Tour de Tablelands 2008

Gillies Ranges Lookout

Yesterday morning Alberto, Shane and I went for a beautiful scenic recovery ride on our old training grounds in Cairns and then had coffee and breakfast in Edge Hill. While sitting in this very nice little cafe Alberto advised Shane to write down all the things that went well and all the things that might have been a mistake and could be done better in future and provide a learning opportunity.

Shane found his name in the local paper as the overall winner of his grade – I know a Tour champion! 🙂

That’s such a good advise that I decided to do this before the memory fades so here is my race report for my 2008 Tour de Tablelands and my learning opportunities:

Stage 1: Yungaburra – Tinaroo Dam and back – Road Race 46 km

I have to learn to get a handle on pre-race nerves. I was waaayyyy to excited and my heart rate therefore a lot higher than it should have been. Subsequently I used a lot more energy and my muscles were more tense, which doesn’t help performance. I was conscious of this and tried to control it through deep breathing and conscious relaxation of my muscles. Still, my average heart rate in my first stage was highest of all five stages with 166 bpm.

The speed was high and it was very windy. By the halfway mark our 39 rider strong grade was decimated to ten riders. I was sitting comfortable in the back. The climb out from Tinaroo Dam wasn’t as hard as I remembered from previous years. Once back on the flat roads amongst sugar cane fields the wind blow relentlessly in our faces and six strong guys started a rolling paceline to keep the speed up. Ten kilometers to the finish and I started struggling. I knew I wasn’t able to pull through to take turns so I scrambled for every wheel in the back. I did this for about several minutes and then started loosing the wheels. Once a gap of three meters appeared there was no energy left to bridge it and no one behind me to help. So with six kilometers to go I found myself all alone dropped from the front group. Another three riders had dropped from the front group a little earlier than I did so I waited for them and joined them to the finish line. I finished 7th but had lost time to the first six guys.

Three points I have to learn from this: 1) I have to work on controlling pre-race nerves. 2) I might have been able to dig this little bit deeper and stayed with the front group so I have to work on mental toughness. 3) I was dehydrated after the stage so I didn’t drink enough. The fact that I felt good and comfortable with the speed up until ten kilometers to go suggests that I might have not drunk enough, which might have caused me to start struggling?

Stage 2 – Bean Tree Road – Individual Time Trial – 4 km

Let’s not talk about the ITT. Before the stage I was seriously considering giving up cycling. I felt crap. I did not want to get back on my bike. I didn’t even bother putting my time trial bars on. It was too windy. I was down and tired and had headaches (dehydration). I tried to get some energy from First Endurance Pre-Race but it made me feel dizzy. 4 km – 7 minutes of pain – that was my goal. My time was 7:19 minutes and I was disappointed but glad it was over for the day.

Don’t know what to learn from this experience except that my time wasn’t too bad compared with the other girls. The best female time was 7:10 min (from memory) so after the time trial I was 3rd woman but only with seconds separating us.

Stage 3 – Curtain Fig Tree Loop – Road Race 44 km

I woke up with a bad headache the next morning and didn’t feel rested or recovered at all. However, my nervousness had settled completely and within the first few kilometers of the stage I realised that my legs felt good and the headache had disappeared. I stayed in top ten positions all the time, protected from the strong wind and conserving as much energy as possible. I anticipated the six strong riders to get away again. My guess was that someone would attack after the second intermediate sprint and I was right and ready. When the break went I jumped on and kept my head down. It was so hard to stay on those strong guy’s wheels. My legs were burning, I was breathing heavily but I dug deep and stayed. Five kilometers of pain and then we turned back into the road that took us back to the finish line. I turned around – nobody in sight. I looked ahead – all guys. Yes, I was the only women who had survived the attack. All I needed to do now was stay with them to the finish. I was happy with that effort and the fact that I had put time into all other girls.

Points I have to learn from this: 1) I can dig deeper when it counts and it pays off! 2) Always check the bike before the race. My bottle holder started rattling. The cheese grater roads of Far North Queensland had loosened the screws. I got really annoyed with myself for not checking as this happened before and I did think of it but then forgot. 3) Keep the focus on the task at hand and do not get distracted by loose bottle holders.

Stage 4 – Yungaburra Criterium

I was highly motivated for the criterium, had warmed up properly on the wind trainer and had a race plan to stay with the other girls defending my time gap and conserving energy for the last stage. I know that I’m not a very good criterium racer. My cornering skills are not flash. Then I had the worst possible start. By the time I managed to clip in half the field was around the first corner. I had to chase right from the start and my cornering was even worse than usual. I kept my position but got lapped by the same six front guys (everybody did) but also lapped a number of people. I wasn’t happy with my criterium but really enjoyed hearing Alberto’s voice on the sideline every single lap.

Things to learn: 1) Work on my cornering and bike handling skills. 2) Work on cadence. Bruce called me “Ullrich” after the race. He said I’m pushing far too big gears and have to learn to spin more. He is right.

