Last year I wrote about a great new Women’s Cycling Tour being held in Murray Bridge, South Australia. It was the first year it was being held and being run by the Skinny Lattes Cycling Club. They had invited Hand Cyclists and Trikes to take part. I came over last year and competed, had a great time and vowed to come back if the dates fit with my training and racing.
So Friday I headed back to Murray Bridge which is an hour from Adelaide to take part in the 2nd Annual Women’s Tour. This time I brought along a friend Clare, who had never raced before. I had to do some talking her into it but I knew that she would do okay as I have been riding with her for a while.
The Time Trial was held on Saturday morning on the same course as last year on Usher Road just 7km out of Murray Bridge. It was tough heading out on the 5.4km route which was uphill and into a tough head wind, but after the turn around it was a fabulous downhill run with the tailwind! I hit 59.7km on the way home and was very happy with the end result. Clare ended up 2nd in the TT in the Women’s D grade and was quite pleased with her ride even though it sounded like she had left her lungs out on the course! She definitely put everything she had into it!
The Crit was held on Saturday afternoon at Sturt Reserve right on the banks of the Murray River in Murray Bridge. It is a fabulous 1.4km crit course on the road and through the car parking area of the Reserve but totally blocked off to traffic. I raced with the D grade women and took off from the bunch from the start with the young 15 year old Sophie on my tail. It was Sophie’s first time racing other than Junior races and she was very keen to learn. She had won the D grade TT and was looking good to take the crit as well. We took turns around the course and with 2 laps to go we picked up the speed, then with 1 lap to go she took off! All of a sudden Clare appeared and passed me as well! But Sophie was well ahead at that point. So the placings were the same for her and Clare.
Each of the grades were very well represented on Saturday right from A down to D as well as 8 Tandems also taking part this year. The evening was a dinner at the Murray Bridge Hotel and I don’t think they had ever seen that many riders take over the Conference room. In fact one of the waitresses stated to me that she had been working there for 4 years and had never seen so many people in that room.
Sunday morning was the Road Race. There was a controlled ride out to the course although I did drive out to the start to meet the group. The tandems were sent off first with the rest of us heading off together. It was a 44km course with a fairly flat start but it became a bit undulating after 20km. Clare and I were dropped off the main pack but stayed ahead of most of the D grade women, other than two Sophie and Katrina. So Clare and I worked together throughout the entire race. I had a 30km target in mind as I race 30km internationally and was really happy to say I not only attained it but beat it by almost 2 minutes. In the end we had a sprint to the finish with Clare pipping me at the post. But I was happy to have gone about 14 minutes faster than last year.
Back at Sturt Reserve on a beautiful afternoon the awards were handed out to some very happy riders! My friend Clare ended up taking 2nd over in the GC in D grade and for her first ever foray into the world of cycle racing what a great way to end the weekend. The event has grown a huge amount from last year with 55 riders registered and taking part this year and certainly looks set to grow next year. The organisation is second to none with lots of local volunteers helping out and the local council supporting the event 100%. There was even prize money handed out to all GC place getters which was fantastic.
I can’t recommend this event enough, not only for new riders wanting to try racing but also to A grade riders. With riders taking part from all over South Australia, one from Queensland and a couple of us from Victoria, it is an event that we should push for people to attend! It is a welcoming and friendly atmosphere and although the racing is fast and furious the entire event has that laid back South Australian feel.
Thank you to Lynette and Felicity from the Skinny Lattes Cycling Club and their committee for putting on a fantastic event. I will be working hard to get a good contingent from Victoria next year to come over and take part! What can be better than some great racing, great people, a nice glass of wine and watching the sunset over the Murray River!