Author Archives: Helen

Menzies to Kalgoolie Handicap – 132km June 4th – 6th overall (first woman)

Menzies to Kalgoolie Handicap – 132km June 4th – 6th overall (first woman)

Conditions: 25°C Strong tail winds (doesn’t happen often)

Bob and I headed out of Kalgoorlie towards Menzies.  I was a little bruised from my fall and wanted to have a good warmup.  Bob let me out with 30km to go so I could spin the legs over.  So many riders on their way to the race, thought I had ridden all the way from Kalgoorlie! (I wish).

I was graded into C grade, which started 55min behind E grade and 25min behind D grade.  There were 50 riders in my grade.  B grade started 8 mins behind us and A grade another 6min behind them.

Our grade settled into a steady pace with everyone pulling turns.  There were several weaker riders in the bunch, which kept slowing the pace but I didn’t want to attack too early.  With a strong tailwind our speed hovered around 50km/hr, slowing to 40km/hr over the hills.  They weren’t really hills but gentle rises in the terrain.  My major mistake was not getting out of the seat enough because when I decided to attack at about the 90km mark, I stood up and my hamstrings (right up near the insertion with my gluteals) screamed with pain.  They felt unbelievably tight and I sat down wondering whether I had actually strained them.  I hadn’t experienced such a sharp pain before.  With more experience I would have realized that I had only stiffened up and needed to get out of the seat more, but I thought I had strained them, and tried not to get out of the seat, thus worsening the problem.

Slowly the time gap to D grade was being reduced and with only 5km to go we caught them.  Now the attacks were going one after another, and I managed to stay in the top 20.  The final corner only 200m from the finish, was a dangerous off camber right hand turn with a medium strip to dodge.  I came around the corner in 10th wheel and managed to finish 6th overall, but was first woman to finish giving me a handy $500 prize.

National Road Race Championships – 20th August 2000 – 7th

National Road Race Championships – 20th August 2000 – 7th

Woke up and did a warm up on the rollers for half an hour at 7am.  My heartrate lifted quite well, however I hadn’t slept well and felt tired and groggy.  I had a good breakfast, 3 weetbix and 2 pieces of toast as well as a banana about half an hour before the start.  My stomach was churning all morning, I felt really nervous.  The course was at Glenrowan and was a 28km loop that we did 4 times.  It had quite a tough climb of 3km which tested the legs.  In lap 1 I positioned well and didn’t do any work.  The bunch split over the climb but regrouped by the corner following the descent.  Towards the end of the lap, Fjelda Lee attacked and Jessica Amy, Jaci Lo and I crossed to her.  No-one else followed.  We started working well together and increased our lead to 1min30sec.   Jaci waited on the climb for Fjelda and I, while Jessica dropped off.

By the end of lap 2, a chasing bunch of 5 had caught us and we headed into lap 3 as a group of 8.  Kathy attacked up the climb and we stayed together for the first attack but she attacked again and the bunch splintered.  Five made it over with Kathy, whilst I was 40m back with Jennifer Manefeld and Fjelda Lee.  We chased hard but couldn’t get back on.  Fjelda dropped out and Jennifer and I worked together but knew we couldn’t catch the bunch.  Kathy attacked the bunch at the start of the last lap and went on to win comfortably on her own.  I beat Jennifer to finish 7th.  I was happy with this result after only 8 months of racing, given many of the other girls were not in their first season.

Metropolitan Championships – July 2000 – 2nd

Metropolitan Championships – July 2000 – 2nd

I didn’t feel too great today.  I am sore down my lower left side of my spine from a slightly strained muscle.  The winds were strong and it was only 13C.  The first 3km were easy and then Kathy attacked.  I went with her.  We worked well, however Sue McCarthy bridged across to us so we sat up.  Kathy attacked again and Katrina Purcell and I went with her.  Kathy attacked a third time and dropped us.  I was on my own but eventually Louisa Hamilton-White bridged across to me.  I attacked her once and then decided to ride with her.  I was too tired to ride the rest of the way on my own.  I beat her in a sprint finish for 2nd.  Kathy beat me by over 7min!  I was happy with my result, given I felt so ordinary.

