Sunday, November 6, 2011

2011 Stratford to Dargo

Arriving at the start of the Stratford to Dargo is a daunting moment. For those who had raced before, the knowledge of what lies ahead certainly did not make the task any easier. This race attracts those who LOVE a challenge and pushing their own fitness to a new level. From its inception three years ago as an open event, race organisers Mike Renehan and Grant Smith along with all involved in the Wellington Cycling Club have certainly found the journey from Stratford to Dargo providing new challenges each year and this year was a great race and each year it just gets BETTER!

This time of year sees the Cyclesport Victoria Calendar full of a smorgasbord of adventure and challenge, but this is one to put on the list of races to complete (and still many never make it to the top), the journey from quiet country town Stratford to the High Country town of Dargo.

A Grade Podium, 3 Trent Morey, 1. Jason Spencer and 2 Rowan Dever
 The race left in four waves, Men's A and B grades, Masters 2,3 and 4, Men's C Grade and finally the Masters 5+ and all women.

Dargo, a pretty country town is taken over by pedal power!
  Reports were that the pace was on from the end of the controlled section and it was going to be a tough day in the saddle. The tough and constant undulations of Stockdale Road and Beverleys Road, did not stop constant attacks in the bunches and by the feed station at the 60km mark, the 4 bunches resembled on long string of smaller groups and individuals

Most had nothing left when they crossed the line
 Wellington Club had a band of helpers on intersections, at the start and along the route in various places and vehicles and all advised that the race seemed to be very serious this year in all grades, even though the real race begins at Dargo!

A band of Wellington members were involved
  The A & B grade bunch had split into two groups early and by the 25km mark the front 5 riders had a 4-5 minute gap on the chasing bunch and this gap grew to 7 minutes closer to Dargo, but the final climb was to come and this is where fitness in the legs and body become secondary to strength of mind and spirit.

Winner of MMAS5 Tony Chandler before the race
  Jason Spencer who was the overall winner was in the chasing bunch for most of the race, but somewhere moved from a chaser to a leader finding the right balance of mind and body in his race to tackle the climb and win. If you are reading this and have never completed this race, then put it on your calendar for next year as it will challenge everything you have. You need to have fitness and all those that have ridden it challenge you to get on your bike and finish the race!

Mens A and B grades lined up at the start
  You will need to have a helper to give you drinks at the drink station at the 60km mark. There is a neutral feed station at the 90 km mark, where you can get final water before the final ascent. You also need the right gears for the ride. Popular choice is a 32 on the back with standard front chainring but a compact on the front might mean a 28 or 29 on the back will be enough. Seriously it is a small gear but your legs will love you for it!

Even the number of girls was impressive this year and at the start they are all smiling!
  Full results will be available from the Cyclesport website during the week and finish line photos and some other randoms will be at by Wednesday this week. 

At the feed station, some of the faces were looking race weary
There are also a lot of reports from various groups and teams about this ride and individual blog accounts. A good place to start is Google search and also #R2S via Twitter. 
Some were feeling the heat as the warm weather meant fluids intake was vital
If you are still not convinced it is a tough ride you can just ask the 30-40% of riders that don't get to the top each year. The attrition rate is due to the tough ride to Dargo, Mecahnical issues and just being undergeared, underfed, underwatered, under prepared or underdone for such a challenge

A Grade Women's winner Miranda Griffiths
Congratulations to all who completed the challenge. At actionpactpix, you can download the pic of yourself crossing the finish line for FREE after Wednesday when they are ready for view.

Mens B Grade podium 3 D Strauss, 1 N Bien and 2 F Sully

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