Yesterday, 20th September, I participated in the #dirtygranfondo event at Gembrook. I did a similar event earlier this year at Wondong organised by the Bill Hill Events.
This year, I invited my friend Dale to do this event with me as we are both training for 3 Peaks and have lined up a few training sessions and events leading up to the event in March. I did Amy’s Gran Fondo last weekend and thought that this one would compliment my hill climbing training as well as mixing things up a tad.
Post AGF, I did CF Altitude class at Melbourne Altitude Training for the first time on Tuesday 15th. I am still getting use to the Wattbikes and probably won’t understand the whole peak angle thing for now...strength work on Wednesday and a standard spin class at GESAC on Thursday morning (done with heavy legs).
I had a sneak peak at my new bike (my Liv Avail Advanced SL 0) on Friday night and have named it Valerie. The seat post needs to be cut and the bits and pieces of the bike needs to be put together. I was going to ride it on Saturday but the bike is not yet ready so I ended up just riding the Wilier. On Saturday, I wanted to spin my legs out rather than not doing anything the day before the Dirty Gran Fondo. Even when I am only riding 50km on Sunday, I needed to also do something on the Saturday. Instead of riding in a bunch and getting caught up in the speed and intensity, I had a small sleep in and did a 55km ride sans arm warmers, vest etc and savoured the sunshine. After the ride, I had a small nap, cleaned my TT to sell and prepared material for cycling caps.
For Sunday, I had planned on leaving the house at 8am to arrive in Gembrook by 9am (about an hour’s drive from our house). We ended up leaving at 8:30 and arrived by 9:30am. It was a rush to registration to collect our number plates, toilet stop and prepared ourselves for the ride. I spotted Dale and we chatted before the event started.
My aim for the day was to ride up as much of the climbs as I could (avoid walking the bike which was what I did quite a bit for at Wondong) and to gain confidence at the descents. Originally, I was going to ride the CX bike but opted out and rode the MTB instead as Dale was riding hers and more so I don’t think my bike skills are good enough to get through the event.
I felt comfortable the entire way through the course. I actually enjoyed the climbs and happy to report that I did not walk my bike once! I didn’t even get on the granny gears whilst climbing apart from one or two sharp pinches. I got stung by a bee at about 40km mark on my shoulders. I reacted with a high pitch yelp but didn’t fall off the bike. Currently, I have localised swelling on my shoulders but nothing too drastic.
I didn’t do as well as I had hoped descents. I am too busy trying to look out in front of me, recognising the terrains, watching for bumps and snakes to comfortably ride at high speeds. Dale on the other hand, flew down the hills with a huge smile on her face! Dale and I have different set of skills and levels of comfort on the bike. I waited for her on top of climbs and she waited for me at the bottom of descents.
We both finished the ride around 3:47. We didn’t want to race the event and was pretty happy at the end to have finished. We both had a great day.
My nutrition was on point. I had my first gel at 1 hour and the rest was every 45min. I didn’t feel tired or drained the entire route. Not sure how I would be feeling if I did the 75km. The feed zone (50km only had 1) had oreos, oranges and water provided. I had about 2 oreo biscuits and filled up my camelbak. I wiped my face with the paper towels they provided as the sweat was stinging my eyes along the climb towards the feedzone.
Overall, I had a great day. The weather was perfect, not too hot and not too cold. I did sweat buckets but I wasn't dehydrated.
The next Dirty Gran Fondo is on the 15th May 2016. I am going to wait until next year to sign up as I will have a better idea of which event to enter - 65km or 90km? CX or MTB....