Topbike Tours Hanging Rock Handicap
Hanging Rock Handicap 2020
Another Raging Success!
Read on for results, event report, rider stories, thank yous, links to more photos, survey results and a heap of quotes….
‘Brilliant day out’
‘Fantastic event – loved being part of the largest participation women’s race in Australia!’
‘Best race of the year. Amazing to see women being able to compete on a level playing field.’
‘First official road race, had a blast! Hope it continues to grow’
‘Such a great event with such encouragement and a great starting point for women in racing.’
‘It was awesome. I felt it was a team event, not a road race. Everything was right on.’
We thought last year’s Hanging Rock Handicap was a great success. Well, the 2020 edition broke all records and has well and truly established this race as the benchmark in women’s road racing.
This edition we kept the same formula, the same inclusive and friendly vibe, the same handicap format, challenging course, beautiful scenic venue, skills sessions and extensive publicity.
In addition, and in response to feedback from last year, we were able to offer a program of skill development specifically targeted at local riders but open to all, thanks to a grant from Macedon Ranges Shire Council.
We tweaked the course so it comprised two identical laps, passing by the park entrance, with the addition of traffic control around the start/finish.
Post-race we expanded our healthy catering offerings and provided (almost) free massages, thanks to physio students.
We welcomed major sponsor Topbike Tours as well as Index Consultants, who provided free bidons and gels to every rider.
Handicapping was again a challenge, with so many new racers, and many closely-matched riders. Behind the scenes the handicappers worked tirelessly, using every resource available, and scientific rigour, to ensure that every individual was given a chance to shine.
By race day, we had 122 entries, of which about 28% had never raced on the road before, and in addition many were new to the handicap format. Those who had raced before, had good bunch riding experience or had attended skills sessions certainly were advantaged.
Bunches were set off at intervals of several minutes, the slowest (limit) first, and fastest (scratch) 39 minutes later. Each group had a short briefing from the commissaires, exchanged friendly words and hatched plans. Those whose plans included keeping their bunch together as long as possible were ultimately the most successful. A few groups learned the hard way that pushing the pace too hard early can result in frustration and dropped riders, and that a smooth-operating group trumps a couple of strong riders.
After an hour and a bit, most bunches completed their first 33km lap on schedule, each having halved their time gaps to limit, at the front of the race. In quick succession a handful of stalwarts from limit, half of the 31-minute group and almost all of the 24-minute group passed the half way mark. Half of the 20-minute group remained, while the 17- and 14-minute groups had merged into a killer force.
The 9-minute bunch were hotly pursued by a virtually full complement of 5-minute riders while the elite scratch markers were sharpening their knives. Anyone still hanging on by the end of Three Chain Road would have felt their optimism rising, especially if they could sniff riders in front. But as per the handicap playbook, hopes were dashed, much splintering and merging of groups occurred, especially around the Don’s Rd pinch, when fatigue and fading power took their toll. The friendliness and encouragement offered by overtaking riders was commented upon by many.
Novice racer Ivana Chiccelli,(24 mins) having gained smarts and confidence in pre-race skills sessions, let her legs guide her to a well-deserved win, narrowly out-sprinting Robyn Woodward-Kron (also 24 mins), in only her second race outing. 24 minutes was the winning group, with six members making the top 20, but a number of start groups were represented at the front.
The organisers were delighted to see a constant stream of proud riders salute the chequered flag, with half the riders crossing the line within 5 minutes of the winner, and about three quarters within ten minutes. Fastest scratch rider, coming in 2 and a half minutes down, and fastest time overall, was young Neve Bradbury with an impressive average speed of 37.7kph.
Overall the 2020 Topbike Tours Hanging Rock Handicap delivered just what the doctor ordered – another well-supported race, with no incidents, an exciting finish, and great vibes. Living up to it’s moniker of Australia biggest and best women’s road race. Building the women’s cycling community one race at a time!
Here are some rider stories
From the 24-minute bunch
A mixed group of women, included last year’s winner, experienced racers and others brand new to the game, our team split in two as we reached Rochford rise with the first lap completed in just over one hour. Alex Hailstone stood out doggedly crossing the gap between the split groups. The pace picked up as Ivana urged all to do the 2nd lap in sub 1 hour. Robyn responded and they both powered forward gradually shedding the rest of the group (and 13 seconds). Ivana and Robyn taking 1st and 2nd while Cathy Evans determinedly hung on until the Colwell’s Road turn to just miss third placing. Kath Simpson only seconds behind. Good day out for 3rd limit with 4 placings out of the 10.
