Neve Bradbury: Post off season catch up

I was tired and ready for the off season, with the Tour of Romandie my last race for the season. It had been a long season, which had started in January at the National Championships. The day after Romandie, myself and a few teammates went for a hike at Lac Blanc with amazing views to Mont Blanc. My legs were sore for days!  Following on from this, I went back to Girona for a few days before heading to Andorra where I enjoyed some more hikes and runs, which ended with me injuring my knee and having a period of enforced total rest until the end of my off season. I’m not great at doing nothing, so this was quite the challenge!

I returned to Australia at the start of November. The plane trip was long and arduous, not helped by the fact that I was full of a cold, and my knee was still acting up. Australia is experiencing La Nina so the weather has been very wet and cold too, but it’s nice to be home to catch up with friends, family, and my dogs!

I headed to Bright, in the high country of Victoria after I’d been home for a week. It was wet for the first few days, which gave me the opportunity to relax and spend time with friends.

Bright, and the surrounding areas are well-known for having great roads, and a friendly culture towards cyclists. The Cattlemen 100 mountain bike race is an event I’ve been interested in doing for a few years. Although we use metric measurements in Australia, the Cattlemen race is measured in miles, not kilometres! 166 kilometres of gravel and mountains awaits riders, starting in Omeo. My boyfriend had previously raced this event, and had told me there was the option of an 80k route. This, I thought was manageable with very limited fitness after 4 weeks off, and then only a couple of weeks of training. It turned out that there was no 80k option, and he’d instead entered me in the 100 mile! I wasn’t particularly happy! I was concerned that my lack of fitness would mean that it was going to be too long and not very enjoyable! 

We awoke at 5.30am. The hotel we were staying at had nothing but beds, fortunately we had brought breakfast supplies, bowls etc. 166k necessitates a good breakfast! 6 weetbix later, I was at the starting line! It was a brisk, foggy 7 degrees. My plan for the race was to find a good bunch that I could ride with, so I wasn’t alone. I found myself in a group of 8 until the 70km mark when I was forced to unclip at a steep, muddy section. I had worn road shoes and used road pedals. Due to the injury I’d had I didn’t want to challenge my knee by wearing different shoes/pedals etc. Unfortunately, this meant that I couldn’t clip my feet back in, and I lost touch with the bunch. I walked to the feed zone, which was up a tough 500m hill, where I was able to sit down and remove the mud from my cleats. I realised that I wasn’t going to get back on the bunch, so I rode at my own pace, and took time to enjoy the views. Around 15km later, I was joined by another rider, and then another, and we rode together until the finish.  Although there wasn’t a lot of talking amongst our little group, I feel we bonded over a tough 4 hours together!  When I passed through the finish line, I was greeted by boyfriend smiling, waiting for me! (He’d had ample time after finishing the race to shower, and change into casual clothes).  It was a bit of a shock to the system, but a good kick start to the pre-season fitness! I really enjoyed the event, and I’m keen to race it again!

Thanks for reading!


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