The Club has just been announced as the overall NSW Club Team Time Trial Champions after our impressive performances resulted in our 6 teams achieving 4 podiums and the other two teams placing 12th and 14 respectively. It is now official – as a club we have the best team time triallers in the NSW.

 The club achieved the following results:

Elite Men third Overall with the riders being Jake Kauffman, Dan Bonello, Andy Crawley and Oli Dharme- Ratne, unbelievably when i saw them at the finish and asked how they went, they were all disappointed and told me they failed – if third is failure, i will happily be part of that team.

Womens Masters second overall. This team only started with the bare minimum of 3 riders and so all of them had to finish together. In an epic display of courage, these ladies dug deep and buried themselves for the 40km in order to come back with the silver medal. The team consisted of Trudy Van Der Straaten, Martinette Van Vuuren and Elly Gillis. Elly was actually competing in her first ever TT and only her second ever bike race – so a magnificent effort with a big future in front of her.

Mens Masters second overall. Only a tiny 6 seconds separated the team of JJ Hazelton, Alex Gardner, Ross Chaffer and Jarrod Crosby from first place. This team were ranked second in the rankings leading into the event, however they were beaten by the favourites of Penrith CC. Fantasic effort by these guys who faced a very windy course from those who started earlier in the day.

 Norbs on the podium

Masters 150+ third overall. This team has to have a minimum cumulative age of the 3 youngest Masters riders of 150 years. This team had a few last minute mechanicals and changes, however it wasn’t enough to stop them getting on the podium. The riders were Norbert Gerold, Paul Mandl, John Miller and Antoni Mikac.

The club had two other entries in the Masters age division and below is the race report from Chris Miller who was part of the team that came 12th overall out of 44 teams in the Masters division with the assistance of Peter Livanes, Graham deCarvalho and Tim LaForest. The final team was Nick Gatland, Richard Bjorkmann, Chris Taylor and Alexis Kaless who came 14th overall.

NSW Cycling, unlike Victorian, doesn’t seem to offer many events that are 1. Two hours or less from the capital and 2. targeted at the standard B Grade club racer. You seem to either be headed to Mudgee, Cootamundra and Bathurst, or finding yourself on a start list with NRS riders.

This weekend was refreshingly different, with Nowra (2 hours on a good run) hosting the Club Team Time Trial, an event that had a nice mix of novelty value and competitive representation.

Preparation and Equipment

It’s probably safe to say we didn’t have the most ideal preparation; between one of riders on a three week wine and cured meats tour of southern Italy, and the British and Irish Lions tour taking its toll on weekend training rides (and midweek ones for that matter), it’s safe to assume we were well ‘tapered’ for the race.
 
That said, we managed two solid training sessions in Centennial Park, working on some semblance of a “formation”. From these sessions we determined it was key to avoid “surging” when taking over from someone, and to maintain clear and consistent communication.
 
Equipment-wise, Tim (tour de cured meats) had managed to swindle his father into “lending” him a Cannondale Slice, while Pete (Cervelo S5) and Grahame (Orbea Orca) had aero road bikes with aero-bars.
 
IMG_3394
 
Thanks to Darren Crouchley (formally of Cranks fame) I was rolling a 2008 Giant Trinity with a lovely set of TWE carbon tubulars. Darren also managed to build the bike, slap on a home-made seat post clamp, and dial it into my measurements … see, there are some proper LBS left!
 
I’d had one ride on a TT bike over a year ago, but the Trinity was a big step up. The setup was far more aggressive, though strangely, I felt more stable than the roadie/aero-bar setup I had used at Calga two months ago.
 
The course itself was very much an unknown quantity, by looking at last year’s times we gauged that 1 hour for the 40km race was our marker, however the out-and-back nature of the course was described as “roughly uphill” on the way out, and downhill on the way back.
 
Pre-Race
 
We gave ourselves plenty of time to drive down, sign in and warm up, and with Nowra a pretty easy trip these days, we found ourselves with a solid hour and half to get prepped. 
 
After readying the bikes we headed out on a 10km reccy of the course, at which point we learnt two things: 1. it was windy;and 2. it wasn’t “roughly” uphill to start, it was just uphill.
 
