Monday, November 28, 2011

THE LAST RIDER - by Steph Hanlon

Being chosen to be the last rider for an amazing team was an honour and a privilege.

After months of fundraising, working hard, organising, getting sponsorships and training, for me it all came down to the final laps of the big race. Our team's goal was 350 laps and we were sitting at 344 with about 20 minutes to go.

Ali hopped out of the trike, I very quickly jumped in and the pit crew fitted the new camel pack into the trike. Slowly rolling through pit lane watching the other bikes zooming past, the adrenalin was building and the nerves disappeared. There was a clear break on the track and I went for it. This was the final chance to achieve our goal. It was the final chance for all teams to put in their best ride and oh my gosh was it fast!

There were some very close calls on the track. People were cutting corners and riding like there was no one else on the track. I had to ride like every lap was my last. I had just 20 minutes to seal our teams goal of 350 laps. I knew I could do it. After the second lap I could feel my muscles screaming but I just had to keep on pushing and pushing to fly past the bikes in front of me.

Each lap (1.3km) seemed linger and harder as we all rode faster and faster. When the official waved the checkered flag, I didn't know how many laps I had ridden. I had given all that I could give. I just hoped that it was enough.

After the lap of honour my team gathered around the trike and drowned me in water. They then proceeded to pick up and carry the trike with me in it back to pits!

It felt amazing to finish such a big race with such a great team supporting me every step of the way. WE DID IT with one lap to spare. 351 laps, in total 456.3 km. Cant wait till next year!!!

Thanks no only to the team, but to our wonderfully supportive teachers, Mrs Arci and Mr Ratcliffe. We couldn't have done it without them.

Steph Hanlon

Saturday, November 26, 2011


A video compilation of our time at the RACV EBT:

Day 3 - RACE DAY!

The morning of the race brought with it the ominous, black clouds that were sure to dampen our already excited spirits. The day has finally come! RACE DAY! All the hard-work, stress and effort all amount to this one day. Though, considering our previous luck, we sure did encounter problems even as we still ride now. Being approximately nine hours into this 24 hour race, the riders of each team shed blood sweat and tears in order to maximise the overall lap count.

The race began with every team lining up in starting positions at various points on the track. The front being the fastest and the back the slowest. Having those slight difficulties in the trial, both teams were positioned near the back. The anticipation was building up as the final minutes passed. Before we knew it the race was off and the fastest bikes had already zoomed passed. The first riders for the teams were Antoinette Moliterno for the Year 10 team and Ali Der for the Year 9 team. 

It is incredible to observe the strength and agility it takes to be a rider. The riders on both teams have showcased the talent that is involved with being a rider whether they are fit for it or not. There is no exaggeration when they say "endurance" race, because the key to success is to endure not only the ride but the harsh weather, cold nights, sleepless nights and aching muscles. The true test of endurance is being able to deal with all this yet retain a positive composure throughout the whole competition. 

This is easier said than done. At some points in the night, the pit tent was full of sleep-deprived girls who indefinitely had a short fuse. As the race continued and both teams gathered a steady pattern of action each time the trike came into pits. The time waiting was spent dancing, listening to music, chatting and organising the pit. The riders on the other hand took every opportunity to rejuvenate and rest. 

Being comfortable was a struggle for everyone with the cold, wet and wind affecting us especially in the late night and early morning. The girls were bundled with layers upon layers of blankets and jackets but the cold still found its way to terrorise us. 

Arci's Angels is currently performing amazingly. Their girls are fit and have been completing laps ranging from 2:50 minutes right up to 4 minutes. Considering that this is their first time at the EBT, they are currently placed 7th in the all-female division. 

The WIP is performing just as well however, there have been some setbacks with one of the riders having to stop riding because of a knee injury. Aside form that the girls have managed to brave it out and compete with one less rider. It has been challenging, however, because it  means that the remaining riders have shorter periods of rest before their next ride. 

With still a few more hours, every girl has been patient and willing to assist in anything that needs to be done. I think we all can't wait until are are back in our own beds away from the cold, but I think that we all want to finish the race first. GO TEAM WOOLWICH.