Stage 5 – Yungaburra – Malanda – Atherton-Herberton Highway and back – 64 km Road Race

I woke up ready and charged. The race was great. I raced smart. I knew the last 10 km would be hard so I was patient and just sat in. The first 20-30 km were so easy that my heart rate was hovering in E1. But then a three man break got away and the chase was on. Approaching the King of the Mountain I charged up the hill in second wheel but then got swamped and decided to not push to the limit. I got over the crest but had to chase back on as the speed was high. With only 15 km to the finish I was on the rivet. I was hoping I would get a chance to recover somewhat before feared Rankine’s Hill, a 8-9% climb about 6 km from the finish line. Traditionally this short but tough climb is the spring board for final attacks and breaks. I wasn’t strong enough to stay with the front riders but found a good rhythm and reached the top only a few meters behind the last rider of the front group. Another three strong guys just behind me we started chasing down the hill, up the next, down again and I noticed that I dropped two of the guys so it was down to one guy and myself. We crossed the finish line head to head only maybe 50-100 meters behind the top finishers.

The final results are not published on the Cairns Cycling Club website, yet, but I hope they will be up within the next couple of days. I was 11th overall before the Criterium and lost two places in the crit so I went into the final stage in 13th place overall. However, I finished strong in top ten in the last road race and hope to have claimed back a place or two. I finished first women.

It was a great Tour and I’m happy with my performance. I learnt a lot and I loved catching up with so many friends. Off now to put my bike together so I will add a few more things in the next day or two.

(to Dave T. in Melbourne: Thanks for the compliments and my husband thinks so, too :-))

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16 Responses to Tour de Tablelands 2008

  1. bryan says:

    Whoa, cool! Great race. Some of those chases sound pretty intense. Well done — and a great report.

  2. Chris says:

    Great job! Finishing first girl is fantastic. Were you actually racing the guys, or just running your race at the same time?The mental part of cycling is the toughest part. Making yourself dig deep when you need to is a big part of the game.

  3. Anonymous says:

    it amazed me how positive you remained throughout the whole tour.Congrats on a great finish – 1st woman home is a great achievement … but even better to keep up with the front bunch like you did, it was awesome.You have come a long way since your first tour!Shane

  4. Whitey says:

    Awesome result! Really well done 🙂 Great report as well, certainly livened up my day from looking at numbers!

  5. Groover says:

    Bryan – it was very intense. The competition seems to be getting stronger and stronger every year.Chris – yes, I was actually racing the guys. There is no women’s grade at the Tour de Tablelands, which is a shame but I gave the guys a run for their money … 🙂 There were 39 riders in my grade and ten of them were women (including myself).Shane – thanks. It was a great weekend of racing and it was awesome to have you along! Congrats to your overall win! Very inspiring racing of yours! One day I will sit 10 seconds in front of a desperate, chasing bunch for half an hour in a crit, too. 🙂

  6. Groover says:

    Whitey – thanks. Happy procrastinating … but back to work now. See you in the morning for Nebo?

  7. Anonymous says:

    Hello Sandra and Alberto !Yours results very, very good ! I must the text translate in German but I can see , that all best racing You going !Congratulations for You and Alberto !Yours fans Rita and Jürgen from Germany

  8. Sev says:

    Woah! Congrats! Full race report Friday at the coffee shop? Looking forward to it.Sev.

  9. Great job!! Sounds like a struggle in some places, but you did an awesome job. First woman. WoooHooo. Very impressive.

  10. CyclistRick says:

    Great job! And an inspirational story of determination with good points that can be generalized by a lot of us. Thanks for the report and insight.

  11. chatterbox says:

    Great racing! It sounds like you learned a lot and enjoyed yourself. Thanks for the report.

  12. Groover says:

    Vati – der ganze Report in Deutsch folgt am Telefon wenn Ihr wieder zu Hause seid.Sev – this IS the full race report. 🙂 Friday we’ll start talking about the Sunnie Coast Tour.Lisa – yes, it was a tough weekend of racing. But it seemed with every race I got stronger and stronger.Cyclistrick – the advise to analyse the race came from Alberto. I will make this my post-race routine from now on.Chatterbox – You’re right. This was my 4th Tour de Tablelands but I’d say I never took so much away from it.

  13. David J says:

    What a ride! Sounds like an awesome trip. Keep it up.

  14. wow. great performance and congratulations in order. is that the biggy for the season (what could top that?) or do you have local/regional/ championship rr and itts coming up too?

  15. Groover says:

    David J – I had a great time and learnt a lot. Mike – It was the FIRST biggy for the season. 🙂 Next is the Metropolitan Championship and the Sunshine Coast Tour. After that there will be State Champs (not sure, yet, if I’ll enter) and Club Champs and then there is another biggy in December in Victoria (Tour of Bright). No rest for the wicked. 🙂

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