Bridge storms to victory in Mansfield

Team mountain goat, Bridget Lester, went down to the wire at Mansfield Tour, overcoming a shaky start to take line honours and the overall win on Stage 3. Read all about it here…

Amongst friends, I have a reputation for being a terrible time-trialler. Last year, I proudly sported some time trial bars for a certain TT, only to become preoccupied with my recently-manicured hands gripping the bars in front of me during the ride. Needless to say I didn’t win that one…

But it seems I can ride up hills a bit better than I can TT. And one very important lesson I learnt a few years ago is that those who do well in the time trial stage won’t necessarily be good climbers, and vice versa. So when I found myself standing on the start line of Stage 3 of the 2016 Mansfield Tour, almost two minutes down on the General Classification for Women’s B Grade, I knew that the climb up to the finish line at the top of Mt Buller would make things interesting.

Because of smaller numbers in both grades, Women’s B and C were to race together. For my teammie Niki, this would have been an interesting experience given Mansfield was her B Grade debut! It was a bit chilly at the start of the race but that was all forgotten when Niki put in two big attacks to try and break the bunch up. Soon after, we began the climb and I found myself in a small group of 6 or so at the front. The girls were setting a good pace but I hung on and tried to remember all the technique and tips I go through in training; bend your elbows, focus on your breathing, etc – I find it a good distraction when my legs are hurting.

Slowly some of the girls began to drop off and before I knew it, I was riding alone with a really strong rider from Women’s C Grade. I’d been a bit afraid to look behind us for fear of seeing the bunch approaching, so when I finally did, and the road was clear, it was a big relief. Only a few minutes later, we looked back behind us again but this time spotted some riders. Panic! Until… we realised they were competitors from a men’s grade. Phew! The notorious hairpins over the last 2km or so of Buller really took it out of us as we rode alongside each other. Whenever we could manage, we’d give the other some breathless words of encouragement, “Not far to go!”… “Keep it up!”. But tired legs were no match for an amazing feeling when I spotted the finish line welcomed by Jo and Kristi who had raced in A grade. Together, we cheered the rest of our team mates, Anna and Niki, as they rolled over the finishing line having recorded some personal-best ride times. What a team! Looking forward to another big weekend of racing at Warrnambool’s Tour of South West, where Trek Fondo will be strongly represented across all grades.

xo Bridge

Find Bridge on Instagram and Twitter to follow her on her cycling adventures.

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