At the start of the week found out through John Gilbertson, that a few of the boys were getting together for Dardanup B grade. Word was that we were to be called “Team Lycra Grey Edge”. I found this quite amusing as I am barely over thirty (ghost writers note: but he is sporting a very attractive salt and pepper goatie, or the “vintage look” as he likes to call it).
So the 5 of us (John G, Stuart Gee, Simon, Matt Seale and myself) found ourselves after a short 2hour drive at Dardanup. The weather was nice for a change which was great as I do not have fond memories of Dardanup. Last year I had a puncture half way through the race and the year before I got smashed in C grade. But this year it was different. I’ve been training hard and I have (I hope) better legs…and I’m not talking about hairiness. Plus I have more race experience.
Before the race Stuart Gee got us all together and put the race plan to us. In his opinion the race was going to come down to a sprint finish. So we elected our strongest sprinter. Happily the boys thought that was me. The thought of having these four strong riders all riding for me felt like a huge responsibility, but of course I said yes. I would do it for Team Lycra Grey Edge!
Now the race. At the start line it was obvious that there was a pretty bad cross wind. Oh joy. The game plan was for TLGE to set the pace and look after me. So far so good. Once the race started, John and Stuart were straight on the front setting the pace. Matty was riding on my left, protecting me from the cross wind. I was being well looked after.
I knew from last year that there were just a few “lumpy” bits before the turn-around point, but it was nothing that would shake the bunch. After the turn-around, well that was different. I knew there was a decent climb that would put a lot of people in the hurt box. Once we hit the climb Simon was on the front and set a really hard pace, with Matty and John right behind him. Being the sprinter and all, I was moving towards the back of the group and just hanging on. My heart rate was through the roof. Stuart came up to me to offer words of encouragement that went something like “Come on Carlos, you just need to get over this”. By the time we got over the climb half the group were gone. Thankfully there was a nice down hill section. The remaining bunch shared turns (with the Southwest and Bunbury boys doing their fair share) and we got over the remaining lumpy bits. I knew that once were were back on the flat, the wind was again going to become a major player. With 10km to go there were a series of attacks. Matty and Simon covered most of them. John and Stuart made sure that I never had to pull a turn. I think I maybe pulled 2-3 turns. It was a great feeling – I felt like a King. But knowing that my mates were burying themselves for me, I know I had to be smart in the sprint.
While the Southwest and Busselton boys had all pulled big attacks trying to get off the front, we were all together at the 5km mark and realised that it was going to come down to a sprint. At this point I was feeling really good. Probably the best I’ve ever felt towards the pointy end of a race. With 3kms to go Matty went off the front with another rider tailing him. This played into our hands very well as we did not have to get on the front anymore – it was everyone else that had to do the chasing. Matt managed to put a good 250m gap on the group so I thought he might manage to stay away and win the race. By the 1km mark the peleton had pulled him back to 50m. I had a quick word with John to see how he was feeling. He said that he did not have too much more in the tank. So I knew that the boys had pretty much used up everything to get me to this point. It was now up to me. With about 800m to go I was sitting third wheel and everyone had figured out SPR’s game plan (ie I was going to go for the sprint). I thought my best chance would be to attack now. If I left it later I thought I’d get rolled. I attacked. I managed to put 25m on the group. At 400m I had a look back and saw the peleton had split with 5 riders chasing hard. I knew I did not have the legs to make it to the finish so I eased up a bit and went with plan B. I managed to jump on the back of the 5 chasing. I knew I had little bit left. When we got to the 200m mark I went again and managed to get over the top of the fifth and fourth rider, and was gaining on the second rider but ran out of road. So there I was with my first podium in a road race (3rd), plus I got our team a 1:30 time bonus for the team time trial. The Busselton rider (Mal Hopkins), who won the race, got his team a 2:30 time bonus and the second place local rider (Mark Sadowski) got a 2 minute time bonus. Team Lycra Grey Edge was pretty happy with our result. I was ecstatic with how well we worked together as a team and how we followed the game plan.
TTT: After an hour and a half break (and some food of course) we set off for the TTT. We had some great horse power. Stuart and John are great time trialists. I know we had a good chance to make up the minute we had down on the Busselton team. The idea was to stay tight, talk to each other, no roll-throughs over the hills, and to set a manageable but painful pace – if that makes any sense? Again we were faced with the cross wind which had picked up since the road race. Everyone did their bit. Simon again set the pace on the hill, John pulled some massive turns, Stuart is just a diesel engine and kept us motoring the whole way and Matty (who has improved in leaps and bounds) was great when the cross winds were getting really bad and did a good job at marshalling everyone. At the end of the TT no one had anything left, we could not have pushed any harder, we left everything out on the road. The feeling after finishing was one of pain and excitement! The boys were pumped. We we knew we had done a terrific job. In the end we finished with a time that was 1 minute and 10 seconds faster than our rivals. This put me in first place, Matty in 3rd, and John in 5th overall. Such a great result for us. The Team Lycra Grey Edge boys gave me a win by a mere 10 seconds. And it felt amazing.
When it came to trophy presentations the Southwest Cycle Club provided all the food and drinks we needed to recover. I especially liked the cake J. The whole day was well organised and I really enjoyed the format. A big thank you to Team Lycra Grey Edge, it made me realise how much fun it can be racing in a team and the camaraderie certainly beats racing as an individual. That, for me, was the highlight….oh and I now have a golden gnome on my mantle piece…!