Things intensified significantly in the 4 weeks leading into our club’s inaugural Yunca Junior Tour of Southland campaign, where our usual one-club-ride-a-week suddenly expanded into three or even five rides per week. As the training duration and intensity started to ramp up, the enormity of what we had in store for us in this 3 day, 6 stage Tour came into clear focus. Daunted as everyone was, this only served to trigger a redoubling of effort. There was a lot of digging deep, some walls hit – and broken through – and many historical records broken on our regular club circuits.
A well-earned taper phase (and a week off school) was a perfect prelude, considering what was to come. Thursday morning dawned clear and cold, and we were off to Invercargill. A reconnaissance of the day two routes brought a taste of things to come as a short arctic blast and rain shower caught the riders while they were out on their 17km pre-race recon. Registration at the velodrome followed our first team briefing and a good dinner was cooked by the riders in time for an early night.
Photo Competition Entries
Day One: Individual Time Trial and Kermesse at Teretonga Raceway
Teretonga Raceway served as the venue for the first day’s racing, which started with the high-pressure Individual Time Trial on a smooth, fast course that hid a subtle uphill on the upwind section. With warm-ups complete, the team made short work of this stage, knowing the time data for this trial would set expectations for the rest of the race. This event favoured track cyclists, something none of our riders are, but everyone was satisfied with their time.
The Kermesse in the afternoon – a multi-lap race of the circuit in age groups – was brutal for many riders, some of whom struggled to hold on to the main peloton and thus completed the ride solo; a feat at least 30% harder than the main bunch.
Day Two: Two Brutal Road Races in the Antarctic Hail and Wind
A torrential downpour overnight set the scene for the antarctic conditions for day two. Two brutal road races over ‘undulating’ terrain were completed while the weather oscillated between horizontal hailstorms and hopeful glimpses of icy sunshine. The riding was hard, especially for the lighter members of the team who were at the mercy of the relentless winds. Laurie battled on solo after a nasty crash, as did Oliver in the afternoon and the team were proud to complete the day mostly intact, and still in the tour. Over 15 riders had already pulled out of the event.
That night all 31 of the team and their crew shared a meal, where Alex took a moment to express how proud he was of every rider in turn. Sleep was the order of the day, and prayers for some respite in the weather
Day Three: Inner City Criterium and Road Race
Not a little relief accompanied our arrival at the inner city criterium course to find that the day dawned clear and calm. Another fast race, more suited to track riders, started the day and saw some outstanding strategic riding and over-all performances from many on the team.
The final road race, the longest of the tour for many, was held on a flatter course in calmer, sunnier, warmer conditions than we’d met all weekend. What a difference a day makes, our mainly-triathlete contingent took to this longer ride and put in performances and efforts that were, for many, the best of the tour.
Many congratulations were exchanged and not a few jellybeans consumed as the team cheered Laurie in as the last rider (his event was 30% longer) to complete the tour. Our campaign was complete with a lot learned. Bring on our summer Triathlon Season. We couldn’t have had better winter training.