The World Master's Champs (UCI sanctioned) was held in Perth Australia this year in Sept. The UK qualifier was at the Tour of Cambridgeshire where the top 25% of each age group qualified in the time trial or the road race. There are 15 qualifiers across the world. In order to compete in the final you must wear the kit of your country. Riders from 37 different countries raced 105kms or 155kms from Elizabeth Quay to Kalamunda.
The UWCT women's road race was 105km which included 1,250m of climbing. All female age groups were set off as one....about 200 riders in total. The race was split into two halves: the first 50k pancake flat on the motorway and the next 50k consisted of one lap of a mountainous circuit. I had hoped that there would be breaks in the first half but I think that as everyone knew that the climbing was to come we all stayed as a peloton on the motorway and arrived at the climbs with relatively fresh legs.....that is until one of the men's 200 strong peloton caught us... at which point all hell broke loose. Approximately 40 riders went down in an almighty pile up. I managed to use the hard shoulder and avoid the bodies but now the peloton was blown to smithereens and it was every man (or woman) for themselves trying to catch the wheel in front. After a few miles of this I managed to find a few other female GB riders and we settled down to start climbing. I am not a climber and coupled with a poor season for training due to trying to work full time and write up a PhD at the same time, it began to take its toll. The climb to the finish was long and I could not have been happier to cross that line. However, it didn't end there as it was a good hour's ride back to Perth from the finish. The organisers had laid on some buses but too few. At least I got a proper cool down! And not one pot hole in site!
I would definitely do it again. Next year the final is in France so a bit more accessible than Australia! However, be warned...the standard of the other teams far outweighs even the fastest qualifiers that we had here in the UK.
After qualifying in the Tour of Cambridge, along with a few other CCC riders, I was looking forward to the challenge of riding with some of the strongest amateur riders from around the world. CCC riders in the 2015 finals, including Anna, had forewarned me to expect a significantly higher standard of fitness and bike handling than may have been displayed at the ToC. They weren't kidding...
After a brief recce of some of the course and copious amounts of melatonin to sort out the body clock, race day arrived dry, cold and clear. My age group comprised about 180 entrants, many of whom were eyeing up the bikes and talking up their game before the off. I remember quietly contemplating the pain to come. With Anthony's advice in my mind (don't lose the bloomin' peloton!) we covered an uneventful first 50Km in a little over the hour. The boy White even enjoyed a brief sojourn on the front (sorry Coach). There were no pile-ups or any of the general sketchy handling I'd become accustomed to through the 2016 season. And then the roads started to climb...
Some statistics: according to my Garmin this year's Ride 100 was 159.5Km, including 1,326m of climbing, which the first riders completed in a little over 4 hours. This race was 154.5Km, including 2,164m of climbing and, in my age group, a winning time of a little over 4 hours. I make that an extra 800m of climbing... The course profile was always going to suit the matchstick riders. We rode at sea level for 50km, then climbed about 2100m, riding twice around a 50Km loop. Here is a map and profile of the route.
What struck me was the incessant pace up the first hill, a 7Km zigzag combination at around 3-4%, which we went on to climb three times. The peloton barely slowed; by the summit it had all but disappeared! The rest of the 50Km loop comprised unspoiled road which simply climbed up and fell away again, again and again. The sights and smells were beautiful - think riding through an outdoor branch of the Holland and Barrett spice store. That took my mind off the increasing pain. I held 300W avg for about the first 80 minutes and averaged more than 240W over the entire race. My FTP is 324W on a 20' test...
Interpretation of the race results confirms that a strong breakaway of three riders headed by, I'm told, a former Aussie Pro rider went on to take the spoils, with a smaller peloton of about thirty riders a few minutes behind. The rest of the field, me included, was smashed! Having said that, the experience was outstanding: full race support, UCi rainbow jerseys, national anthems - simply outstanding. Writing a simple journal cannot do it justice. Just beyond the finish line was a bar, stuffed full of spectators and the best tasting pint of lager I can remember in a long time. Hydration...
Next year, the UK qualifier is again ToC, and the finals are to be held in the beautiful city of Albi, France. I would very much like to see a CCC contingent, (a) qualify in the ToC, (b) travel to Albi and (c) work together to place a rider further up front in the final push.
A final word: qualification in the ToC seems straight-forward: top 25% in your age category and about 4 hours to cover 82miles of pan-flat fenland. But Albi is hilly; I think anything much more than about 3.5 hrs at ToC will simply not be quick enough. Perhaps we should arrange to ride the qualifier in France, which happens to be in Albi... Who will be there?