It took me a solid week to recover from University Games, proof that my introduction back into racing had hurt more than anticipated. I spent my recovery week wisely, working with Vic Roads on their helmet safety initiative program for October bike safety month. I visited 10 local schools and spoke to over 2000 kids, convincing them on the importance of wearing a helmet. If gory videos didn't get through to them, my spiel on Amy Gillett and her 5 injured team-mates surely did. You only need to save one child's life to make it worthwhile =) Coincidentally, the Amy Gillett Cup was to be run the following week. Comprised of three races and held in conjunction with the Jayco Herald Sun Tour, it commemorates the death of Amy Gillett who passed in 2005 in a serious road accident. I recently participated in the TWC Calendar, who's profits will go toward the Amy Gillett Foundation.
Sunday presented 20 female starters with a challenging 2.1km circuit around Traralgon which included the dreaded Kay Street climb. As if 20 hill repeats wasn't enough, strong winds and temperatures in the 30's certainly were, making the conditions well suited to early pace setter Sarah Kent (Team Plan B). Four laps in however, it was Chloe McConville (CCCC Elite) who took the reins after a series of attacks and split the field. A break of four comprising Kendelle Hodges (UNO), Sinead Noonan (SASI), McConville and I resulted, but it took the likes of youngster Jess Griffiths (NSWIS) to bridge across for our 10 second gap to push out past the minute barrier. After Noonan lost contact we suffered as a team to stay away, until given the 2 to go when I chose to tackle the race solo. No reaction from the chasers saw me ride to victory in front of a home town crowd! (Pictured above and below with my Mum). Griffiths claimed a strong second with McConville third.
From here I found myself on tour with the Jayco Herald Sun crew as a marshal, aka a 'muppet'. Initially, standing on a corner in a fluro vest, wearing orange arm warmers all day and having to skip lunch didn't appeal to me, but I grew to love the muppets (pictured below atop Mount Buller) and reminded myself that my volunteer work accounted for outcomes in my fitness course at Swinburne =) I roomed with the only other female marshal Sam Jelbart (pictured bottom on tour), who kept my head screwed on for me when I headed into race 2 of the Amy Gillett Cup well underdone. Aside from a bout of football and cricket, while staying at a Christian camp with the muppets, I had done very little to prepare for the 16km ascent up Mount Buller on the Thursday. So to say I was nervous is an understatement.
The race from Mansfield to Buller, at a distance of 47kms, was tackled by 25 women. It was a unanimous decision for the pace to be sedated until we hit the base of the climb where I represented in a break of 7. While Katherine Riddoch (Albury/Wodonga) rode the front, Lisa Jacobs (CCCC) waited for an opportunity to attack. After 12kms of climbing she finally did just that, with only Sarah Kent (Team Plan B), Rebecca Locke (Coburg CC) and Myfanny Galloway (Canberra CC) able to follow. As the gradient stepped up in the final 2kms, Locke and Galloway were fighting out what looked like a tight battle until Galloway cruised to victory in the final 500mtrs. Less than a minute separated the top 5 with Kent holding on for third, Jacobs fourth and myself fifth. As members of the initial break, Tory Thomas (VIS) and Kath O'Shea (MTBA) finished 6th and 7th respectively.
I was leading the Amy Gillett Cup going into the final day of racing at Lygon Street, sceptical about retaining it against an impressive field of 35, in front of hundreds of spectators lining the 2km circuit for what would be the finale to the Jayco Herald Sun Tour. I was looking for a breakaway to succeed, and after relentless attacks into a strong headwind and again down a technical back straight, the elastic band finally snapped. Chloe McConville (CCCC Elite) was responsible for the initiation, with Lisa Jacobs (CCCC) Kath O'Shea (MTBA), race favourite Belinda Goss (TIS) and I jumping on board. A break of five was driven by the work of three, as Jacobs and O'Shea chose to sit in for the win. As karma has it, Goss easily claimed the sprint victory with Chloe second and myself third. I worked hard, felt strong, and am pleased with my current form. I return to Traralgon as home town hero and Amy Gillett Cup winner =) Watch home video footage here!
Results: Amy Gillett Cup Race 1, Traralgon Criterium, 30min +3laps
Results: Amy Gillett Cup Race 2, Mansfield - Mt Buller, 47kms
Results: Amy Gillett Cup Race 3, Lygon Street Criterium, 40min + 3laps
Photo 1 courtesy of PixWeb Cycling