This race has always intrigued me and the original plan this year was to ride Kurrajong, that is until the Husky got washed out and rescheduled to the same day, and after all, my loyalties are to the MTB. But with the whole state getting a thorough soaking just two weeks out I knew the Husky would be a mud bath and I've had my share of credit card smashing repair bills. Added to that, Green P threw down the challenge after my shock victory on the virtual Alpe de'Huez. If you can do it on the trainer then why not in a real race?!
So it was I found myself nicely slotted into Div 3, 2 laps of a 33km loop featuring a 80kph descent followed by a nice little climb and then nothing but winding, rolling country roads.
Upon arriving I found some massuers setup for free pre-ride massages and as the legs were a little tight and the back not too good, I took the opportunity. Caitlin from Twitch Remedial was awesome and she gives a good massage too ;)
Even the weather was holding so it was with a few nerves that we rolled out at 11am. It was all pretty civilised from the start with none of the agro I had experienced at the Waratahs earlier in the year, who said roadies were a rude, arrogant bunch? It was a competitive bunch of good riders all jostling for position and keeping the tempo up but still time for a friendly bit of banter. I held my spot in the middle of the bunch on the descent and then steadily worked my way up the climb to stay in touch with the leaders, as I turned onto the flat and looked back I realised I was the last rider of the lead bunch and I was quite happy to sit there (with Peter and Andrew) and recover and watch what was happening up front. Meanwhile Julian, Zac, Todd and Mike C had put down the hammer and were hot on the heels of the leaders. A couple of times I moved up the outside just to see how it felt and then slotted into the middle of the bunch. No attacks came and it was a joy to be spinning along at 40+kph just focussing on the riders in front occasionally taking in the gorgeous scenery.
On the last turn onto East Kurrajong Road there was a bit of an effort, but most riders expected this and were ready to accelerate to keep the bunch together. Andrew came into play at the end of the lap to claim some imaginary sprint points and I followed as casually as I could to cross in 4th and set the pace as Andrew continued to accelerate with one other rider and try and make a break. Alas by the time we got to the descent we'd caught them again and it was time to test the legs on the climb but not before a heavy shower cooled us all down on the now slippery descent. This time was a little harder as the frontrunners battled for the KOM and I had to light a few matches to hold on to the bunch hitting my max HR, but again there was no attack over the rise and the bunch seemed content to stick together. Looking forward I could see Julian was on the front again, so I moved up with him to give him some help and quickly found myself on the front, wow what a moment for a misplaced mountain biker! I stayed there for a while just tapping out a steady 85% then gradually sat up and found a good spot back about 10 wheels or so. From there I could keep an eye on any breaks and it was Peter who gave it a good rev a couple of times but each time the leaders responded to bring him back in.
With 5km to go Julian was back on the front with Zac, and the rest of us weren't too far back. The bunch were getting edgy as everyone jostled for position and the pace steadily rose. With 2km to go a stream of oncoming traffic came through preventing anyone from moving to the front which was now riding 4 a breast. Finally with 500m to go the race to the finish started and Andrew was in a great position. I was 10 or 15 wheels back on the far right with nowhere to go till about 100m to go I saw Mike and Julian get cut off to my left and a big gap opened up in front of me, I put my head down and pedalled hard getting a great slingshot through to the finish just pipping 3 other Peloton riders to sneak into 5th (sorry boys!) This was a really fun event, the bunch were relaxed yet competitive with no real incidents, the course and weather were wonderful, just one little downpour on the decent was enough to keep it interesting. The climb was hard but not too long so you could bury yourself and recover on the back of the bunch, you just needed to keep in touch. The rolling road everywhere else was great to ride, big ring all the way. Unlike MTB races, the preso was on 5 mins after the finish and then I still got home in time to do the ironing and vacuuming, what a bonus, ride and score brownie points all on the same day! Thanks for a great days guys!