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17
Jul

Tandem Project Update

Tristan and Jessye’s Epic 1000km

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Report by Pilot Tristan Fergusson

On May 5th – 15th Jessye Campbell and I rode from Geelong to Glenelg with 20 other riders raising money for Camp Quality in the inaugural South Australian 1000ks4kids.

Day 1 started with a lovely tail wind and sunshine, which we had to savour because the future forecast did not look good. It was a beautiful ride to Apollo Bay, with nothing more than some rolling hills. The main attraction was constantly looking to the left to take in the breathtaking view of the coast. As the trusty pilot it was also my role to constantly give audio descriptions to Jessye so she didn’t miss out.

Day 2 was the hard day and the last of the “nice” weather. Apollo Bay to Port Campbell saw the two biggest climbs of the trip. It was a tough day but with Jessye firing on all cylinders we were able to make it through. Day 3 was when all the bad weather that Adelaide had been experiencing that weekend made its way across the coast and hit us like a tonne of bricks. It was a slow and very VERY wet day with most of us resembling drowned rats at the end in Port Fairy. Day 4 the rain had eased up but we were not out of the woods, with a brutal head wind. The group rode as a tight bunch protecting each other with the stronger riders out the front coping most of it, as we made our way into Portland. Bad news hit us in Portland with the weather taking a turn for the worst. With 100km/h cross wind gusts and 60km/h head winds on roads that had the logging trucks driving up and down it, the organisers had to pull the pin on the days riding and we all got a bus into Mount Gambier. Once arriving most of the group put on the kit and managed to get a 50km ride in around the blue lake and neighbouring farm land.

The rest of the ride was amazing. Jessye’s strong riding day-in and day-out was nothing short of inspiration, considering she hasn’t been in the sport for long! We got rid of most of the rain and only had to contend with the brutal headwinds but that didn’t bother the group with spirits constantly high. The ride was a testament to the amazing group of people riding and the incredible support team that kept us fed, watered and safe!

The highlight of the ride, and something that I will never forget, is the police escort all the way down Brighton Road and into Glenelg. I remember turning left near the Watermark and being hit with such an intense wave of emotion seeing the huge number of people that turned up to see us. The final total of money raised was 143,000 dollars.

Fun and Frivolity with the Skinny Lattes

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The Tandem Project has achieved important progress in regards to athlete advocacy. When the project first started, there was only one cycling club that was willing to provide us with an opportunity to race – and this was for time trials only. Three months later, another club allowed us to nominate to race, this time in a road race. The attitude towards us was one of great skepticism and worry. Were we dangerous; would we crash; would we create mayhem and confusion if passing, or in being passed by the graded single bikes? At the end of a year we had achieved powerful change within many of the Cycling South Australia clubs. One club however was particularly welcoming and encouraging of us – the Skinny Lattes. The Skinny Lattes had an understanding of us that is probably borne of their own mission statement to encourage women to take on the sport. In this respect, both organization are committed to a cause which champions equal opportunity. The Mercedes-Benz team has since gone on to launch an elite women’s team which competes at a National Road Series level – providing the only pathway to this level of racing outside of the South Australian Sports Institute. The team remains as the only private team in Australia to run a squad to support vision impaired athletes. Racing with the Skinny Lattes in their competition series fulfills our commitment to advocating for fully integrated racing for our vision impaired athletes. We were notified recently, that our tandems have been given the green light to compete against the single bikes in future CSA races.

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17
Jul

Elite Women’s Update

Berri – Tour of the Riverland

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Race Report by Madeleine Steele

One of the most prestigious races on the South Australian road cycling calendar is the Tour of the Riverland. It’s slowly becoming one of my favourites. The 86 kilometre handicap begins and ends in the town of Berri with every rider, no matter their ability, offered the same chance of winning the tour title due to the staggered start.

This year, Mercedes-Benz Adelaide Blackchrome (MBAB) Cycling Team had four representatives on the handicap’s start line – Victoria Veitch, Steve Sabine, Alana Haansbergen and myself, Madeleine Steele. Alana and I began 24 minutes in front of the fastest men in the field (scratch) and our small group worked hard together to make it as far down the road as we could before we could be caught. At about the halfway mark, the 15-minute group came flying past and the MBAB team was reunited. For Victoria and Steve, this was a small victory but there was much work left to do. For Alana and myself, this was a chance to jump on, sit in for a bit and hope for the slightest bit of recovery as the race would only continue to increase in intensity.

