Australia, January 19, 2005
I am back from Melbourne and Adelaide and the two weeks went very quickly. Just as the off-season and pre-season did. Time just flies in this sport. Now in just a week's time I'm off to Malaysia.
Between Christmas and New Year I did my usual cramming for km's but this year especially, I didn't go overboard. Every day we headed out with a big group and got a nice 5-6 hours in, nice and steady. Then towards the end of the week, I threw in the odd effort or two. After a solid five day block I got a chance to enjoy New Year's Eve and went to Manly, in Sydney's Northern Beaches to a mate's house, Millsy. Drinks with friends, a few yarns, and a pretty ordinary display of fireworks on the harbour (well compared to 2000) New Year's Eve was a good night. New Year's Day was spent out on the Harbour in the 35 degree heat with prawns, oysters and drinks, hard day! No training on this day as I never have, ever! Too many drunk drivers in Sydney on this day.
After a few days recovery it was off to Melbourne for my seventh Jayco Bay Series. I was riding for the MIB Docklands team along with Sydney mates Harro and Anthony 'the dog' Challinor, and two New Zealanders Aaron and Graeme. The first night, we were put up by Al in Melbourne before heading to Williamstown for the first lung opener of the year. That didn't eventuate in the end, as it rained on the start line and after a few dodgy laps I was outta there to save my skin. I rode to the hotel in Geelong with a few of the boys into a devastating headwind. I was on the front doing 30km/h absolutely red lining it.
Bay crit number 2 was Portarlington. In the morning I did a two hour brew shop ride before relaxing for a few hours and then riding to the race. So this race was my first official hitout for the year. The Bay Crits are hard enough on their own, without coming here unfit. Normally I have had one club race and done a few more efforts before coming here and still struggle, but due to a late start to the season and injury I haven't raced and barely done any efforts. I got to about halfway through the race before my legs and lungs blew up and called it a day. Once again there were only 25 or so finishes. The wind proved tough conditions, but it didn't worry Dave McKenzie who won there again for I think his third time.
Day three and the legs were a tad sore but I still headed out for four hours in the morning before the Geelong hot dog crit at night. This one was doubling up for the Aussie crit tittle, and it was good to see Dave McPartland, the guy no-one can say a bad word about, get up for a win after attacking with five or so laps to go to win solo. I went slightly better again, getting three quarters of the way through the race. More importantly, getting another big day under the belt.
I headed out for another four hours on day four and then slept for four hours. Harro, Ant and I all passed out for four hours to wake up an hour before the start of the hilly Geelong crit. A few coffees later and we were on the line. I wasn't feeling too bad and it was obvious the legs were getting better every day. I finished in the remnants of the main group comfortably. McEwen took his second win and wrapped up the series.
After a 180km day and a hard crit, the legs were average for the last crit at the Docklands in Melbourne. I rode down the highway to the start with a big group and this time we had a tail wind. In the crit I just didn't have the legs and only went halfway. Hilton Clarke got the win he wanted. Once again there were less than 30 finishers. There was also not one bunch finish. I am happy the way the form is heading and rapt with the week's training.
Like previous years, the last night of the Bay crits there is a Gala dinner and as usual it was a great night. Also a good chance to dress up in the 'bag of fruit' (suit).
On the Monday I headed to Adelaide to stay with Russ before the National's. I was greeted with 40 degree temperatures, which were a pleasant surprise after the usual "four seasons in one day" in Melbourne. Wednesday was the National Time Trial Champ's and after a four hour ride I followed my team mate Russ in the car. After a far from perfect prep, he turned himself inside out and rode great to finish third. This to back up his South Aust Road Championships he won a week previously. The next few days consisted of group training rides, coffee stops in Rundle street, lunch in Rundle street, and come to think about it, we spent a fair bit of time in Rundle street.
Before the National Road Title I was far from confident and didn't know what to expect. I had done a fair bit of training the few weeks previous but didn't know if that was enough. The race was on from the gun around this hard and undulating circuit with rough roads. No break would go, especially when everyone wanted to be in it, including all the big hitters. On lap four a break was formed before the climb and a group came across on the climb to make 16 riders in the front. Russ and I were there along with 12 other pro's out of the 16 riders. The two others were Chris Sutton, who eventually took out the U/23 title, and Peter McDonald from Sydney, who put in an awesome and impressive ride. The break worked well together and the bunch never saw us again.
With four laps to go the attacks started and I was travelling ok. With three laps to go, on the climb it split into three smaller bunches and I just didn't have the legs to go with the front guys. Robbie took a well deserved win with Cadel doing a great job for him and finishing in fourth. I was eleventh and happy with that after not the best prep coming in. I didn't know what to expect and to be apart of the race at the pointy end, I'm happy.
I am now back in Sydney and up a big week of km's. Seeing I can't ride the Tour Down Under thanks to the selectors, I am forced to get form for Malaysia by doing solo km's here. I did get Big Steve Wooldridge out for a hard 200km today and will do the bunch ride tomorrow, so it should only be a few days where I head out for 5-6 hours solo. I am looking forward to the Tour de Langkawi and should be travelling well, even if it is riding on the front of the bunch for 10 days for my teammates.
Lets hope that's the case like last year.