Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Amy's Gran Fondo - My Report

So yesterday, I completed my first Amy's Gran Fondo. It was a long and eventful day...

I stayed with the folks in Geelong on Saturday night so the drive into Lorne on Sunday morning took just over an hour. I had to be there in time for the 7am briefing and my stress of not being able to get a car park for a mass participated event, the plan was to arrive into Lorne at 6:30am. The drive into Lorne wasn't too bad. The roadworks along the way was just a reduction in speed which added about 10min onto the total trip. I drove passed Foodworks in Lorne and saw that the carpark was completely empty and so I decided to drive closer to the Mantra to see if there are any spots left for parking and sure enough, there were plenty and only cost me $5.

I walked over to the Mantra for the briefing and that finished around 7:30am, then it was a crowded line-up for race pack pick ups before running over to the car to get all my stuff ready to meet the Bayside group at Foodworks at 8am.

The only photo I have from the event.
My last ride on a bike was on the 22nd August, a 55km spin on Beach Rd between Mordialloc and Port Melbourne. It was the day before my Sandy Point half marathon and I have been away on holidays for 2 weeks after that. I had all intentions of doing a few spin classes before Amy’s Gran Fondo but as always, I got really sick as soon as I arrived home. I had caught a (mini) flu and was in bed for 4 days straight. At the peak of my illness, my muscles hurt so much that I couldn’t roll over in bed and had to get my partner to help me out for a toilet break. I haven’t felt this sick in a while, lost 3kg over 4 days but mainly due to being dehydrated and the lack of appetite.

I wasn’t physically prepared to do this ride but I knew that I needed to just get out there. I decided against writing about it as I knew that logically that it would have been better if I gave my body more time to rest than to put myself out on the Great Ocean Road, over 120km, post holidays and being bed-ridden. I guess I was more mentally ready for this ride more than my fitness capabilities. My aim for the day was just to enjoy riding on the closed roads and to strengthen my little legs on those hill climbs.
I started my ride with one of the ladies I knew from my old tri squad. She has excelled before my eyes due to time spent on spin classes and being accountable with the wattbikes. I tried to keep up but couldn’t and I felt bad that she needed to slow down and wait for me at every slight incline or descent. I told her to go her own way before our climb up Skenes Creek and I knew that she would be hours ahead of me at the end.

Being sick meant that I was constantly blowing my nose and coughing over 4-5 days, this resulted in being dehydrated before the ride. It was forecasted to be a warm day so I decided to forgo the undershirt and just wore my knicks and jersey. No gloves, no arm warmers. I still wore my merino socks under my cycling socks as my feet have always been cold during my rides but this was too much and those wool socks were removed halfway up Skenes Creek. I did all I could to stay cool but I was parched. I had already finished half of one of my bidons before the start of the ride and I noticed that I was sipping my hydration more than usual once we got going. I had one bidon of hydration left for Skenes Creek and was rationing the entire ride up.
There was an incident half way up the Skenes Creek climb and we were asked to slow down for paramedics to attend to a cyclist. I decided soon after that I needed to remove my woolie socks and heard the chopper overhead and realised that they must have blocked off cyclist and no one had ridden passed me for about 15min or so. I checked my phone to see where abouts I was along Skenes Creek Rd so I could further ration out my hydration. I thought the aid station was at the end of the KOM climb and finished by bidon then but realised that it is another 5km away. I was a bit taken back that I am completely empty and have to get to the next aid station as soon as I could, luckily it was mostly downhill.