This was my second year and in the same time group of 14 minutes. There was some merging of groups this year which made it a more interesting race. Our group had a fast start for the first 8 kms, with a few causalities. With some guidance from group leaders Erin Ferguson and Debra Lindstrom, we then stuck together and picked up the 17min group late on the first lap. This group divided after an attack on the first left hand corner of the second lap. We were a group of 6 then a further 6 made it over and we continued to roll around until the latter half of the second lap, when half of the 9min group caught us. There was some fussing around until this settled into a group of about 8 and we held together until the sharp rise of Don’s Rd, when we again split into two groups. I was in the second group and we rolled together to the final turn. We did not catch the four ahead of us but we did cross the line before scratch.
We were the 4th group of 13 riders to leave the blocks. Well represented by 4 Birrarung CC members. Not long after we departed the girls were quickly rolling turns into the wind, thanks to the quick thinking of Aileen. When we turned the first corner the road became narrow and snake-like and quite fast, so you really had to concentrate and watch wheels. It became apparent that we were going to work together well for the rest of the race. In that time, we dropped some riders and became a strong group of 7. With 10kms to go I thought to myself no one had caught us yet, but sure enough it was about to happen. With 7kms to go and before the turn into Don’s Rd, a large group of riders came past and I didn’t react quick enough, but 2 of our girls did and they got on the back of the bunch. Well done Suzanne (20) Lisa (22) overall.
I worked super hard to keep the bunch together and burned all my matches so I got spat with about 10km to go – but I think everyone in the bunch had a really good ride, so I’m happy with that!
The 17min crew worked smartly together, teaching me how to do rolling turns, offering racing tips and super encouraging when I jumped on other bunches.
The 14min caught us, I jumped on and then I jumped on the next bunch that caught us, possibly the 9min? I hung on, but lost them 10kms to go. Didn’t realise my back brake was pressed on the wheel for the last 10kms. Bit of resistance training.
The 24min group was amazing. Constant encouragement of each other. Rolled turns well together until the last few kms where we agreed to let the race play out. So proud of the others in our group who managed to snag the first few places. I was super nervous as I assumed I would be the weakest in my group but as a team we were strong. We only had the 31 and 39 groups in front of us. Apart from the one group of 4 Birrarung girls, all of them were by themselves. There were some strong riders in limit like Patti that I knew were ahead. We kept passing rider after rider. Still no Patti. And still no faster groups caught us. At about 6km to go we caught Patti. Only one other rider in the distance ahead of her. At this stage we were the 5 remaining from our original group. But we knew the faster groups were coming and likely to catch us. So we just all went 100% to the finish line. The fastest three took off and I hoped they’d hold out. With only a short distance remaining three very fast riders went flying past me. Don’t catch the 24min girls I’m hoping to myself. Go go go. At this stage I expected 20-40 fast riders to come flying past me. When I turned around and couldn’t see any more I finally realised I might place top ten. Pushed myself to my limit to sprint to the finish line and didn’t dare look behind me for the last section on Colwells Rd. Told myself just do you best. Go 100% and whatever happens, happens. You tried your hardest and that’s all that matters.
It was great to go from racing against these women to becoming part of the scratch team with the goal to catch limit. It was an epic team time trial, our rolling turns were smoother than a washing machine on a spin cycle and we were pushing hard to chase down 39min limit group advantage. In the last few kms the race tactics began. Each woman was going for fastest course time so the group would go from chasing attacks to practically going backwards when caught. Even though we didn’t catch limit we were only a couple of minutes behind.
8th bunch to leave, 9:35am or second last bunch, 5 min bunch. Our group started working from the get go, tight turns and good communication from the girls. This was a group of people that had clearly raced before, knew how to do a turn and work hard behind a united mission to catch the people in front of us. We were all head down and focused on the wheel in front and doing your turn when the time came, keeping it smooth. We had someone in our crew that knew which way to roll in the wind, and confidently took charge: this was invaluable. The amazing thing was when we started to catch and pass people, we all wished the rider well ‘well done, keep riding’ to encourage them to finish, it didn’t feel like we had beaten anyone; just that we had achieved something as a working unit. We got caught by scratch with about 4kms to go, with the four remaining riders lead by Jen Pettenon, who said Hi and was super encouraging as she passed. A partner on the side of the road noted to us that we would never catch limit they had 2 minutes on us, but no one would begrudge the winners staying away.
