Tuesday, 28 August 2012


I thought that I would struggle to back up following Saturdays Road Race. A three-up 100km breakaway followed by an 85km handicap was surely not the return to racing my body had asked for. But being slightly off the pace meant there was no pressure to perform, and so I went into the race just wanting to get a good session out of the day, and head home to start the final block for Timor. 

As per usual, I really struggled through the first few kilometres, but before too long I was rolling through with our 17-strong bunch. We had 5 minutes to the chase, and a total of 9 minutes back to ‘block’ that consisted of my pre-race favourite, partner Jarrod Moroni, who was really enjoying himself pictured below...waving (shakes head). However when both bunches caught us just 40kms into the race, I conceded immediately that scratch wouldn’t be too far behind.

As the day was in aid of training, I continued to swap turns with the swelling bunch of nearly 50 riders in the crosswinds, and although as the day progressed so did the pain, it was made bearable knowing that Timor was looming in the near future. I fell back through the field over the climb and took my time getting to the roll-over. By now all four girls, Miranda, Flick, Kristy Glover and I were now helping with the pace-making and thoughts of todays victory became a little more realistic. Eventually the time gaps back to scratch plateaued and the wind began to gust. Within the final 10kms, when I thought my next turn would be my last, I eased to the back of the bunch for a rest only to find the bunch had dwindled to 18 and I was the sole female remaining! Flick would finish second and Miranda in third.

My excitement turned to Jarrod when I realised that this would most certainly end in a sprint, and I was confident that he would smash it, not-biased at all! We hit the final straight and I sat up to watch the finish unfold. When Jarrod kicked, he gapped the field with ease, and a quick look over his shoulder told him that he had 20metres on the bunch. Unfortunately there is such a thing as a blind spot, and a rookie mistake of ‘freewheel to the finish’ saw him pipped on the line to finish second. I was devastated for him, even hollow in the stomach, but words needn’t be said as he was hard enough on himself about losing out in that way.

But looking ahead to bigger things, and I can now say that in two weeks time I will be standing on the start line at the Tour De Timor. It has been an up and down five weeks since returning from America, but it’s obvious to me that the form is still there, all-be-it hidden behind the residue of sickness. I hope the next two weeks fly by because the preparation is starting to consume me!

Photos: Courtesy of Jo Upton Photography


The day after the Rob Vernon I thought to myself... 'Maybe my form isn't that bad after all'
The second day... 'Scrap that, the form is GOOD and I am M.O.T.I.V.A.T.E.D'
The third day god wiped that cocky smile off my face and gave me a bad bout of food poisoning that saw me drop 5kgs over a long nine days without meals. I won't describe the intricate details, but bread and icy-poles became my staple diet, and showering my daily exercise. When I got back on the bike for a 1-hour cruise with best friend Ev, I wanted to cry for my 26km/hr average on a HR of 153, but I didn't have the energy for it. I suffered through two more 1-hour rides and wondered if my life will ever be without drama...probably not...who's life is?

I had seen the start list and to be honest, I had no idea who anybody was! No disrespect intended, it's just that I haven't raced on the road scene for three years and am not one to look up results that I don't spot on Twitter or Facebook. Luckily women's racing is very to the book. E.g Bicycle Superstore and Holden Racing Team send a girl each up the road. I bridge across because I know their girls comprise the majority of the bunch and won't chase. The bunch chase me because they deem me a threat, and the same two teams then counter-attack. Pre-empting the move, I jump on for the ride. So I found myself in a 3-up break-away with the only two girls in the race I actually knew...initiator Felicity 'Flick' Wardlaw and the in-form Miranda Griffiths. Really Peta? You don't eat for nine days and then you want to do a 90km time trial?

I knew Flick would pull strong turns all day because she is a hard b***h. Miranda on the other hand was content to sit on for the first 15 minutes before contributing to the breakaway. There was hesitance in her decision even after the time gap neared the minute mark, which said maybe the teams plan had been spoilt thank's to Flick's crazy break-away scheme, or that she was holding out and not fully committing to the break. We held steady at 1 minute to the intermediate sprint at the 37k mark where I put in an effort and took the sprint jersey ahead of Flick and Miranda. I felt amazing at this point but was suspect that it wouldn't last.

