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Cadel’s Great Ocean Road Race: a spectacular coastal course featuring rolling terrain, brutal sidewinds, and some serious soul-searching included, free of charge. Just like how building IKEA furniture as a couple can be a test of your relationship, racing a world-class peloton can be a test of your relationship with your bike … and of your ability to think reasonably. You know, thoughts like “I’m getting guttered in this crosswind and should really eat something, or instead I can just remain motionless and stare at the line between the pavement and the dirt and try not get dropped!”
Here is my description of the race in three of my new favorite Australian terms:
‘Sticky Beak’ (someone who is incorrigibly nosy) as in, sticky beaks succeed in this race by being able to nose their way into the echelon during those brutal sidewind areas and conserve as much as possible. My teammate Beth Ann had an incredible ‘sticky beak’ moment during the race when panicked riders were trying to verbally coerce their way into the echelon in a desperate act of self-preservation. Ruthless Beth Ann had to put away her caretaker hat and gutter more than a few competitors. A savage display and a proud moment of professionalism despite your giving nature. This is how criminals start I imagine …
‘Dodgy’ (meaning rudimentary or unstable). My navigation of the echelon was definitely ‘dodgy.’ This turned out pretty poorly for me a couple times while trying to follow the wheel in those sidewinds. Are you getting the sidewind theme here? Not just a crucial section or two with a sidewind, I’m talking the kind of wind that is unrelenting and reaches every part of the course and breaks your spirit. Riding in the dirt to conserve anything I had left was more than ‘dodgy,’ but good to experience a course like this at some point in your career. Ya know, for person growth? Or to kick-start a drinking habit post race? Who can say. Here is what I looked like trying to ride that last inch of pavement to get a draft in the sidewind:
Toppy (to be the tops, very best, exceptional). This race was definitely a toppy, but in so many more ways than just in terms of the course and the world-class field, but in feeling like the women’s event was a headliner, not an afterthought of the men’s race. Cadel himself and all the promoters and volunteers involved with the event made me feel more valued as an athlete than I ever have before. It was pretty great to learn that many spectators made the trip to Geelong for the finish of the women’s race, but not the men’s! Everything from accommodations to the team presentation was truly world class.
Next stop: back to the U.S., a.k.a. hibernation in Antarctica! No that’s not true, I’ll find some sun and line up with the Hagens Berman – Supermint gals in a matter of weeks. Cheers to total immersion into the hardest racing of my life — in January, mate!