Victorian Individual Time Trial Championships – 22nd July 2000 – 1st

Victorian Individual Time Trial Championships – 22nd July 2000 – 1st

I did a good pyramid heartrate warm up where I elevated the heartrate by 10 beats every 5mins.  I did this in the S/C/R to keep the cadence high.  I was last to start in the time trial and with 4 girls scratching I had a 4min gap to my start which meant I had no-one in sight to chase.  I used the Rolf wheels and rode in the B/C/R except for one steep hill.  I won by 37sec.

Victorian Road Race Championships – 23rd July 2000 – 2nd

Victorian Road Race Championships – 23rd July 2000 – 2nd

I did a 10km warm up on the rollers at 8am followed by a second warmup of 25km before the race started.  There were only 16 girls in the race.  After 500m Kathy attacked.  I went with her as did Emma.  We sat up and cruised around the first lap.  Kathy and I attacked on the 2nd lap and no-one came with us.  We gradually lengthened our lead to 55sec but never more.  Each time we rode the headwind section, the bunch gained time on us.  I was doing more work than Kathy.  I cornered better than she did and had to sit up and wait for her on the corners.  Her breathing was really heavy so maybe she wasn’t feeling great.  However, I was feeling great but didn’t attack.  On lap 4, she started to attack me.  I matched every attack but had to dig deep.  On the last lap up the 2km climb she actually started to lag.  I actually called out encouragement to her and she attacked me and dropped me.  I just didn’t have the legs left.  I chased her but she was out of sight.  I sat up and waited for Kim Howard to join me.  I worked with her to the finish and beat her in a sprint to take 2nd.

Hazelwood Power Tour – June 2000 – 1st

Hazelwood Power Tour – June 2000 – 1st

Stage 1 Saturday 17th –13km I/T/T – 1st

One anti-clockwise loop.  Amazingly, about 5 girls missed the turnoff and ended up miles away!  There was one really steep hill which required the S/C/R.  There was also a strong headwind towards the end.  I won in 19min40sec, 7 sec ahead of Jessica Amy.

Stage 2 Saturday 17th – 50km road stage – 1st

This stage had sprints and KOM’s in it.  I won both KOM’s and all the sprints except one.  A broke away after the first KOM, with Rachel.  We worked well to keep the bunch away.  I beat her in a sprint finish.

Stage 3 Saturday 17th – 39km road stage – 1st

This stage consisted of 3 laps of the small time trial circuit we’d done this morning.  I broke away with Jessica and Rachel.  I won all 3 sprints and both KOM’s again.  The two of them tried to work me over but it didn’t work.  I won the sprint finish again.  I was very pleased with the days racing.

Stage 4 Sunday 18th – 45km road stage – 2nd

Todays stage consisted of 2 laps of a circuit followed by a 7km climb to the finish.  There were 3 or 4 attacks during the 2 laps however nothing developed out of them.  I climbed steadily and then with 4km to go I attacked in the B/C/R.  Jessica Amy followed me and caught me.  We stayed together until the finish.  As we approached the finish I saw one car about 60m in front of us, followed by 4 or 5 cars on another 30m beyond the first car.  I couldn’t see a flag and thought the group of cars was the finish line.  Unfortunately, the finish line was the first car.  I was still winding it up when Jessica took the win.

Stage 5 Sunday 18th – 25min criterium – 1st

I felt so tired.  I had a lead of 5min so I knew I had the tour won.  However, I warmed up well and decided to attack from the line.  I developed a 10 sec lead which gradually stretched out to 52sec.  I won all 4 sprints and won the overall tour.  This was my first tour win!

Tour of Bright – May 2000 – 4th

Tour of Bright – May 2000 – 4th

Stage 1 Saturday 13th – 14km I/T/T – 5th

It rained steadily all morning.  I warmed up on the rollers inside then headed to the airfield.  It rained steadily throughout the timetrial which was an out and back course.  I was reasonably happy with my time, 22min41sec.  Karren Barrow won in 21min09sec.