One of the most interesting points of the handicap always happens at Loxton. The U-turn in this Riverland town allows everyone to see where they stand as they pass each other on the road. Our group of about thirty riders was keeping a fierce pace and with 30km to go the bunch still had a handy lead of over three and a half minutes on scratch. This information put the slightest bit of extra fire power into the legs of the worker bees on the front.

Unfortunately, this pace didn’t last all the way to the line. Whether it was due to tired legs, a lack of riders willing to work, ‘foxing’ for the finish or a combination of all three; the group slowed up with five kilometres to go. Victoria and Steve had done so much to keep the group working, and Alana had lost her brave fight to stay on after Loxton.

As we took the final turn and with under 3km to the finish, our group was caught by a reduced bunch from scratch. I was still there to see the fast men pass but there was no response in my poor little (big) legs to accelerate with them. The commotion leading to the sprint caused a crash that left Victoria also split from the surging bunch.

As the MBABC riders rolled across the line, it was mixed emotions for everyone. Victoria and I were left with the bitter disappointment of coming so close to getting in the money. This was my second Berri and the second time my race had finished after the final turn. Meanwhile, Alana in her first Berri, had discovered just how intense the ride could become once bunches start catching bunches. The fact that each of us stayed on our bikes right to the line is something to be grateful for.

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Day two of the Tour of the Riverland offered a different challenge – a 40km graded road race around the town of Lyrup in the scrub. There was disappointment for Victoria who always hopes for a decent climb or two, but for myself there was only excited anticipation for the short, flat race that would play to my strengths.

Victoria took off with the C-Grade bunch around 9:45am. Unfortunately, with a large bunch of burly men to contend with and no bumps in sight – it was not Victoria’s day for glory. The D-Grade bunch headed off with some punchy attacks from a few different riders to get things going. The stronger riders in the field worked to pull back each attack and the fatigue that built in the field led to an inconsistent pace. With five kilometres to go and the field together, I moved up through the field hoping that there wasn’t too much fatigue in my legs from chasing down attacks. Yes, that’s right, I worked! I continued to move up and liked my chances more and more the closer we came to the finish. A final attack from the USG team increased the pace again but the group stayed together and by 1km to go, it was all happening. At 500m to go I was in the second row, feeling good but completely boxed in. I had two options; sit in or hit the dirt. I chose to sit in and concede the win. Then, with less than 100 metres to the finish, the gap opened and I took my chance. With 20 metres to go I hit the front and took first place and first woman over a local Riverland lad, and a SASI scholarship holder, Maeve.

For myself, it was the perfect way to finish a fun weekend of fast racing. I’m not quite sure if we have convinced Victoria to head back to Berri next year but you never know though… Next year could be her year.

2016 CSA State Titles

The State Titles clashed with the Battle of the Border, resulting in some key absences, most notably TT specialist Lucy Barker who generally wins the TT. So while our Battle team was suffering the disappointment of stage cancellations due to a mammoth series of storm fronts hitting the QLD/NSW border, the MBAB ladies were experiencing idyllic weather at Parawa. Unfortunately good weather doesn’t magically absolve time trialling from being a completely rubbish discipline! Pain faces galore could be seen grinding their way from start to finish line, but many happy faces could be seen once it was all over. The team was represented in the Masters division by Michele Bloffwitch who scored a silver medal, while Victoria Veitch huffed and puffed her way to Bronze in the elite division, feeling very sheepish in not representing the team half so well as Lucy would have done.