The first aid station was crowded and I am guessing that there would have been a bunch of cyclists who would have agreed to wait for their mates at this aid station. I wasn’t sure if the rest of the bunch were asked to turn around and ride back or wait for the chopper to leave before they could proceed. I asked around for electrolytes but was advised that it was not available and they only had water. I drank an entire bidon of water within a minute before I filled it up again along with my second bidon for the rest of my ride. The ride between the Skenes through to the Forrest Aid station was great and I gained more confidence on the descents and actually enjoyed the speed (more confidently for left turns than right). I only stopped for a banana at Forrest and topped up my water bottle so the stop was a quick one. I took out my iPod after the Forrest stop after negotiating with myself that I was only allowed to do this on the last half of the ride. I completely forgot about it after Forrest and stopped along the course to pull out the iPod and the motivation did help for the rest of the day.
When I reached the aid station at Benwerrin, there had no water left (!!!) and was advised that the water truck was at least 15min away. Luckily, there was a convenient store close by and I bought a Gatorade and emptied it into my bidon in preparation for my climb up Deans Marsh road towards the finish line.

I stopped my Garmin in the store as it kept beeping at me. Due to the exhaustion and urgency of finishing the last 10km of this day, I forgot about turning my Garmin back on and lost all my data along the Benwerrin climb, through the finished line and only noticed that my distance wasn’t increasing from 97km with only 5km left of the descent down to Lorne.
The climb up Deans Marsh (the non-Lorne side) was good. My legs cramped the entire way up but I just dealt with it for the whole way. With every pedal down, the quads cramped, luckily it wasn’t the calves. When there were false flats, I pedalled single legged and gave the free leg a bit of a shake out. My cramps during this event is most likely due to muscles being tired. When I reached the finish line, I didn’t stick around for too long, I really wanted to just get to the car so I just continued onto the descent.

I haven’t descended down to Lorne along Deans Marsh Road in over a year and luckily it was a dry day and I could get down comfortably.
When I reached my car, I couldn’t open the boot which meant that my car keys were not near the car. My heart sank when I realised that I had dropped my keys along the course and I was stuck in Lorne. I called my partner as the only solution is that he would drive all the way from Cheltenham to Lorne with the spare set so I could access the car and get home. Other solution was to sign up for roadside assistance so I could access the car but won’t be able to start it to drive back to Geelong before heading back to Mentone.

I headed to the Event Village to report my missing car keys as well as resting for about 30min before I headed back to the car to lie down on the grass for a further 30min. My mind started to recover from the exhaustive ride and that was when I decided to make use of the time I had in between by heading to a cafe and grabbing some coffee and a bite of real food. Luckily some cyclists recognised me (from wearing the Fondo kit) and they stuck around and chatted to me, kept me company and gave me a jumper to keep me warm until my partner came to drop off the spare (a 2.5 hour drive from home).
Stats from my ride: My total time over the (timed 110km) distance was 6:09.16 and I was placed 49 out of 54 for females riding the recreational category of Females 35-39. My KOM was 1:10.33 which included being slowed down by the ambulance and stopping in between to remove my socks. My total elevation etc was not accurate as my Garmin was paused.  
I was pretty dehydrated and didn’t visit the bathroom until 11:30pm that day when I finally reached home. Legs were throbbing from the ride and had difficulty sleeping.

I enjoyed the ride and looking forward to doing this event again next year. I will aim to finish under 5 hours - I have to work hard to improve by more than an hour but this is do-able considering that I was sick prior to the event and I took my time throughout the course. 25% of the people within my recreational category rode under 5 hours. The age group category is different and they raced the event, something I am not interested in especially seeing so many crashes along the way. I will be more prepared for the ride and will carry electrolyte powder or tablets. Nutrition was on point, mixing my personal homemade solution along with store-bought gels. I will change my strategy to consume every 30min instead of 45min due to the increase of intensity and distance. I am happy that this event hasn’t put me off my bike. My Garmin 910xt finally died and won’t be able to use it again after I uploaded my data as the power button finally caved. No to worry, I am getting my Garmin 520 to be used for my cycling training from now on.
Photos from the Amy's Gran Fondo will be uploaded by the photography company next week. I know I got a few photos as a few media motorbikes stopped specifically for me as I was wearing the Fondo kit and I was out on my own the last half of the Skenes Creek climb. I will see how I look before I purchase them and share them on this site.

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