Wednesday, 18 November 2009

NC: Hell of the West '09

Just the name of the race makes me want to race it! After being rescheduled from earlier in the year, we had our very own spring classic, in 30+ degree heat. They'd knocked a few kms off the starting point so we could get organised near the Mt Wallace school/hall. Crit season is well underway for the summer so the numbers were down. The standard handicapping system was changed into grades chasing grades with a few minute intervals. Our bunch (A grade) had around 8-9 riders, B grade a few more, with the biggest group being C.

The first 20kms or so were downhill with a nice tail wind. Nothing to be made up here on the bunches up the road with those conditions. We all rolled good turns, but nothing too hard. Back into the wind through Balliang the pace backed off - right where it mattered! People were rolling through for hard turns but as soon as you were off the front the pace was a little too easy. I was thinking of getting Jake and a few others to work with me to escape from the bunch and work shorter harder turns - but that may have upset a few of them enough to chase us down. We only just spotted B grade at the turn towards Rowsley at the 48km mark. Over the rolling hills towards 'the wall' we caught them napping, they weren't too organised and were happy to sit on A grade as we swung past.

4-5kms out we could see the final climb, and a few small bunches already on it, so we were out of a shot at the overall. If we had we caught and worked with B grade back into the wind from km 20 we would have been in for a shot. 3kms out B grade still sitting on not helping the cause to get to the line. I sat back with the B graders as A graders Welsh, Elliot, and Sutherland were working turns. I tried to pull a sneaky and let those three escape off the front, giving team mate Welsh a shot against the other two... but B grade were happy to keep coming around me and close any gap. At the base of the climb Welsh set the pace, soon to be rolled by Elliot who upped the hurt again. 200m later it was Sutherland leading the charge to the top, with Elliot and me in tow. Sutherland slowly clawed away from Elliot and me, and I was soon losing touch with Elliot. I pegged him at about 10m and held it to the final few meters - where I tried to catch him napping to the line - I put out everything to the line and only missed it by 1/2 a wheel. If it wasn't for the road side cheer squad telling him I was coming I would have snaked him on the line for 2nd in A grade. Next time Elliot! Next time! :)

The overall winner was super-lightweight rider Stephanie McGrath who rode away from the C grade bunch before the road even kicked up!

Pain pictures here: Von's Photos

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