Every Christmas holidays we have the Great Debate: A holiday by the sea or a cycle racing ‘holiday’? Attempting to satisfy both requirements, we booked an apartment at Brighton-Le-Sands, 100 meters from the beach, just south of Sydney, and within easy driving distance of four different velodromes.
In NSW, at the Christmas Carnivals, the Junior 17 riders race against the seniors. This was a definite incentive for Sarah to attend. Being placed in Women’s A was the cream on the cake!
And so our Christmas Carnival week began. A leisurely wake up, time at the beach, early dinner and then on to race and race and race!
With five carnivals and six races at each one, Sarah had an absolute ball! (In theory there were five events, the last being a choice between a super Italian pursuit, or similar endurance race, and the nightly Madison..but Sarah always lined up and selected both events!)
Every rider has a favorite event; Sarah likes any event that is long or hard, (or preferably long and hard). One such race was the ‘Miss and Out’. The women were divided into three groups. The front markers (a group of seven) lined up a lap ahead of the back markers (a group of six) with Sarah in a group of four middle markers, 170 meters in front of the back markers and 170m behind the front markers. Each group began as a team pursuit, with two free laps and then the last rider of the race eliminated each lap. So, if your group did not catch the group in front, all of your group would be eliminated, one at a time. Sarah’s group fell apart from the start, but Sarah and one other brave soul worked hard to try and catch the front markers, while staying away from the faster back markers who were being eliminated behind them, one lap at a time. Eventually these two made it across to the first group and had one easy lap before the relatively fresh front marker eliminations began. The nine women became two; Sarah and Emily Watts, an endurance rider who had began in the front group. Sarah sat on Emily’s wheel and, with 100 meters to go, found some extra juice in the tank to take Emily at the line! What a race!
The last race of each night was a 10km Madison. Sarah teamed up with her Sydney friend, Ashlee Jones, to form team Brunswick. Sarah and Ashlee were both the youngest team and one of two women’s teams, competing against a fast men’s field. If they were lapped they were eliminated from the race and stripped of handicap points. Each night these two girls kept improving their Madison turns, and each night they were eliminated at a later stage of the race (excepting night four where they finished with the bunch..but that’s another story!) It was great to watch!
Finally, thirty races later, it was off to the surf and a day off the bike. 🙂 Then it was on the road to Echuca, to contest the Victorian Points Race Title. I guess it was not the greatest preparation for a State Race…we drove from 7am to 4pm! Sarah packed in another eight races over two days, and picked up the Vic Points Race Championship as well!
Finally we were home. But done with racing? Oh, no! It was the Mitchelton Bay Cycling Classic. So, off to Williamstown we went.Sarah raced with the boys and stayed in the bunch for the whole of the criterium. After the race, when asked by the commentator if she was going to attack the boys at the race end, she told the crowd, “I had nothing left in the tank!” Ah ha, finally Sarah, you are done!
Happy New Year everyone, and, if you are still reading this far on, thanks!