Virgin blogger so be gentle!
The week before the race I attempted the Fast group ride which ended in my sorry ass getting towed home by Jordan 20km from the finish. I knew though that C Grade wouldnt be rolling through at 50kmph so my legs got a feeling of some real pain as a warm up for the Goldenspokes but still its not good for the morale to be dropped!
When I arrived on race day I felt calm the nerves had gone so I just set about getting my numbers on and arranging with Mark H to drive my ute as a follow car. Ive made the mistake before of not being warmed up properly so set off 45mins beforehand using the cyclepaths and having a quick look at the last 2 corners.
We lined up ready for the start, it was clear to see the size of the field 40-50 riders and most being SPR. There had been talk of setting a high pace from the start to stretch it out for safety. So after the neutral section it was a real fight for position and straight into the 40’s. The front was being controlled by SPR when a South West Jaffa went up the road to warm his legs so I just sat on his wheel and wasnt long til we were back in the peleton. It was evident that although we had the numbers there was some strong riders here from other clubs that werent going to hide away.
The pace stayed high and on the 2nd lap some half hearted attacks went to no avail. Jordan and co were keeping control of the race and we discussed setting up a break away with Luke and I. The way the race was going I couldnt see a break staying out with the strong winds and the high pace plus I was feeling it, staying so close to the front. I decided to sit in to rest up a little then I saw Jen go to the front and raise the pace with some non SPR guys and I could see cracks appearing throughout the peleton, every rider was searching for some protection from the winds. With the pace really kicking out of the corners a 2 man break formed up the road, this one made a gap and seemed serious. I made my way to the front and Mark E was holding a nice pace with plenty of SPR support they told me 1 of the guys was an SPR rider(Ben) so we eased off the gas a little.
I sat at the front when a rider in blue took control he brought the pace up then slowed it down and suddenly jumped hard off the front, I tagged onto his wheel with Jen shouting encouragment when another non spr rider jumped across. I didnt want to do any work as I felt a 50/50 chance in the break was better and with 30km to go the peleton would pull us in but these guys were serious and really worked hard, when I saw we were going to catch Ben’s break I joined in working hard to catch them.
Then there were 5. Straight away I could see Ben’s break away partner was strong but we werent really working well together and I could see the peleton closing. Then we started talking and a mini TTT ensued. We all gave our fair share especially Ben who never missed a turn. By this stage my legs were feeling sore and I had to start to dig deep, my mind got a little negative but then I heard the bell ring and everything changed. One more lap! We lifted the tempo again I could see everyone straining, rain soaked we pushed on the last time into the back straight. After my turn I went to the back and looked over my shoulder(nearly losing control in the process) it was clear if we kept this pace we wouldnt be caught.
Then my mind thought of the sprint, those last 2 corners, I pictured the 30 plus SPR riders back in the bunch that had helped us get away and needed us to pull out the victory. I looked at Ben too tired to talk we knew the pace was too high for an effort of the front. Slowly riders started to pull out of their turns on the front I knew I didnt want to be on the front coming out of the last corners. We went hard through the last bend and I was about 4th wheel sitting behind Ben. His orginal breakaway companion lifted the pace so I swung around Ben to get on his wheel, nothing else matters except beating this guy to the line. As I pulled alongside him the two of us wobbling toward the finish I thought I was going to roll him when my body just couldnt push that extra few watts he surged a bit more and I couldnt respond losing by a wheel or so! Pretty gutted I rolled to the end and congratalated him we spoke to the other riders to say good work in the break.
Ben had taken 4th and it was only a few seconds later that Jen and some other SPR riders flew over the line before the main bunch rolled in.It was dissapointing that we didnt make our numbers count but I look at Gilbert beating the Schlecks in Liege he was just the stronger rider
All in all it was a great race and I really enjoyed it, this is why I joined SPR and I learn so much from every race and every group ride. I just want to thank everybody for making the day so successful we all how much Peter does and also Josh seemed to have everything run very professionally and smoothly. The only thing we need to work on next year is getting more women to race so they can have their own race and podium.
The guy who won was Shaun and rides with the fast Thurs morning ride seemed like a decent bloke and deserved the win. It was good to hear stories from other SPR members of their version of events. Also for those who dont know me Im the Irish guy on the Trek.
Well done to everybody for racing and now I will attempt to follow the footsteps of Carlos, Toby’s etc, into B grade as long as the road stays somewhat flat!