For those of you out there who love a challenge, I'm writing about the Alpine Assault, a new 100km event in the Victorian Alps, run by the guys that run Terra Australis and the Gravity 12-hour. It certainly had all the hallmarks of being an epic: 4,000m of descending and 3,000m of climbing (Ouchhhh!), all in a day's fun.
The only downside was it was on the same weekend as the Tour of Bright road race. Unfortunately some of the team had all ready committed to the road race leaving the remainder us to compete in the very first Alpine Assault. Most of the Torq team enjoyed the week prior to the race in Mt. Beauty riding our bikes, eating lots of food and having a bloody good laugh and riding our bikes some more (and yes, we even sunk a few low carb beers).
We were also running our very first client-based training camp for the public as a joint Torq / FTP training venture and felt the race would top off a massive week of loading quite nicely.
The event started at the top of Falls Creek and the weather gods had been very kind as it wasn't too cold and the sun was shining. We had everyone from the training camp racing and a number of our own Torq riders.
From my perspective, this is how the race unfolded. I had done part of this course before when I did Terra Australis and remembered it being challenging (thankfully, I had forgotten just how hard). The race got underway and everyone found their rhythm pretty quickly.
I was riding in group of four or five people. Torq's Jo Wall was one who went out pretty hard, sparring so to speak, with ex-team rider Tory Thomas, for the first 10km or so. From there another female Torq racer Jenni King caught up, but as she had pushed herself quite hard in doing so, she needed a breather and allowed a gap to open slightly to the group leaders.
I decided to make a conscious effort and close the gap to a more manageable state and also because I could see Craig Peacock (Team Merida) just in front of them, and he was in my Masters category and was the one to beat.
Jenni stayed with me, but we dropped Jo and the rest. The ride across the top of the Alps can only be described as breathtaking. The track was pretty hard and very rocky, making it difficult to keep a constant pace. While the views are glorious, the decent from the top of Falls Creek back down to Mt Beauty can only be described as brutal - very fast, very rocky and VERY scary.
If you had the guts, you got the glory on the descent and Jenni was flying scary fast and passed the guy Tory had been riding with and then caught Tory herself and pretty much stayed with her until the 70km mark.
Tory was riding very strong, and as we went through the feed station in Mt Beauty, Jenni was beginning to feel the heat and pace and decided to ride the climb at her own pace leaving me to see if I could close the gap on Craig Peacock. I passed Tory and pushed as hard as I could without blowing up on the 1,000m climb as I knew that Tory would close the gap on the descent - its her hometown and she knows the mountain bike park like the back of her hand.
For Jenni, her day got worse after doing so much hard work early on. Along with a few others, she missed the turn near the top of the 1,000m climb and carried on over the top adding an extra 20 minutes on to her time and allowing Jo to pass.
I managed to keep pushing and passed Craig on the descent getting back onto his bike and as expected could see Tory racing down the hill as fast as she could. She passed Craig on the singletrack so I smashed myself on every little pinch climb staying in front of both of them and conscious of saving some energy for the next hill climb, so I could attack again.
Tory caught up with me in the feed zone as I was filling my bottles up with Torq electrolyte (note: we were sponsoring the event and supplying energy drink and energy bars to riders).
I attacked again the moment I left the feed zone and pushed as hard as I could up the next big hill climb putting a few minutes into her and Craig. I carried on - pushing all the way home back down through the mountain bike park and singletrack. Unfortunately, I had a nice stack and went over the bars in the last kilometer, getting very carried away knowing the end was in sight. Thankfully, I had done enough work on the climb to keep them out of sight and finish first in masters category to Craig's disgust. Tory was first female followed by Jo and then Jenni, who was left damning her wrong turn.
This was a great event! It was very hard and very challenging, but we all had a blast and not just our team. Riders, including everyone from the camp, also finished after a massive week of loading. Well done to everyone who came on the camp, fellow riders and everyone else involved with Torq.