Stage 2 Saturday 13th 82km road stage

The weather cleared up so I decided not to race in leggings and booties.  I heard the VIS were going to make a break early so I spent the first 20km sitting on Katie’s wheel watching Karen, Sophie and Geraldine, wondering who was going to attack.  The bunch split on the first KOM.  I was 5th over the top, passed Geraldine and jumped onto Fjelda’s wheel and starting chasing the bunch.  A group of 8 of us were clear of the main bunch as we headed towards Tawonga store.  I started the sprint too late – I was waiting for everyone else to start sprinting.  I came 4th.  Karen dropped off from the bunch due to an injury.  Katie attacked before the Tawonga Gap climb.  I tried to go with her but she kept climbing at tempo.  The 12km climb really hurt.  I slipped back to 7th on the climb.  Sophie F. passed me near the top and finished 4th.  I worked with Rachel Rademaker to the finish.  She got me in a sprint finish.  I was now 5th on GC.

Stage 3 Sunday 14th 35km Mt Buffalo climb

The drizzling rain greeted us again.  I decided against wearing leggings as I knew I would get hot up the ascent.  I still wore a singlet under my jersey and decided to keep arm warmers on.  I only had about 10min to warm up and just rode up and down the main street of Bright.  I came 4th in the sprint at the Golf course, and 3rd in the KOM.  I broke away with Katie and Fjelda over the KOM but didn’t work a turn and soon the bunch had caught us.  I didn’t want the legs to blow up when I had a 25km climb to go.  My heartrate was 170-180 BPM during the climb.  Our lead bunch gradually dwindled down to 5 of us.  Katie attacked on a hairpin corner with about 5km to go, and no-one went with her.  Thinking about it now, I should have attempted to go with her but we all just watched her ride away.  On the last KOM, I tried desperately to sprint but had nothing in the legs.  Geraldine and I battled it out to the finish and I beat her by a few seconds finishing 4th.  I was shivering with cold as the temperature had dropped right down to nearly zero.  We drove down the mountain as soon as we could to get ready for the next stage.

Stage 4 Sunday 14th 20min criterium

Our bunch had dwindled down to 16 starters.  I came 2nd and 3rd in the sprints and finished 4th overall in the criterium.  I made a mistake of not driving off the front, after the sprint laps, as this would have been a good time to attack.  Overall for the tour, I finished 4th.  Katie Mactier 1st, Fjelda Lee 2nd, Geraldine Denham 3rd.

Canberra Tour – April 2000 – B Grade

Canberra Tour – April 2000 – B Grade

Stage 1 Saturday – 38km – 13th

I felt so nervous. This was my first tour. There were 38 girls all eyeing each other and wondering who was who. The new CAAD4 Cannondale feels fantastic – so light and responsive. Feels awesome to climb with – so light. There was a planked bridge (with gaps) to cross at the 10km mark.  Fortunately I picked a plank without ruts and rot and kept nice and steady and made it across without a wheel falling down a gap. Last year there were some huge crashes on this bridge. My heart pounded as I crossed it. Then we had a 3km steep climb. My bike felt so great that I worked my way to the front and started working really hard – way too hard! My heartrate monitor showed 195 beats per minute. My maximum is 200 so I was almost riding at 100%. I went so hard that my legs filled with lactic acid and then ‘blew up’.

(They have a King of the Mountain (KOM) series within the bike race where they conduct two KOM sprints where the first 3 across a certain marker get points). All the girls started sprinting for the KOM finish line and I didn’t have anything left in the legs as I’d gone hard too early – inexperience showing through. A group of 12 girls crossed the mountain top with about 40 metres on me, with me in hot pursuit. They were all rotating 10 second turns off the front of the pack and this makes a pack go a lot faster than a single rider. I put my head down and chased. It took me 5km to catch them. I tucked into the back of the pack and got sucked along by the draft and recovered from my sprint. I was delighted to get back onto the lead pack. We had already dropped 20 girls from the first KOM.

