Last weekend was the Mersey Valley Tour, the first race of the national road series. The VIS women (or @VIS_Chicks now, for all the cool kids) were running a skeleton operation due to a last-minute poaching job by Australian team coach Martin Barras.
With 2 weeks to go before the tour, our casualty list looked like this:
- Jo 'Schlecky Sister #1' Hogan: Pro team contract. Off winning races in Basque country.
- Kendelle 'TT Machine' Hodges: Glandular. Plotting return to domination from the VIS gym.
- Chloe 'The Enforcer' McConville: Jayco-AIS call up for enforcing duties in Belgium.
- Me: No fixed address. AWOL in Adelaide.
Luckily, a quick phone call to South Africa found VIS mountain biker Katherine O'Shea chilling on a spinal board following a bad crash at a world cup. Having nothing better to do than kick around in a neck brace, KAOS agreed to step back into the VIS road team for a celebrity appearance. Also joining the team was young gun Toni Abassogni, who was in the hunt for U19 worlds team selection. With Kendelle out of action and Jo and Chloe out of the country, I received a call that no cyclist wants to get in the middle of Easter.*
The call was from the Supercoach, with the general theme being that I had to be in Tassie, fitness or no fitness, because otherwise VIS wouldn't be able to fill a team. I don't like to disappoint the Supercoach, mainly because she is the one setting my ergo sessions and she can be vengeful. So off to Tassie we went.
Mersey Valley Tour was a 3-stage, 2 day affair involving more suffering than I care to remember and more rain that I care to ride in. It was lucky we were racing because I wouldn't have ridden in that weather if I'd had the choice. Fortunately, Supercoach and team mechanic Ryan Moody had everything running so smoothly that all I had to think about was how much I dislike riding in the rain. In other words, we were very well looked after.
Stage 1 was a Time Trial, stage 2 was a road race with a hilltop finish, and stage 3 was a longer road race with some hills. Given my preparation, I did not expect to go well. This was not being modest. This was a rational judgement call taking into account the ratio of pinot drinking to ergo time I'd been rocking the previous few weeks.** But I had underestimated the power of a great team, and we won the tour instead. There is an article about the racing here
if you like details. The moral of the story is: Always listen to your coach (and be mindful of ergo vengeance).
The reality of the tour was that I suffered like a dog, but since I hadn't suffered in a while the novelty overwhelmed the pain. Also, KAOS did an awesome job of keeping my nose out of the wind on the road stages. Congrats to VIS rider Alex Morgan who dominated the TT and last stage to wrap up GC in the U19 men. And to Miranda Griffith and Amy Bradley who were 2nd and 3rd GC respectively in elite women. And apologies to Miranda for having to pull a dirty sit-on job on the last stage. Miranda attacked late in the last stage and as she was my only time threat on GC I just had to go with her and sit on her wheel. I didn't know our GC times (there was a computer glitch which meant the race organisers didn't release standings or time gaps) and I hadn't remembered what the time bonuses were for stage wins, so I was flying blind. I've lost a tour before by not being au fait on time bonuses and I couldn't do it again. Luckily Miranda didn't lose as much sleep about it as I did, probably because she knows it is only 2 weeks until she can seek revenge on the hills on Murwillumbah in the next NRS race.
Thanks as always to the people who keep me and the VIS team going: Supercoach, Ryan Moody, Apollo, VIS, Fitzroy Revolution, St Mel, CCCC and Perfect Pilates. And to Anthony Klarica who has provided invaluable sports psych help over the past few weeks (I owe you a box of tissues Anthony).
And now... onto the exciting news. Well done for lasting this long - it's been a long post. You may remember me hammering on from time to time about race and recovery nutrition. I'm a bit of a recovery nerd. Tour riding is all about who can recover the best between stages, and one of the keys to good recovery is getting the right nutrition at the right time.
I'm pleased to announce that I will be partnering with ASCEND
this year as a brand ambassador. ASCEND is a group of scientists who make the best recovery products going around. I used their Elite Recovery drink and Protein Catalyst after every stage in Tassie. You can make your own mind up on their products, but for me the results speak for themselves. ASCEND is offering Ride Happy readers 15% off online orders at www.ascendsport.com.au - just put the code JACOBS in at checkout. Or you can hit me up at the next road or MTB race for a sample.
*Actually, despite the inherent risk that Easter chocolatiness poses to a climber, my Easter-egg-eating plans ended up being curtailed by FORGETFULNESS. You know who you are.
**I am not an alcoholic. But I do endorse the James Broadway Biodynamic Pinot Training Program, run with some success out of Gertrude St Enoteca in Fitzroy.