Sunday, 19 October 2008

Mansfield to Mt Buller - Herald Sun Tour Support Race 16/10/2008

Warm weather and not a cloud in sight, a perfect day for racing to the top of Mt Buller last Thursday. 20 or so riders in the A grade event run by the Southern Vets cycling club. The plan was to race to the top, grab some food, then watch the pro's roll in for the finish stage 4 of the Herald Sun Tour. As always, I was hoping for a break away so we had a few minutes lead on the base of the climb. This would give the break a head start on the climb, with the option of backing right off for a short time if any climbers bridged and started putting on the pressure. I put the pressure on the bunch on a few of the rises and strung things out but there were a few big units in the bunch who closed things down every time. 3kms before the base of the climb I countered one solid move after chasing it down, but again it was back together within one km or so.

So at the base of the climb it was grupo compacto. I knew my power numbers so tapped out a pace on the front that put a few riders in trouble. Mark Zander (Northcote CC) was shadowing me all day, he is a friendly wheel so it was good to have company. I called him through a few times to set the climbing tempo. Within 10 minutes we were down to six riders. The only other rider I knew was Mark, so I had to read the other riders by their position in the group and how they were looking and responding to slight variations in the pace. 20 minutes into Buller and the six of us were still together. I put in a few surges on the front but had to restrain myself from any all out attacks as we were less than half way into the ascent. By now, a few of the riders in the group were showing signs of being in trouble. I knew Buller kicks up in a nasty way in the last two kms, and I decided to back myself in a sprint to the line. Can't be any different to kicking to the top of Burgandy St which has always been good to me in training.

5kms to go and Mark Zander was off the back but still within reach. I stepped up the tempo on the front to see if anyone else was going to pop, one more down. We were now down to four riders: Aaron Field, Ray Jarrett, Roy Clarke, and me. Tapping out a hotter tempo into 3kms to go I swung my elbow to call Roy though to the front. He refused and told me "I don't have to do it, mate". Yep, no worries, I respected that. We were at the business end of the race and it was every man for himself. The gradient was getting harder so there wasn't much benefit from sitting on anyway. 1.5kms to go and Ray "The Mullet" Jarrett kicked hard. We all scrambled on his wheel. I'm a big fan of Ray, he's a top bloke who has some impressive results in his masters division, not to mention his world class mullet! Ray was riding well all day and I was happy to have him in the front group up the climb. Ray's kick had dislodged Aaron Field, so we were down to three. The final 500m was a scramble to the top. 50m to go and Roy got a great jump at the corner with Ray on his tail. I had enough room to get up and around Ray for 2nd place while Roy took the win by two or three bike lengths.

Racing done for the day, we all shared our race stories with each other and watched the other support grades roll across the line. Andy McGrath soloing the entire climb to take 1st place in C grade. After watching the Pro's come in and having a chat to Jono Lovelock (Aus/Virgin team) we bombed the descent and were motor paced back into Mansfield for the last 15kms by our race commissionaire in his Range Rover - lights flashing and road conditions being called over the loud speaker. I tucked onto the bumper, Andy on my wheel, and a handful of others on for the ride too. A perfect end to a great day on the bike!

Official A grade results:

1st Roy Clarke, Eastern
2nd Shane Miller, Haw
3rd Ray Jarrett, Cobram
4th Aaron Field, Blackburn
5th Mark Zander, N'Cote
6th Justin Mollison, Bendigo
7th Guy Green, Eastern
8th Kurt Jensen, SVCC
9th Peter Campbell, SVCC
10th Dean Heathcote, SKCC


Groover said...

Very inspiring race report. Congrats on the podium spot. You must be looking forward to Bright.

P.S. The Presets are indeed good climbing music. Thanks for the tip.

Jay Woo said...

Good to see the old guard was out in force at the pointy end!