from hospital and had been given the all-clear – no hip fracture. Good news! With everyone back at the house and content to chill for a while, I headed off to catch up with a mate who lives in Canberra for a couple of hours. With the boys later deciding that pizza was the chosen dinner option, remaining DS duties for the day amounted to buying some more groceries to ensure we had food for breakfast, filling the car’s petrol tank for tomorrow’s stage and bringing home some well-deserved beer. Having one of your riders being hit by a car on Day 2 as a DS wasn’t ideal!

NRS National Capital Tour – Day 1

Squad

  • Jesse Coyle
  • Moosh Brown
  • Chris Miller
  • Peter Ritskes
  • DS1: Daniel Van Der Laan
  • DS2: Donncha Redmond

DS Report

This weekend was to be my first helping out the Men’s Team at a race since taking over as SUVelo’s Race Director, and doing so at an NRS-level race was a bit daunting. Qualifications for the role consisted of many years watching the Tour, the Giro and the Vuelta live, plus the Monuments, Pais Vasco, the Dauphiné, Romandie, Tour of Turkey and anything else Eurosport were happy to broadcast. Practical racing experience? The odd crit at Heffron! Thankfully I had Dan on hand to guide me tell me what to do. Dan had the slight advantage of

a) having done DS for a few races already,

b) having recently raced with the squad before an injury sidelined him,

c) being a qualified physio, and

d) being coach to most of the squad!

I was in good hands :-)

Friday morning saw me fire up the trusty Hyundai and swing by to pick up Moosh for the drive to Canberra. He was a bit concerned that there was no roof rack for his bike but there was plenty of room in the boot and I’d brought spare towels to keep it adequately swaddled. Traffic out of Sydney was surprisingly light and we made good time to the coffee rendezvous at Suttons Forest, where Moosh swapped with Dan who proceeded to fill me in on how stuff works in the NRS for the remainder of the journey.

Stage 1 was due to start at midday with a 7km ITT, so first DS duty of the weekend for myself and Dan was to meet the Chief Commissaire and get our team’s transponders and race numbers. That done, we had time for a quick bite to eat before returning to meet the guys at the TT course. Next step was to set up trainers for warm-up and fit transponders and race numbers to the bikes, followed by nabbing a spare front and rear wheel to go in the follow car and pumping them to correct pressure. Moosh was our first rider to start at 12:44 with Pete, Jesse and Chris following at roughly 20min intervals, which meant we’d be able to follow everyone with one car.

I brought the car up towards the start line and waited in line until Moosh reached the start ramp, then it was a case of watching the countdown and we were off. The course started flat, then long downhill, shorter uphill to the turnaround, then the same in reverse; short downhill, long uphill, into a headwind, then drag to the finish. Not sure of correct protocol I maintained a respectful distance, shouted the odd bit of encouragement out the window and completely forgot to switch on the GoPro. Moosh got caught by his minute man, so I had to pull over towards the end to get out of his way.

Pete didn’t want a follow car, so Jesse was up next. Dan joined me in the passenger seat and proceeded to show me the correct protocol by hanging out the window, constantly shouting encouragement and instructions along with grabbing some video footage for the evening’s stage report. While following Chris, we saw how it should be done, with the Avanti-Isowhey DS calmly sitting in the car issuing instructions to his rider over loudspeaker just like the pros :)

None of the riders were particularly happy with their efforts, with the headwind catching everyone out on pacing, it taking roughly 4:40 to get to the turnaround and 7:00 – 8:00 to get back. From a DS point of view, following a rider on a downhill with 100km/hr indicated on the speedo was a bit nerve-wracking!

Results

Jesse 11:41

Chris 12:11

Pete 12:32

Moosh 12:54

Race over, the riders headed back to our AirBnB while myself and Dan did the groceries, getting food to cook dinner, stuff for breakfast plus some mini-Cokes and water to have in the car in case the riders wanted them during the remaining stages. Dan cooked everyone dinner, I did the washing up, then it was early to bed ready for a 6am start the next day.

 

SUVelo at the Gran Fondo World Championships

A large contingent of SUVelo members made the journey to Perth to take part in the 2016 UCI Gran Fondo World Championships over the weekend. Racing either 105.8km or 154.5km, we had clubmates competing across most age categories. While most represented Australia, Rob Even and Peter Ritskes proudly wore the orange jersey of the Netherlands, Michael Tamaddoni the red, white and blue of the United States and Amanda Cleife the jersey of Great Britain.

Full results of the road race are available online but we want to acknowledge a few noteworthy results. Nathan Bonarius placed 10th in the 35-39 Men’s category in a hotly contested bunch sprint finish. Rebecca Brown claimed 21st in the 45-49 Women’s group and Nadine Reynolds 17th in the 40-44 Women’s group. And clearly unsatisfied with the challenge presented by the event itself, Andy Mathews managed to up the difficulty level by riding 100km while missing a pedal.

We’re really proud of all our members and friends who took part and congratulate them on their achievements.

Sarah Roy claims first win for Orica-AIS in Boels Ladies Tour

Roy wins stage four of the Boels Ladies Tour

SUVelo member Sarah Roy has won her first stage in Orica-AIS colours on stage 4 of the Boels Ladies Tour in the Netherlands. Sarah was part of a 14 rider breakaway that formed about 35km into the race. They worked well together and stayed clear of the peloton to ensure the winner would come from the group. Surviving attacks and counterattacks in the last few kilometres, Sarah timed her move perfectly to cross the line first in a bunch sprint.

Read more on Sarah’s great win at SBS Cycling and Orica-AIS, and enjoy her post-race interview on YouTube as well.

Ashfield Cycles Specialized Cup

The 2016 Ashfield Cycles Specialized A-Grade Podium

The Waratahs Masters Cycling Club hosted the annual Ashfield Cycles Specialized Cup at Eastern Creek on Saturday 4th September. With $6,000 worth of prizes up for grabs, it’s a hotly contested race in the Cycling NSW calendar. 161 riders competed across five grades, with SUVelo members racing in A, B, D and E grades.

A bunch sprint finish saw Georg Bienert, Chris Tune and Ben Wray finish 2nd, 5th and 6th respectively in A Grade. B Grade had a similar finish with Dylan Buckley grabbing 7th place. Well done to all members who raced and thanks to Waratahs Masters Cycling Club and Ashfield Cycles for another great edition of a fantastic event.

Cootamundra Classic

Squad

  • Sam Sautelle
  • Chris Miller
  • DS: Daniel Van Der Laan

A small team headed inland to Cootamundra for the annual Cootamundra Classic and the following day’s “Recovery” Ride. These state handicap weekends tend to attract a top class field and this year was no different with multiple NRS teams well represented, along with a mix of super strong regional riders.

Enjoy their video report!