The chase bunch of Stephanie Ives, Lucy Coldwell and Lisa Barry had by no means given up and I feared for their pursuit of us up the climb. As I had predicted, the first KOM is where it all un-ravelled for me. Not surprisingly, Miranda rode to line honours and I really had to max out to get over Flick for second. In quick succession I suffered over the final KOM; a 6k dirt road section that doesn't even remotely resemble MTB'ing, finishing third this time behind Miranda and Flick. After freezing to death following Flick down the final descent, I went from bad to worse. I have no doubt the girls thought I was foxing. My turns went from 50seconds to 20 and I'm not sure if I was actually pedalling for 10 of those! I missed a few turns, and as the Bicycle Superstore guys in the follow car would know, I certainly wasn't playing coy...I was spent.

With 20k to go I wasn't sure if I would finish. I turned myself inside out to stay in contact as Flick continued to attack on the run into town. Despite the gap now a substantial 5 minutes, she was pulling massive turns into the headwind, while Miranda still seemed to be holding reserves. Eventually the race became negative so I led the final 2kms at a leisurely pace, conceding to third. The girls had no problems coming around me, with Miranda taking a somewhat easy victory over Flick. After being away from the road racing scene I must say that I was somewhat impressed with the girls racing, a comment you won't often hear from me! I was exhausted, satisfied and hungry...finally!

Results: Sam Miranda Road Race
Garmin: Peta Mullens Road Race
Photos: Courtesy of Jo Upton Photogrpahy and Darren Francis Casey

Wednesday, 15 August 2012


It's been three weeks since my return from America, and not surprisingly the combination of work, training, renovations and this dreadful winter weather drove me to sickness. It took restraint to have two days off the bike here and there as the prospect of my biggest and most prestigious MTB tour for the year looms in the very near distance; the Tour de Timor. With only four weeks to find the form I lost while overseas, I can't bare the thought of another set-back. Every day is a precious training day, and I was out to make sure that the Rob Vernon Memorial ticked that box. To make the day complete I had chosen to ride out to the race for the extra kms, and when changing to the 'big dog', I realised my di2 battery was flat! My saviour for the day...Darren Casey with a spare...phew!

I had been given a more than sufficient handicap of second limit, 26 minutes. In fact in 2010 I had won off this mark, in 2011 was pushed back to third limit, and now the majority of the men I race with were in the 16-20 min bunch...thank you handicapper! Our bunch was undoubtedly favourites to win with a strong women contingent of Cait Fraser Jones, Kate Finnegan and Rachel Ward to help me pressure the men into rolling turns all day. We rode the first 30k in no hurry, climbed three-tier with numbers in mind, and then had the stronger half of the bunch put pressure on until we caught the limit markers at the 45k mark. With a bunch of 13 we were now leading the race, with the only casualty from here on to be Kate Finnegan suffering a mechanical. To win required everyone to roll through, no exceptions, and despite spending the majority of his time on the front, Peter Sens made sure of this. 

Behind us on the road the 10, 16 and 20 minutes bunches had combined and with 20k to go were 4 minutes in arrears. Jarrod drove the chase but with a large group of 25 the chase was fruitless. Time checks then became inconsistent so I reverted to the old fashioned check over the shoulder. Our bunch had eased considerably in the final 10k; perhaps some were saving themselves for the finish, or maybe the distance had begun to take its toll on their legs as it had on mine. The strongest men remained where they had been all day, on the front; namely the boys from Camperdown, Stephen Pickles and Alistair Tune, and for the purpose of training I refused to miss a turn alongside them. When we neared the 'Telephone Exchange' to turn for the final climb I knew the winner would come from our bunch. Surprisingly there were no attacks as is usually the norm, just Cait Fraser Jones driving us over the crest and a settling feeling of deja vu from two years back.

There was jostling for wheels with 1km to go and I certainly didn't fancy myself for the win so I moved up to second wheel to avoid any carnage. I would be pleased with a top 5. Warwick McGhee seemed happy to lead it out, and so began the nervous process of gear selection, reaction and timing in the final sprint to the line. I knew I had to go at the sight of a jersey, and in my apprehension I went unexpectedly early giving me a jump on the field. I can't say how long I sprinted, but it was long enough to sit back in the saddle for the final 50m slog. I wasn't convinced I had won it until the final three metres, just enough time to draw myself up high to salute, letting out an uncharacteristic scream. Did I just win the Rob Vernon again?! I was in disbelief.

I have now become the first person to win the modern day Rob Vernon Memorial twice, and still the only female in history. In addition, I am the only female to win two Victorian Road Opens. I am so chuffed! Sometimes the wins you don't expect are the most exciting ones...

Results: Rob Vernon Memorial
Garmin: Peta Mullens