Then I started working my turns out the front with the others. Then along came the next KOM sprint – up a really steep 2km climb. I was about 10 metres off them cresting the hill and tried desperately to tuck back on. No use – my legs were hammered. I looked around and saw 4 girls about 500 metres back. I waited for them and then worked with them until the end of the race, beating them in a bunch sprint to the line. I came 13th. I was happy with this but realised that inexperience had cost me 3 minutes on the leader. I need to conserve my energy for the right moment.

Stage 2 Saturday – 38km – 10th

After a 2 hour break (and lunch) it was back to it again. My legs felt heavy and tired. I headed out for a 30km warmup which helped them loosen up. My plan of attack – not go out too hard. Sit in within the pack and stay with the lead bunch for the entire race. Try and improve my overall position (General Classification “GC”). I found Jessica Amy and sat on her wheel for the whole race. I came 8th in both KOM sprints and most importantly stayed with them over the crest of each mountain when the legs are dead and they always put in a sprint to try and drop the weaker ones.

I was in the lead bunch (10 of us). We only had 6km to go and a girl attacked up a hill and I couldn’t stay with them. I tried desperately but there was nothing in the legs. Then I watched as the bunch of 9 in front broke up into a group of 4 and 5. I kept chasing and caught the bunch of 5. I stayed with them until 2km to go and my legs were screaming with pain. They surged on me and I couldn’t hang on. I finished 10th but much happier with my performance. My overall position had improved from 13th to 11th.

Stage 3 – Sunday – 54km 8th

The last stage – I desperately wanted to finish with the lead bunch. My legs felt okay, given I had raced twice the day before and had ridden 140km. I still needed my 30km to warm up properly. The legs just don’t respond until I have warmed up for at least an hour. Luckily I have realised this during training as I have noticed I feel great after 30km but before hand I cannot sprint or climb well.

The race started at a steady pace and then we all tucked down for a long 5km downhill doing in excess of 60km per hour. The corners were steep and the road was bumpy and this required enormous concentration. Then over a “pick a plank” bridge – again I managed to get across without losing a tyre down a gap in the planks. I cannot believe they make us cross such a dangerous bridge. A sprint developed and I tucked in about 10th wheel and hung on.  About 2km further on and over another planked bridge.and then up for 2km for the final KOM sprint of the series. I moved up and came 5th. Over the crest 3 Canberra cycles girls took off. Another Canberra girl who was in 4th position sat up, took a drink and blocked us from moving up. This was the tactics to let her team mates develop a lead.  Jessica pushed around her and I followed. We started working 10 second turns to bridge the gap. It took us 8km to catch them. In total there was 7 of us in this front bunch. A car with spare wheels wizzed by the other way and I heard Greg yell out to me to stay with them. However, we were tackling a long series of hills and I was tiring. I tried to hang on but I ended up about 30 metres down. A convoy car behind me pulled up beside me and encouraged me to get back onto the bunch. I put my head down and started chasing. I chased and chased and couldn’t bridge the gap. It was incredibly frustrating as it is so much harder working behind on your own with no-one to draft off. The 30 metre gap slowly lengthened as we did a U turn and headed back into a buffetting headwind.

The group of 7 in front were working hard and I was forced to chase but watch the convoy car slowly disappear in front of me. I had 32km to do on my own and saddly I had to work harder than the bunch of 7 in front of me as they could work their turn and then rest. I was to have no rest. I saw two girls about 1km behind me and was determined to beat them home to try and make it in the top 10 in the general classification. I put my head down and away I went. I was riding into a headwind and had to go over all 32km of hills. It was hard work. I was gradually putting distance into the 2 behind me and tried to get over the hill and be out of sight before they commenced the hill. This way I knew they wouldn’t chase as hard if they couldn’t see me. I crossed the two bridges again and had the long 6km climb to the finish. I finished 2 minutes ahead of the two girls behind me. This gave me an 8th finish in the race and moved my general classification to 9th position overall. Great – I had made it into the top 10 in my first tour!!!! I have learned a lot about racing in only one tour and look forward to the Tour of Bright where I can apply my wisdom, apply my energy at the right moments and see what happens

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