I've always wanted to line up a trip back home with something on the Horsham Cycling Club calendar, this week it worked out. From their website I knew the registration point and start time. Rolling up to the location I was met by Nibbo, Jason Niblett's (AIS track rider) old man. He was running the show for the day and was more than happy to have me racing. Horsham have a great juniors program before the seniors racing, we watched as the kids took off for their few kms of pain on their little mtb's and bmx'es.
Our race was a 30km handicap, which was 10kms out the road two 5km loops, and 10kms home. As the unknown rider from Hawthorn, I was assigned scratch quick smart. There were two other scratch markers, two guys off 4mins and three or four off 9 mins. Not big numbers but everyone was keen to get into the action. We watched the out markers work turns up the road, then the group of two set out. 9 mins ticked over and we were still waiting for little Mark Kelly to roll up to the start (he'd decided to race after arriving at the start after playing footy and had shot home for his bike). 45 seconds later he was spotted and Nibbo yelled at him to keep rolling through and that would be the start of the scratch markers. Matthew (rides for Horsham, didn't catch is last name) was with us off scratch. I jumped on the front and made sure the two of them were on my wheel before cranking up the pace into the wind. Matthew was a U19 rider and Mark was U15.
TT mode for 2kms up the road I swung over and let Matthew take a turn. He swung through and kept his head down. Little Mark was spinning away and safely locked on my wheel. After the left turn into the wind I made sure I kept the boys out of the wind by sitting up the road, they were locked in and hurting. I pulled off the front a few times to make Matthew come through for a turn on the front while making sure Mark was still with us. They were both hurting but giving it their all. I kept up the encouragement and before long we could see a rider up the road. I got off the gas up the first rise and let them set the pace, jumping back on the front on the way down to give them a rest but making sure the pace was still ticking over. Rounding the left turn into Plush Hannans Rd and I'd gapped the two guys I sat up and waited. 1km up the road we had a few riders in sight. Onto lap two of the 5km loop and we picked up the 4 minute markers. I encouraged them to jump on but the pace was a little too hot.
Up the longest rise of the course for the final time and only Mark was on my wheel, we'd dropped Matthew by a few lengths so I encouraged Mark to have a rest on the downhill so we could work together for the homeward leg. 12kms from home we had the 9min group in our sights. Mark and Matthew still riding strong and Matthew pulling turns where he could. I made sure the boys could see the riders up the road and pointed out that we were riding twice as hard as they were. Matthew pulled a massive turn on the front and I reminded him that once we'd made the catch they could rest up for the final dig.
The catch was made around 7kms from home, the handicap was naturalised. I'd stuck in some 100% efforts in the last kms before the catch and I was stoked that the two boys were brought back up to the limit markers. I jumped on the front of the bunch and turned up the wattage not long after. I'd sat up the road all day so far so I stuck it in the gutter to make an honest effort of anyone on my wheel. The rubber band snapped shortly after so I took off at full speed. Full ITT mode all the way home I was greeted at the line by Nibbo and a few other supporters/mums/helpers on the sidelines. 1st place by around 2mins in the end, but I was keen to see how fellow my scratch markers went.
Mark Kelly's mum was on the finish line and I was quick to tell her about how tough her boy was! She was pleased to hear it. :) As the bunch came into view Matthew was leading out from a long way back with Mark on his wheel unable to spin any faster to come around him. Matthew second, Mark third, closely followed by Dave who put a fair amount of daylight between himself and the rest of the field.
After the race I had a chat to Mark and found out he was 13, and was with the WestVic Academy of Sport. He proceeded to tell me about his recent V02 testing performed at the University of Ballarat. He was excited that someone knew what a V02 test was and showed me his finger prick marks from the lactate testing they performed. I spent a few minutes talking to the guys and the mums while coffee, hot chocolate, and finger food was offered around. They all wanted to know when I'd be back home as they'd bring out their big guns to race me :) I awarded little Mark $5 from my $15 winnings for the 'ride of the day', his mum thanked me.
A great afternoon racing back home and I'll be on the start line again next time I'm back, hopefully when they're racing a crit around the go-cart track! Official Results Here (About the picture of the river, there is no water there these days!)