10 - Challenge Gold Coast Pic2 Stevo & Sara sml

Posted by Sara Carrigan Columnist for Coast Multisport Magazine

The Gold Coast really does have some of the most beautiful rides and some rather challenging ones!

I know our roads like the back of my hand and let me share a story about a particular section of the Challenge Gold Coast bike course … apparently known as the BEAST as per the description below from the official website www.challenge-goldcoast.com.au!

“…Take a left hand turn into Tallebudgera Connection Road, riding up Tallebudgera Connection Road, this is the big climb with an 18% climb for 150mts and the biggest climb in Australian triathlon events, this is a CHALLENGE make no mistake about it but that is why it’s called Challenge Gold Coast and the hill is called the BEAST…”

My story is mainly about my husband Stevo who has given me permission to recount the events, which will hopefully also provide you with a couple tips for the course!

Stevo and I were out for a 100km ride as part of my preparation for the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games. At this time, Stevo had only recently taken up cycling and was very eager. In fact what I have noticed about most people (especially from a running background) who are new to cycling, is that they only know one pace and that is flat out! Their ability to be dynamic on the bike is limited. The notion of taking it steady so that they can then give a MAXIMAL effort seems to be a foreign concept, which means they cannot easily respond to changes in pace or intensity because it is just max the whole way!

Anyway, Stevo started out in this manner for our 100km ride on this particular day that incorporated Currumbin Valley and the so called BEAST. He was that eager he was even half-wheeling me.

This is also known as being a ‘Harry’ half-wheeler and it’s just not nice! It occurs when the person next to you rides with their front wheel slightly in front of yours and as you try to level up, the speed gradually increases. They have their half wheel in front of yours either because they are not concentrating or they are doing it deliberately to try show you how strong they are and/or trying to get you to hurry up! It can also happen with new riders who are simply unaware that it is both impolite and unkind to their riding partner to not keep level handlebars. If you are riding as a bunch, it can also disrupt the flow of the bunch and become less safe. So, if you are ever paired with a ‘Harry’ half-wheeler, politely let them know! Ride level with the person next to you, not in front of them!

In our case, Stevo just didn’t know and rather than saying anything, I used it as a challenge. However, to be honest I was struggling with the pace! So, to ‘fix’ him I took him up the BEAST!

It is a short climb but it is steep and it is not at all forgiving to the rider who has terrible gear selection, bad technique and poor posture! You want to make sure you hit the bottom of this climb knowing what gear you are in, knowing if or when you are going to get out of the saddle and ensuring you keep a straight line! If you stop on this climb it will be terribly difficult to clip back in and start riding again so just keep pedalling!!

In regards to the Challenge Gold Coast, The BEAST will be about half way through your event so you also want to make sure you have consumed enough energy to get you through the whole course. This may seem rather trivial but this is where many ‘athletes’ come unstuck and hit the wall (otherwise known as bonking and going hunger flat). This is exactly where Stevo came unstuck and hit the wall as he approached the first half of the BEAST … no joke!

When I got to the top and found no sight of Stevo, the competitor in me was cheering with an evil laugh and feeling satisfied that I had got my revenge for all his half-wheeling! After a few minutes of revelling in my small ‘victory’, there was still no sight of Stevo and my cheering quickly turned to worry. I rolled back down the hill and there he was on the side of the road leaning feebly over his bike. When I got to him, his face was drained of colour and it took all of his effort to speak to me.

I gave him some food & drink which perked him up and allowed him to walk the rest of the way to the top but I then had to literally push him down the descent on the other side to the nearest servo for more energy supplies. He had bonked big time and reckons it is one of the worst feelings he has ever encountered. He learnt this lesson the hard way and never wants to go there again or anybody else!

This course is touted as one of Australia’s toughest so ensure you have a nutrition plan in place to handle the tough terrain and the extra energy requirements that this may bring! It is also imperative that you do not use anything new on the day of race. Ensure you try in training first whatever you plan to eat and drink during the event. People make this make mistake all the time and end up with tummy cramps.

It would be such a shame to hamper your race with such a simple thing like this after all the time, money & energy you have spent training. The more prepared you are, the more confident you will be!

Link to site – www.multisportmagazine.com.au

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