The 2015 Road cycling world champs have been undoubtedly the best cycling experience I have ever had.
After flying into Chiacago and staying for two nights to watch Lizzie race in the Triathlon World Champs, Dad and I drove through the night down to Richmond Virginia where I met up with the Cycling NZ team. We were staying about 5 miles out from the course, so it was a brief ride in every day for riding and a short drive for racing. The NZ team was stacked; we had Greg Henderson, Jesse Sergent, Sam Bewley, Linda Villumsen, Jo Keisanowski, Rushlee Beucannan, James Oram, Dion Smith, Hayden Mcormick, Sam Dobbs, James Fouche, Georgia Catterick, Hannah Gumbley, Mikayla Harvey, and me. We were also lucky to have the help of the USA-based UHC pro racing team mechanics and soigneuers; it felt as though we were true professionals. The German team was also staying at the same place, and that was a highlight on its own, with the likes of Tony Martin, Tom Domoulin, and Andre Gripel.
My first race was the individual time trial, on the 22nd. The 30 km course in Richmond was amazing, incredibly quick, technical and through the inner city streets, the atmosphere bolstered by the massive crowds lining the barriers (even on practice days). The course was two laps of a 15km circuit, heading down the historic Monument Ave, out and back on the paved surface, before a long straight stretch across the river – really quick on the way out and a grind back. The lap was topped off with a quick descent and a short steep climb to the finish. I had 4 days in Richmond before my TT, so plenty of time to adjust to the 30 degree temperature and practice the course.
The day dawned cloudy, clear and cold with no immediate sign of rain and many people suddenly deciding that it was time to ride the festival. People started arriving at the football clubrooms at 7:15 and it was all on with approximately 80 late entries rolling up on the day. A very busy time for the ladies at the registration desks, and timing people assigning chips and numbers.
With 20 odd registered for the Sprockets NZ Jo Allen Memorial classic race the handicappers job was not too bad. The first two riders were away at 8.30 and with only two riders they had nowhere to hide from the weather conditions. The A grade riders group were last away at 8:58, they must have been feeling comfortable, because as they left as they were all chatting to each other. The eventual winner had a good lead coming down from Kimbolton but the chasing group made some inroads across the flats to be only a few hundred metres behind at the line. Josh Page was not only the first across the line but also had the fastest time of 2:07:23, congratulations.
Spring has sprung! With daylight hours quickly increasing now and the ‘fun ride’ season coming up, it’s time to oil your chain and get some more miles in to improve your fitness. It might not be time though, to ditch the arm and leg warmers, nor the raincoat, as we can expect the nasty weather to drag on a bit longer that we’d like.
Many of our younger members are already fighting fit though, and are busily preparing for the NZ Secondary Schools Championships which are run on an annual basis in the Horowhenua and Manawatu. Held at the end of Sept (in the first weekend of the School holidays), this is one of the biggest annual events in the local sporting calendar, and indeed the biggest annual cycling event in NZ. There are also plenty of parents and older riders who will be involved in the organisation of the event; volunteers who without we would not be able to provide top notch home ground competition for our children.
The success of our young cyclists over the last few years is testament to the work that the parents and volunteers put into the sport, particularly those involved in Manawatu Schools Cycling. We have regional, national, oceania, and world champions to show as a result! One area in which local cycling does not do so well however, is in retaining these youngsters as they transition from school to work or tertiary education. Indeed, Bike Manawatu has very very few senior/open riders, male or female and this is an issue we need to address if we are to be a strong cycling club. One way to address this is to ensure that we have enough racing opportunities for Senior riders. This means that we need to persist with organising club road racing events on a weekly basis for local riders, and provide other opportunities for the non-locals to visit and race.
In this context, I am to announce that Bike Manawatu is organising a new event on January the 17th which will attract elite riders from all over NZ and the oceania region. Called the ‘Gravel and Tar Classic’ it will have a prize pool of at least $15K, around half of which will be awarded to team-based results. The latter is to encourage the professional, semi-professional, and amateur teams which will be competing in the NZ Cycle Classic (now based in Masterton) to come to Palmerston North just prior. If you want to compete in this, you don’t have to be part of a team, but you can’t be involved in the team-based prizes if you’re not. You’ll need to be an U19, Open, or Masters rider to compete, and you’ll need a racing licence. We are toying with the idea of a cash prize or trophy for the fastest local rider and/or team. Stay tuned for more info.
At the same time, we don’t want to forget that the vast majority of BM riders are not racers, so we are also organising the ‘Gravel and Tar Gran Fondo’ at the same time. The course will involve riding on some gravel roads, but well within the capability of a normal road bike (and its rider), albeit with some good 25-28 mm tyres. We aim to have some very very good spot prizes (and more) for this fun event, so put the date in your diary and start practicing on a bit of gravel!
Lastly, it was saddening to hear of the recent passing of Averil Sheehan. Averil was a very friendly and active BM member who was always looking for another cycling challenge. She will be sorely missed in the Manawatu peloton.
Yours in cycling,
This week has been very sad for all of our cycling community, we have lost our friend and companion, Averil Sheehan. She has amazed us with her endless list of achievements done with such determination and ability! She was a caring, kind person who has won the total admiration and respect of her Velogirl and Bike Manawatu family.
It is with disbelief and sadness that we say farewell instead of 'have a safe ride' or 'good luck for your next marathon'
"Rest in peace Dear Averil"
We extend all our love and deepest sympathy to her family at this time and wish to offer any help and support if needed.