The Cycling Australia Road Nationals event is quickly becoming a must on any self respecting cyclist's calendar. Standing on the side of Mount Buninyong Road during the road race you get pretty close to the experience of standing on the side of a climb in the Tour de France... to make it even better though, the riders keep coming around and around.
And even better than that you can take the opportunity to ride the Gran Fondo on closed roads and experience what it's like for yourself... combine this with five days of cracking racing and riding and you're getting pretty close to a dream cycling adventure.
CYCLING AUSTRALIA ROAD NATIONALS GRAN FONDO
The Gran Fondo is a great opportunity to test yourself on challenging roads around the town of Buninyong and really compare your own power against your friends as well as the pros. The ride takes in the exact same 10.3km course that the main race covers the following day, and depending on your age group, you'll get the pleasure (and pain) of 5 to 7 laps.
This is one of those great opportunities to get out on closed roads and just worry about the riding. No cars or trucks... plenty of people around and the chance to push yourself at whatever level you are at... young, old... or somewhere in between. It's great for new riders to learn some tricks and for those super fit out there to test themselves against each other... and for everyone to enjoy the stories and and coffee or drink afterwards when you're shouting at the pros as the push themselves to the limit.
If you've watched the road race on TV it's time to get up off the couch and make your way to Ballarat for this one. The course has been chosen for a reason... it has the ability to separate the strongest from the strong, all in a 10.3km lap. The main climb might not look too bad on television, but let me tell you, when you get out there, you'll feel your legs. Even better, when you're coming around for your fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh repeat you'll feel them even more. The climb touches around 10% and lifts you about 160m in 3km. Very nice.
Once you're over the top there's little respite as you push up and down over nice undulations before focusing for a ripping descent.... then before you know it, your back for another climb. Good times.
There's closed roads, a limited field, age categories, official timing, mechanical support, marshalls, medical, BBQ, and access to a VIP shuttle around the full course on the following day for the Elite Men's and Women's Road Race.
It's going to be a great start to 2017.
7 January 2017, De Soza Park, Warrenheip Street, Buningyoung - Find out more at www.cagranfondo.com
The major drawcard of this event for me is the ability to not just get some some great riding in across 5 days, but to watch some brilliant racing at the same time. There's a pile of events to watch from the Wednesday crits, Thursday ITT through to the road races on Saturday and Sunday.
While your out exploring the Ballarat area on your bike, you'll probably find yourself sharing the road with some of the biggest names in the business. I love that there's the opportunity to do this in cycling, it's pretty tough to get a chance to share a racetrack with an F1 driver... but there's every chance you'll be rolling around and some of the best riders in the world sharing the road with you. Brilliant.
Check out the full event schedule HERE
There's some great accommodation in and around Ballarat, I stayed further out in Daylesford one year with the family and made the trip in. Staying in Ballarat keeps you close to the action. Check out Visit Ballarat for options.
One of our favourites at the top end of the spectrum is Ballarat Premier Apartments, if your after a bit of luxury after a hard day riding and cheering they are a great place to start. We also like the look of The Provincial Ballarat that has all you need in one spot, also just outside Ballarat check out the RACV Goldfields Resort, it's in between Ballarat and Daylesford and has some great riding on its doorstep.
I'm excited about the RoadNats in 2017, and riding the course on closed roads is an opportunity that does not come along too regularly, when combined with some brilliant racing I'll need a pretty good reason to stay away.