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The State Road Race was a completely different affair. The course was obviously chosen by a genius! The Parawa course was comprised of a constant stream of climbs of various lengths and gradient, but none more impressive than the 4km climb to the finish line. The team had three goats on the start line – Christina, Narelle and Victoria. The weather however was not going to be cooperative with Parawa living up to its reputation as having SA’s highest annual rain fall – it was absolutely pouring on the start line. The initial part of the course was quite treacherous – a steady downhill in the wet and strong cross winds all the way to Strathalbyn. An unofficial truce was agreed to by the riders – no aggressive moves from the ‘heavy hitters’ of the field. The MBAB ladies didn’t ride beyond a general tempo pace, but the inclement conditions still saw the field splinter, with many riders too nervous to keep pace with the lead bunch on the descent. By the time the front of the race reached the bottom of the long windy descent, only four riders remained in the front bunch – the entire MBAB contingent and Jenny Macpherson.

Christina succumbed to the climbing pace on one of the steady climbs out of Strathalbyn. From that point forward it was steady turn-taking between the remaining three riders. Jenny was having a very poor time of things – a stomach bug had begun to take effect, and Jenny was throwing up every time she tried to take a drink. While not a hot day, the effects of not being able to keep hydrated, not to mention the effects of the virus itself, would have severely hampered Jenny’s ability to contest the race to her full capacity.

So then, it was a gutsy effort by Jenny to dig in when MBAB’s two top climbers, Narelle and Victoria, hit the final four 4kms. Essentially, Victoria’s approach to the race was that her race didn’t actually start until that point, and there was only one tactic that she was going to use – go straight to climbing threshold and stay there. The assumption being that eventually, she would slowly get a gap and keep it until the finish line. The gap however was created straight away. As soon as Victoria went to threshold, she rode away from Narelle and Jenny. Jenny then hung onto Narelle, who was also employing a similar tactic but just with a slightly slower threshold climbing speed. Team Manager Simon Veitch was in the follow car, and he reported that it could be clearly seen when Jenny finally cracked. A dip of her head and a sudden gapping from Narelle’s wheel and the race had determined 1st, 2nd and 3rd place. The three ladies each crossed the finish line with approximately a minute between each rider. The results gave the team gold and silver in the Elite State Road Race, but also returned the series leader jersey to Victoria.

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Battle of the Border

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Race Report by Lucy Barker

The first round of the Battle of Border Pace was on from the start with numerous attacks straight out of the neutral over the lumpy terrain and descents covered in potholes, but nothing was ever going to get away with the first sprint so early at 23km. Attacks continued but this just upped the overall speed making positioning vital.

The short climb and damp descent before the first QOM (affectionally known as ‘The Wall’) started to split the field, however it was on the descent after the QOM where the decisive splits happened. The timing of the rain starting could not be worse if it tried! Those who made it over and were able to take it at full pace or those having it to be much more cautious as the road instantly became like glass.

Holly continuing her run of excellent form, making the front group and working well to finish 14th just 10seconds behind stage winner Sophie Mackay.

Lucy and Jess using all their motivational tactics to keep their group chasing, however the damage had already been done, costing them 10minutes by the finish, placing 51st and 54th respectively.

Having spent most of last evening weather watching it was obvious that stage 2 would be cancelled to allow emergency services to prioritize the inevitable local area flooding. We await to see what tomorrow brings!

Round Three SLCC Series Hill Climb

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The ‘powers that be’ were divinely inspired in scheduling a hill climb into the Skinny Lattes Road Series. The series has a fair distribution of races between flat and hilly road courses. The hilly races are to the obvious advantage of the MBAB ladies, and there was no doubting this when the results were in. The top three places of the Elite classification were filled by MBAB riders; Victoria in 1st, and Narelle and Christina taking out 2nd and 3rd respectively. There were some other notable efforts. SASI rider Dani McKinniry decided she was feeling strong enough to do the climb on a flat back wheel – the reality being that there was enormous relief to find a flat back wheel at the top of the climb rather than think the climb had just been the hardest climb EVER! Madeleine Steele in Elite, and Michele Bloffwitch in A Grade both powered through what is generally NOT their preferred discipline. Well done to all that turned up in such chilly circumstances.

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2016 NRS Grafton to Inverell

The team’s most significant result for the NRS season thus far has come in the spectacular winning of the women’s Grafton to Inverell Classic by team rider Holly Ranson. This race was an epic 236km road race which was only one week after the tumultuous Tour of Mersey Valley. Holly, who spent the 2015 season dealing with a chronic fatigue issue has signalled her comeback to the sport in emphatic fashion!

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