TKM RR CHAMPS 2014
written by Teh Brix
TKMRR2014 was set to be an absolute cracker and (well, from my point of view) it did not disappoint. The Eagle had dutifully undertaken several reconnaissance missions of the hinterlands behind Inverloch and designed a 3 stage course that had a bit of everything in it. The master stroke in the handicapping by the King meant the rider who crossed the line first after stage 3 was going to be crowned the 2014 champ....setting the stage for a dramatic finish.
My main concern coming into the race was my lack of training. 8 weeks earlier I was on the surgeons table having my clavicle hook plate removed, and, under doctors orders did not ride on the road for 6 weeks after the surgery, leaving me effectively 2 weeks of real training. My first ride back was the autumn season opening crit, where due to my lack of fitness I was dropped by every single rider! Would not have been able to tear the skin off a latte. Anyhoo, I digress....
Stage 1 was an undulating ITT with coastal views and enough lumpy bits to get the heart, lungs and legs screaming. My tactic in stage 1 was to ride solidly to establish some time into those starting off a similar handicap in stage 2, but not hard enough to feel the effects later in the day. I rode the 24.4km solidly in low 39mins, and averaged a respectable 277w according to the power meter. This put me a couple of minutes ahead of each of my group for stage 2, and meant that in order to begin the final stage high in the order, I had to simply finish with the front bunch on stage 2.
Stage 2 - inverloch to loch was my favorite stage of the day...with long flat straights, some longer climbs to test the climbing fitness, narrow roads through small towns, single lane bridge crossings, forest and an uphill sprint finish. I began this stage with the limit group, and again metered my effort so that when the chasing groups made the catch I was able to make the jump. For the first 10km Postie, goose, big dog, random Chris, baker and I rolled turns at tempo. Hill 1 approached (2.5km, 5%) and I began climbing with trepidation.... Would I be spat or able to hold my own.? Being a numbers man I again looked to my power output and tapped away at ~350w for the first ascent, and found that to be more than enough to hold my own. After hill 1 there were some casualties but had taken goose and Postie with me so onward we pushed rolling turns to the next climb. Climb 2 approached and Paddy from the support vehicle announced group 4 were close,so I kept a lid on the effort and waited for the catch, so I had enough matches to burn if a big effort was required. The Hick and Ghostie came storming up behind me dragging their group, and as they passed I was able to maintain contact. From there it was a case of conserving energy ( well sort of) and keeping other contenders for the race in check. Soon after group 4 made the catch, group 3 came storming through with big chances of the win such as Doma, and ex rainbow jersey champ Stealthy. From there the finish to stage 2 was amazing. 20 blokes riding hard and fast through the hinterlands, and a dramatic sprint finish - won by the raccoon. - putting most of TKM in the hurt locker.
After stage 2 TKM had a lunch break where we were all able to take stock of the morning, get in some much needed recovery fuel, and contemplate tactics for stage 3 - loch to kongwak 48km.
The final stage was perhaps the most demanding of them all- beginning with 5km climb at 5% from the very beginning, some technical winding descents, single lane roads with sections that had slipped away in heavy rains, windy ridges and dead roads.
The llamatron 3000 had calculated the final stage handicaps, putting me off first with a 4min17sec lead to TKMs favorite Son, the Redneck Hick (aka Woody). Woody is a big powerful man full of emotion and has an engine room like pharlap. The thought of having Woody stalk me through the hills like John Jarrett in wolf creek terrified me, as did my lack of preparation going into this final stage.
The logical part of me said "roll easy until Woody catches you" but the little man in my head said "glory or death". Anyhow I started the final stage with a 4.17 lead and kept it steady up the first hill at 300w just so would not blow up. I crested the first hill and felt good so thought to myself. "If you guys want the win, come get it" I made it my mission to pedal hard for the remainder of the day, meaning that whoever crossed the line first was going to have to work for it.
I expected to be caught on the second hill, but crested that and looked back and could not see anyone. At this point I had 20km to go and started to believe I could hold off the chasers. I hammered the pedals across the windy ridge and made a left hand turn into a long 8km straight an got to within 10km to go. Paddy drove up to me in the support vehicle and told me Woody was getting close. At this point I had 4km to go and could taste victory, but not without having to work for it. The final hill was an absolute heartbreaker, but after rolling over the other side of it, and turning right at huge roundabout Into kongwak, I then knew I was not going to be caught.
I gave a few fist pumps and shouted out in joy and was absolutely thrilled to take the win. It was a great way to put a tough 2013 filled with injuries behind me.
A big thanks to Eagle for huge awesome course, Snowy for organizing accommodation, Paddy and Floz for race support, all the other boys for making it such a great weekend, and King for the format, handicapping and the RRCHAMPS in general.
Although not an "official" race and despite podium places I've achieved in egg n spoon races (TKMs terminology for triathlon) this is the most rewarding event I've ever competed in. Nothing better than riding with your mates.