I had a great time and there were no issues whatsoever in the group about my trike. I spoke to everyone at the start and told them exactly what I say to new people riding with me on SKCC rides. That is to not worry about me, I know how wide I am and will stay out of people’s way. I ended up doing most of it on my own as I suspect some of the limit group might have been in the wrong group. But I dropped some and didn’t get caught by the scratch group until 15km to go, so I was happy with that!
We were third off the start and a large peloton of about 15 friendly women. We stayed together as a large group working very well together until a few ks in when the group split into 2. Poor Alex H got stuck on the curb in the back group but made an amazing sprint over many kms to re-join the front pack. Together we worked amazingly well until about 7km to go when it started to fragment a little until by the turn onto Don’s we were spread out as singles and pairs. Along Don’s road the faster riders started to pass some of us but Ivana and Robyn hang on to take out 1st and 2nd and Cathy and Kath also in the top ten.
Note these full results include latest updates and improved accuracy (thanks to Sunbury CC) – http://bit.ly/resultsHRH2020
Starters 111, finishers 98
Sarah Turnbull Lanterne Rouge (last to finish).
Rachel Delaney – Birrarung CC
Suzanne Schrinder, Jac Shirl, Beth Lacey, Kelly Dalton, Tara Neyland for outstanding efforts on the day, as judged by their peers.
Rachel Delaney (Birrarung CC) for recruiting achievement.
Media – Check out these great photos and video!
Photos by Henry Yates available through this Dropbox link, http://bit.ly/photosHRH2020
Free to share, with acknowledgement
Macedon Ranges Shire Council, events and festivals program
Topbike Tours David Olle www.topbike.com.au
Index Consultants (Bianca Pickett GM) www.index.com.au
Pedla (& Jen Pettenon) thepedla.com
Hawthorn Cycling Club for all kinds of support, material and expertise including handicapping and publicity.
Race day volunteers
Traffic controller: Steve Moulton, drivers Michael Dam, Sarah Smith, Matt Bufardeci, Allan O’Neill
Corners – Gary Lowe, Linda Tubnor, Matt Irons, Matt Kemp, Ian Robinson, Tony Caruso, Caitlin Feeney, Paul Lewis, Brett Lindstrom
Rego – Brendan Cleary, Elaine King, Michael King, Bianca Pickett
Ride Marshal: Samantha Zan-Lewis, Brydie Clark
General – Damian King
Catering – Liz Hilton, Zoe Bright, Rae Lesniowska, Brendan Cleary, Elaine, Andrew and Michael King
Timing and Entryboss and general support: Colin Bell & Sunbury CC
Race day commissaires: Luke McDonough, Peter Markey, David Hendy, Simon Perry and John Wyatt, Colin Bell
Lou Wolfers – poster design
Henry Yates – photographer www.henryyates.com
Cameron Hales – videographer cameronhales.com
Ian Skene – perpetual trophy
Victorian Physio Students Bushfire Appeal (Alex Cullen) facebook.com/vicphysiobushfireappeal
Kilowatt Cycle Coaching for their skills sessions (Will Howard and Matt Scott) www.kilowatt.cc
Finances: Sophie Katris
A massive team effort from everyone at HCC incl Jess McLelland, Amy Thompson, Sarah Fitton, Sam Smith, and shout out to Erin Ferguson
Thanks to the generosity of riders who raised $492 for Macedon Ranges Wildlife Rescue
All the riders and supporters who participated, spread the word, gave feedback, and helped build this wonderful women’s cycling community – thank you!
Check out the results of our post-race survey here
More quotes from participants
‘It was a fabulous race, great groups of women to ride with, tonnes of support given to all riders and a very positive vibe for the entire day. A terrific day on the bike, I am already looking forward to next year!’
‘Hanging Rock was the most perfect introduction to my first road race.
Really well-run event, nailed my handicap and has left me hungry for more!! Cannot wait for next year!’
‘Loved it! Interested in possibly doing more racing!!’
‘Absolutely brilliant. Both chase groups encouraged me to jump in the women were really friendly. I had a lot of fun and I was very proud of the group I was in because we were killing it with the rolling turns and keep a strong pace.’
‘I had great fun and made me want to do more handicap races’
‘Can’t wait to see some of these new faces out there at future races giving it a go. I need some company up the back of WC.’
‘This was the most fun I have had in a race for a long time and I loved how supportive everyone was. It had a great atmosphere and I look forward to signing up again next year.’
