12 January 2008

Australian Women's Timetrail

After tossing and turning all night, I awoke to another beautiful day. I always find it hard to sleep when it’s 28’c at midnight. And to top it off, the hotel I am staying at, put me in a room above most of the fridge units for the pub next door. So opening a window at night, was a deafening experience, and the air conditioning was just as loud, so I was made the most of it and enjoyed the early morning. Before too long, the sun was up, and so was the temperature, only about 32’c, and climbing. The wind was starting to blow, and I finally figured out where the heat was coming from. In NZ, the country is so skinny, that we get a sea breeze from all points on the compass, cooling you down with every breath. Here in Ballarat (about 100km inland from Melbourne), when the wind blows, it comes form the huge hot center, the wind may have taken days to reach me, heating up along the way. My mind is telling me there is a cooling wind blowing, but my skin is telling me that the wind is drying me out and taking whatever energy I thought I had left. Oh well, I keep cool by telling myself, half of the team is up to their ears in snow, I am still in a better place.

Alexis, ready for the start, with her race face on.

So the bikes were sweet, all two of them. Kind of nice spending a few hours, fettling, polishing and tuning two bikes, instead of ten or so I normally have for a TT. But the bikes sure needed it, not to hassle the last mechanics who worked on the bikes, but you can read between the lines in this case. The under 23 boys were out on the course when we arrived, and I just managed to see them standing on the podium, they were looking wasted. Both from the heat, and the effort they had put in, the Women had the prime time, middle of the day to contend with, it was going to be hot out there today, with temperatures around 40’c. The riders for the day were, Oneone and Alexis, both of them capable of an excellent TT, and both of them deffinately in the top ten. With 28km for the race, things were going to be tough right from the start. The course started with a nasty climb, it sounded bad, but those with the right training should have no real trouble.

At the halfway point, 14km to go.

I was to tail Alexis in the car, Oneone had her state team to look after her. Alexis was about the tenth seed, and we had a few good riders in front of her. I gave my usual instructions, stay safe, ride hard and make sure you catch at least two riders in front of you. It seemed to work, as she caught the first rider by the time we reached the top of the hill. The course continued in almost a square like fashion, but it seemed like it went slightly up for about 24km out of the 28. And the best thing is the wind was blowing just enough to make the pain never go away. Alexis was looking good on the bike, the first climb seemed to drag on for ages, but the plan was to take it easy. There was then a slight false flat for the next 20km. A couple more riders caught, which is the best thing when your on the road. A few more corners, a railway crossing, and then a bit of a nice descent. In fact, the last 5km were almost all downhill, I am sure that she was looking forward to it, just as much as we were. The last little roller, Alexis was out of the seat like a champ, giving it everything she had before the big down. And what a blast, I had made sure I had got the 11 working (for those non-cyclists, it’s like a car having two more gears past the 5th gear). With a top speed of 78km/hr, she was flying, I had all my fingers crossed, hoping she was not going to bounce off the road. But she survived, and stomped her way to the finish.

Oneone looking strong, 100m before the finish.

The announcer spat out her time, giving her the fastest so far, 41.55, but there were a few more riders to come in. And most of them were better time-trailists. We waited, and the last few blasted through the finish. And it was good, a fantastic result, Bronze medal, loosing to 2nd place getter and old Olympic Champion Sara Carrigan by a tiny 0.01 seconds, with first place not too far away, Bridie O'Donnell on 41.41. Oneone’s race was not so good, right from the start, she could not get her focus. On the start, while holding her upright, they counted down the last ten seconds. On second number five, they decided to let her go, she tried to balance, but lost her footing. With three more riders to go (they leave at 1 minute intervals), they gave her some time out, started her last. I was wondering why she was late coming in, seems she couldn’t get going. She was still looking good through the finish, sitting well, flying.

From left,2nd Sara Carrigan, 1st Bridie O'Donnell and third Alexis.

More TT pics here. Next up the Men’s TT, with my only rider, Adam Hansen.

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