I’ve just returned from an excellent weekend of cycling in the NSW central west town of Bathurst. Bathurst holds a special place in my memories because I attended University there some years ago just after I left school so it’s always a pleasure to go back for a nostalgic visit.
Every year Bathurst Cycling Club and Cycling NSW host a great weekend attended by lots of locals and plenty of Sydney cyclists who want to challenge themselves and breathe in some good country air.
There are three events included in the weekend – the NSW Hill Climb Championship, Bathurst Criterium Races and the Blayney to Bathurst race/ride (B2B), a Sportif rather than a race for most of us, which for the uninitiated is a ‘timed event’.
A Sportif is a step up from your average charity ride or ‘fun’ event so it’s a great goal to set yourself. For me it means that you’re more focused on a completing the ride in a particularly time rather than a charity ride where my goal is usually just to finish it. So if you’re looking to step up to the next level in your cycling then a Sportif is an excellent option. There are a number of them around Australia including the Amy Gillett Gran Fondo which is on 14 September this year and is run on Victoria’s picturesque Great Ocean Road.
The B2B attracts a wide range of cyclists from elite riders who want to ‘win’ these events, to masters riders of all age categories who just want to challenge themselves, and juniors who want to test their legs.
Unlike a ‘fun’ event like the annual Sydney to Gong ride or Melbourne’s Around the Bay, most riders who turn up for the B2B are road cyclists. During the event I counted just six riders who weren’t on road bikes – two were on flat bar road bikes, and a group of four on mountain bikes fitted with smooth tyres. Everyone else I encountered was riding a road bike so you can imagine the bike bling that was kicking around all weekend.
I’m part of the women’s team of my club so while I didn’t compete in either the Hill Climb or the Crit which was held on the Saturday, I was there to support the other team members and cheer them on.
On Sunday I completed the 70 km course rather than the full length 110 km of the B2B. It’s an undulated course from start to finish so it’s definitely not easy and there were times when I wondered why I was there, but I felt great when I crossed the finish line. My time was pretty good and similar to the time that the winner took to complete the 110 km course! But for me it was pretty good and provides a benchmark for my ongoing training program. It’s something to improve on next year.
The best part of any weekend like this is the social side. We shared a house with some other team members and their partners and really enjoyed each other’s company. Unlike many weekends away, the partying is fairly restrained because everyone is there to ride and that usually involves an early morning start. No one seems to mind making that sacrifice though.
So my recommendation is to find a cycling sportif, also called a Gran Fondo in your state and even if it involves a weekend away, sign up and get training.