‘Amazing event, thanks for all of your efforts in supporting women’s racing’
Race director, among other things
Introducing our sponsors
Topbike Tours www.topbike.com.au
Our headline sponsor, Topbike Tours provide unique small group cycling tour experiences that set them apart from other tour operators. They are the most experienced Australian owner operated European cycle tour company, they maintain a fully equipped European base, a fleet of top end road bikes for rental, plus e-bikes available on every tour, and offer an impressive list of inclusions, including their famous kit!
Choose you next European cycling adventure with David Olle and team!
Index Consultants www.index.com.au
INDEX Consultants is an Awesome IT Professional services firm, helping businesses achieve their IT goals. INDEX’s General Manager, Bianca Pickett, is a passionate cyclist and is going to pin on a number and take her chances in the race. Much of INDEX’s success of the past 3 decades can be attributed to their diverse culture and the support of women in the corporate world. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-uwlw5u73TI&feature=youtu.be
On race day INDEX will be providing each entrant with some goodies to help during the race, prizes for podium getters and some much needed support and cheers.
Please go and talk to them, pick up your pre-race goodies and enjoy a conversation with other passionate cyclists.
Entries are now open! entryboss.cc/races/4565
Final (new and improved!) race route www.strava.com/routes/17509743
Now with massages! Thanks to Victorian Physiotherapy Students Bushfire Appeal www.facebook.com/vicphysiobushfireappeal/
Still more skills sessions! entryboss.cc/calendar/hcc
Stay up to date on HCC and SheRace Facebook pages.
Brought to you by Hawthorn Cycling Club, The Hanging Rock Handicap is back in 2020, and better than ever, thanks to our generous sponsors TopBike and Macedon Ranges Shire Council.
Join Australia’s biggest and best women’s road race event!
Here’s what 2019 participants had to say…
‘Atmosphere was encouraging and enthusiastic. All abilities were catered for and respected. Well organised, safe and fun. Race vibes were electric!’
‘Well organized. Lovely supportive people. Great course. Great atmosphere.’
‘Never seen anything quite like it before. The buzz was amazing.’
‘It was everything I want and love in a race’
65km women-only road race, handicap format, based at the picturesque Hanging Rock Reserve, only one hour from Melbourne.
The race course is on quiet rolling roads around Hanging Rock, Lancefield and Newham.
See last year’s course here (we’re looking at minor changes to the route) – https://www.strava.com/routes/15852656
Safety and amenity is our priority. Precautions include CA-qualified race commissaires, traffic controllers (hopefully including some road closures), corner marshals, follow cars, first aid. The race has permits from council, VicRoads, police and CV.
We’ll have the same beautiful Hanging Rock backdrop for registration and post-race celebrations, coffee cart, BBQ and more.
Date and Time
Saturday Feb 22, 2020.
Start time for limit group 0900 (tbc)
Likely finish time ~ 1200
1st to 10th over the line, plus fastest time.
Perpetual trophy, plus random prizes at the discretion of the organisers!
Thanks to our sponsors, we’re keeping entry costs down and delivering great value.
You will need a CA race licence (there are a few options, so stay tuned, or see https://cycling.org.au/membership/join-now)
Entries will be via entryboss.cc and will open in January.
Who is the race for?
Pretty much anyone who is up for a challenge, whether elite, experienced in road riding, or not. You need some group riding experience, and to be able to maintain a pace of about 26km/h over 2.5hrs (rough guide only).
To get you prepared we are offering low cost skills sessions in the lead-up, to teach not only the skills of fast rolling bunch riding, the key to handicap racing, but the knowledge and confidence to give it a go.
Skills sessions brought to you by Will Howard from Kilowatt Cycle Coaching.
4 Macedon-based sessions: 1 Dec, 15 Dec, 12 Jan, 2 Feb. Free and open to all riders (local riders a priority)
2 Melbourne-based sessions: 18 Jan (for triathletes), 1 Feb. $10 per session for non-HCC members (free to HCC members)
Check Entryboss for details: https://entryboss.cc/calendar/hcc
How does a handicap work?
Everyone, from novice to elite, races the same course. Slower riders start first, followed by progressively faster riders. First over the line wins. Riders are in small bunches which have to work together to chase those in front and stay ahead of those chasing from behind. It’s teamwork in action. And hard work all the way. See ‘link to handicaps FAQ document’
Check this website for updates. Updates will also be posted on HCC Facebook and other social media, and especially SheRace Facebook page.
Not sure you want to race but would like to help?
Perhaps you have family members itching to be part of the action?
The race relies on a team of volunteers. If you can help on the day (eg corner marshal), with pre-race publicity or organisation, please get in touch.
If you are a potential sponsor, we’d love to hear from you.