Another nice bonus of being there early was that it provided good opportunity to figure out our formation for the first 5km. We identified some ideal spots for the first few changeovers (something we really struggled with in Centennial Park), and determined what speed/effort level was suitable. We also got to see Team Pres (MWCC Club Sec Alexis’ team) head out of the start blocks; we had a friendly wager with Team Pres so we offered some vocal “support” as they rolled out.
 
In no time though, it was 15:28 and the start was upon us… 
 
Out Lap
 
It’s not often (if ever) you get to stand on the start line with your team mates in a fairly individual sport like cycling, however there wasn’t time to get emotional about the circumstance as the starter counted down 5-4-3-2-1-“Roll Out”!
 
The plan was for me to take the team out of the industrial estate and up the first 1km rise, handing over to Laf at the crest. We set a solid enough pace up the first rise, however, it was at the 5km marker with a 1km rise @ 5% gradient that set the first of many cats amongst the pigeons.
 
Pete had not been riding as much as the rest of the team over the last few months, so we knew he was going to find the early stages tough. His heart rate quickly went to scary places but he managed to hang on over that first rise. We got ourselves back into formation for the next 6km of relatively flat terrain, even setting up an echelon to deal with the blustery crosswind. 
 
The 12km marker though would bring 4km of 4-5% gradient, a rise that would prove a bit too much for Pete. He fought bravely to get over the first few crests, but the constant uphill nature of the out lap would prove too much and sadly, Pete was dropped at the 14km marker.
 
So four became three, and whilst we lost the ability to share an extra turn, we gained communication advantage as the third wheel rider was more audibleby the rider on the front.
 
The challenge was always to try and hold an average speed of 40km/hr, but the undulating terrain kept us in the low 30’s; that said we made the 18km turn around at 30:12min.
 
Heading for Home
 
As we turned for the return leg, the boys were fired-up. We were pumped setting ourselves the target of the two teams we could see ahead of us. Our enthusiasm was temporarily put on hold as Decs let out an almighty curse. Tim and I thought the worst (mechanical), however a couple of seconds of freewheeling saw Decs re-join the group. It seemed his left calf was cramping (most probably a result of his bread, water and vita-wheat diet) so he would need to be nursed for at least the next few kilometres.
 
Darren had put a 54 tooth TT chain ring on the Trinity for me, at the time I didn’t think much of it, but on the return leg it proved to be worth its weight in gold. I was able to sit on the front for long spells, especially on the false downhills, taping out a heavy pace, with the lads coming through at short intervals to slingshot me for another tilt.
 
We comfortably (well…relatively) could sit in the mid-50km/hrs on the way back, as we overtook a Sydney CC team around the 35km mark.
 
The Final Push
 
The course organisers had a nasty surprise awaiting riders at the 36km mark, just beyond the start/finish line where the course included an out and back of the airport road. It was at this point that Tim, who had been managing his efforts well, decided to bark a random instruction, which Decs and I thought was “slow down”, followed by Tim coming from third wheel into the lead position, hammering himself for a solid 30seconds. Queue the arrival of “Casper the Ghost”; that 30 second effort sent Laf beyond the red zone, he now looked like a pale, foaming shell of a man…and we still had a tough 4km to do.
 
I felt strong enough at this point, so it was up to Decs in second wheel to communicate to me how Casper was doing (the ghost himself had lost the power of speech).
 
We rounded the airport turn around and made the final push for the line, with our heart rate monitors reading figures the Australian Cricket top order could only dream of, we managed to fan out across the line, slumping in the run-off area.
 
When It Was All Said And Done
 
In our excitement on the start line, none of us had remembered to hit the start button on our Garmin, so we all had misleading indicators of our finishing time, so it wasn’t until the next morning we learned that our time of 1:02:35 had placed us 12th in the All Ages Masters division, which we were absolutely delighted with!
 
As for the event itself, it was probably one of the best that the team had done. The novelty of being able to ride with your mates in a competitive fashion will not get old for me, and the slick gear is quite addictive as well.
 
My only suggestion would be to run the event in the warmer months when people are more likely to stay around and have a bbq and beer after the race.
 
That said, we will definitely be back to race again next year.