DAY 3 - Being A Rider

Being the senior of the Yr 10 team, it was my turn to start the race. The delay due to rain only made nerves run higher, but before I knew it we were 'speeding' round the track. Even though its been a year, it felt like only yesterday that we were pushing on the uphill and enjoying the breeze as we flew down the hill after crash corner. Despite the pouring rain, the competition proved to be rough and extremely fast. 
After a rather unsuccessful night trial, I started to doubt whether I was fit enough to ride as fast as I should, and even though we had changed the size of the front gear, it was still a tough slog, and difficult gain momentum. 
We each started with 5 or so laps, with our lap times being fairly consistent individually and as a group, generally between 3:30 and 4:00. The pressure amounted as we realised these speeds/lap times would not get us to our goal of 500 laps. Unfortunately by about 5:30pm we were down to just 6 riders, meaning we were in the trike much more frequently and exhausted very quickly. Legs were aching and knotting, so it was only lucky we had a couple of great masseuses amongst the team and the free physio service to try and relax our legs and moderately rejuvenate ourselves for each ride. 
We implemented a riding schedule at 10:30pm, which enabled our remaining riders to get some sleep. Our times remained at around 4 minutes.
At some stage during the night, Mr Ratcliffe thankfully noticed that the trike seemed to bounce as it passed along the front straight. During the next pit stop, we realised the back tire had been flat and was slowing us down the whole time. With a quick pump, we hit the track again this time with much faster speeds, for the same amount of effort being out in. There is still about four hours left... bring it on!

- Antoinette Moliterno 

DAY 3 - Riding the trike (year 9)

We woke up, to sunny weather and a nice breakfast cooked by Mr Ratcliffe. Then we prepared to move to pits, so we could start the race, but were flooded by the rain. Due to this the race was post-poned by an hour. By this point in time all of the riders were eager to get started so when the race finally started at 2:40 we were off to a good start.

Our first rider Ali, started of with 5 laps before returning to pits as the rain was fogging up the wind screen, due to lack of air. So we decided to take the canopy of to allow more air into the bike, this meant that it was fogging less, after a quick pit stop we were on the track again. As the race started late we were slightly behind schedule, but we recovered quickly, Steph making our fastest time so far of 2.50 min. Before we started our night shifts we came upon another problem, as the horn was no longer working, but we have decided to leave this for now until we can get a better look at it.

Then after this one of our tires blew and we had to change this as quickly as possible. Now at 11:00 pm we have just finished re-adjusting the chain, with the help of some of our neighbouring schools. As the entire mechanism fell apart. This took some time and we have only just started to regain our time, at the moment Courtney is in the bike, and things are looking quite well.

- Ali Der

DAY 2 - The Trial

It is a annual occurrence of the Energy Breakthrough to have a trial run on the track the day before the race. This is an opportunity for trikes to be tested in the conditions of the racetrack and to fix anything that goes wrong.

The rain had kept away and the trial run proved to beneficial for both teams because things did go wrong.

It was the first time on the Energy Breakthrough track and the girls finally got a feel for the various twists turns including the infamous 'crash corner'. As the name bluntly suggests, this deadly turn has caused many crashes and accidents since its beginning.

It was also the first time the girls had other teams riding alongside them. Some of the teams in the competition are prone to excessive overtaking at top speed, which in turn becomes detrimental to unsuspecting riders. The girls learned to adapt to such circumstances and at the same time enjoy their first time on the track.

Some problems encountered included the lack of smooth gear and chain motion for the year 10 team and the year 9s needed to be efficient in pit changes.

The trial was short but it was enough for each girl to have a taste of what was to come for the big race.

DAY 2 - Pictures 2

Friday, November 25, 2011

DAY 2 - Pictures

Working in the Tent
Arci's Angels

Relaxing after hard days work :)

DAY 1- The Arrival

It has been six hours since the MSCW teams arrival at the Jubilee Oval in Maryborough, Victoria. The experienced year 11s are all to familiar with the sight of the camping ground, the year 10s are eager to re-live the memories of the previous year and the newbie year 9s are experiencing the scent of tents and dried grass for the first time.

Our journey began at precisely 7:15 in the morning, with grumpy teenagers awake far too early for their liking (Jessie). For others, it was the beginning of four days that would bring excitement and challenge. The plane trip was over before we knew it, however, the two hour bus ride was yet to begin. 

After stopping in a small town of no consequence for lunch we continued the rest of the ride to Maryborough. Filled with music, hot chips, and sing-a-longs, the bus ride was finally over and a collective gasp sounded as we drove past tent city. 

