Amy’s Gran Fondo

Earlier this month, I participated in a ride called Amy’s Gran Fondo – a huge cycling event that’s held annually in September. Since the entire 120km course is held on closed roads and gives participants the opportunity to ride along the renowned Great Ocean Road free of cars, it attracts thousands of people from all over the country. It’s always a bit of a buzz being in Lorne for the event weekend; there’s a great atmosphere and plenty to see and do. On the Saturday afternoon, we watched the Women’s National Road Series race a hot-dog style criterium along Lorne’s main road. Then later, I headed to watch “Amy’s Wall” with some friends – a competition to see who can climb a 110m- stretch of steep road the fastest.

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Lining up to begin the Gran Fondo on the Sunday morning was exciting. I was starting with a group of friends and it was a sight to see the thousands of cyclists lined up behind us, ready to set off. This year was the first time the organisers had reversed the course – first up: the climb out of Lorne to Deans Marsh, that saw the bunch thin out quickly once we started riding. Over the course of the weekend, I saw plenty of past and present Lead Out-ers in their element. It was great to see Lead Out member Rob, who had been training with us specifically for the event, cross the line with an impressive time.

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Last weekend, I headed out to the small town of Cora Lynn to participate in the road race club championships. When the criterium and road racing seasons each come to a close, cycling clubs typically hold an intra-club race to determine their club champion. Though the weather wasn’t great, the racing was lots of fun – and since the women’s bunch was fairly small we all shared the pace-making work. This really helped to keep up our motivation under cloudy skies.

During the race, I noticed some of the more experienced girls sharing their knowledge with others who were fairly new to the racing scene. I know from experience that participating in bike races can be quite a daunting prospect, but if you happen to sign up, you’ll find that everyone is really encouraging of newcomers. Though it might seem like the most nerve-wracking part, the best thing to do is to let someone else in the bunch know “I’m new here” or “I haven’t done this type of race before”, and you’ll likely get a friendly smile and some handy racing tips – everyone’s been in that situation before, and has had someone do the same thing for them.

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To make the most of our training, Lead Out’s coaches have introduced an app to us called Today’s Plan. It collects data during a bike ride, to provide analytics in terms of how hard you worked during that training session and how this impacts the load on your body for longer-term training. Not everyone uses it, but for those that use a heart rate monitor and/or power meter when riding and are working towards a specific event (like Rob at Amy’s Gran Fondo), it can be really beneficial. The analytics go into plenty of detail – some I don’t understand! – but it’s good to know that the Lead Out coaches have access to my data and can work with me to make sure I’m getting the right training in so I’m ready for race day.

Our coaches enter the upcoming group training sessions into the Today’s Plan calendar that shows up when we log in. Each of these group training sessions will target certain training zones during the efforts, and these training zones are specified on my own Today’s Plan profile so I know the type of intensity to aim for when I’m out on the road with the group. On the flip side, if I’ve had a particularly demanding race or ride recently, the coaches are able to identify this through the app and might let me off with fewer reps at the next training session. Just like the cycling app Strava, it’s a great way to track my progress and it’s encouraging to see when I’ve achieved some personal- bests on the bike. It also gives me some handy information around the maximum effort I can hold for a certain amount of time – numbers I’ll have in my head for my next race in a few weeks’ time!

In 2013 Bridget won a competition to be our ‘Zero-to-Euro’ Sponsored rider. During the 12 months Bridge trained with us barely missing a session. She accepted any challenge that came her way and by the years end with thousands of k’s in the legs and numerous races and events she was truly ‘Euro’! Bridge joined as a member in 2014 and continues her monthly blog. Enjoy