The sun was scorching and girls were already nursing burns to their backs, arms and necks. The gruelling task of setting up tents was not ideal for most of the girls considering the heat. The tents were soon up after many trials and the repetition of "Where does this pole go?". 

Our tent was conveniently located beside not only Catholic College Bendigo but the boys of North Geelong. The girls are certainly pleased with this. Socialising, however, was going to wait because there were bikes to be refined. 

All us 30 girls, by now, had become considerably familiar with the surroundings and had made up our temporary homes that had to be able to endure the harsh, cold nights.

Registration brought us one step closer to the competition with the teams registered into their positions whether it was a rider, support crew or pitt crew.

The free time after registration had both the year 9 and 10 teams working on the finishing touches on the bike. All the girls worked together showing how they can get the job done.

The sun had ceased to burn skin and gave way to the breeze which slowly built up the cold weather of the night. Our first day was fun, full and we all can't wait for what the next few days will hold. Well, we do know it will be a rainy one but for those who are well-packed, it won't be a problem :)

DAY 2 - The Presentations

The competition has officially begun! The socializing and relaxing is over and the hard work begins now. The race itself hasn't kicked off, however, the crucial part of the competition takes place on this day. Yes, the actual race is important but in order to take part in the race, the trike has to be approved by the RACV officials in scrutineering. As well as this every team must take part in a presentation which is also judged by officials.

The trikes have to be near perfection to endure the critical eyes of the officials who assess every little facet of the bike to ensure it is safe and ready to be used on the track for the big race.

Considering the pressure to pass, both teams were frantic in their preparations to make their trikes passable to ride.

Year 9's 'Arci's Angels' seemed to have their trike under control. Calm, cool and ready under the guidance of Mrs. Arci, the year nine team were the first to take their trike to be approved.

Meanwhile, the year 10 countenance was slowly diminishing as 'The W.I.P' was far from being approved. There was so much still to do and the pressure and stress was amounting. The girls were frantically adding and adjusting, connecting and drilling so that they could make the scrutineering. On the brink of losing all hope, 'The W.I.P' team had no choice but to send their 'baby', as Bree would constantly coo, with the many flaws it had.

Lucky for 'The W.I.P', there was a long queue but for 'Arci's Angels' it was a long wait. The wait was over in no time and the girls' knowledge was put to the test when they were quizzed on what they knew about their trike. They proved themselves when they answered questions on safety, race flags and the construction of their trike. The critical officials, however, found flaws in the year 9 trike and they were denied approval until the trike was adjusted and improved.

The strict nature of the scrutineering and design and construction sessions are to ensure that all teams have built safe and suitable trikes that fill the criteria to be able to ride in the 24 hour endurance race. Though it is disheartening to be denied approval it is worth it to be safe while being in the trike.

So with the year 9s going back and making adjustments it was time for the year 10 team to face the judgement. Much to the shock of everyone on the team and Mr. Ratcliffe, who said "If we get approved I might just faint", 'The W.I.P' passed the testing with the girls performing flawlessly in front of the officials.

Eventually, the year 9 team passed testing and there was a collective sigh of relief because all teams were eligible to ride in the race. The hard work hadn't finished yet. There were still the presentations which would end the theory aspect of this competition.

The year 9s presented first followed by the year 10s shortly after. It was incredible to see the hard work pay off and the teams work together. Pleased with their efforts, yet tired from all the work there was finally some free time that was definitely over due.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Race to the Start!

It is often said that "time is of the essence". This statement could not have been more true to both the year nine and ten teams registered in the EnergyBreakthrough for this years competition in Maryborough, Victoria. It seems that the pre-compeition stress has peaked early this year with both teams racing to finish their bikes in time for the coming race on the 25th of November. The past couple weeks have been trying for the teams to weld, build, screw and paint their respective bikes within the short time frame.

After months of difficulties and challenges the bikes are now near completion. 'Arci's Angels' (Year Nine) and 'The Wip' (Year 10) have now come to life with the efforts of the girls and most importantly their teachers and mentors, Mrs Arci and Mr Ratcliffe.

There is still so much to be done in these few short days before taking off to Victoria, but the girls are all buzzing with the excitement of the coming four days and the trials and tribulations that are sure to come their way. The race to the start is not over yet but once it all starts, then thats when the real race begins.