Weather forecasts and predictions varied – from poor weather just missing our course, to full blown Armageddon. Both would be correct, as it turned out. A little late, but here they are.
These are the stories from INSIDE the peloton:
*All photos – Paul George
Faye Daglish-Jones – Pre-Race Prep Time
I had the fantastic opportunity to join the volunteer convoy to the race with the wonderful SPR volunteers… all thanks to me….. volunteering my hubby.
The convoy kicked off at 7am from Mundaring Dome. The drive to and ‘on the race’ course was incredibly picturesque, soft rolling hills and green, yes green, (SPR green) everywhere. Maybe that was an omen for what was to come (with SPR taking first place on the leaderboard for the Element Road series! Yay) There was also an off road’ detour (thanks to the VP) that made me wish I’d packed the CX bike.
Quick stop to drop off water supplies (last year Beverley was around the 40 degrees) just to keep this event interesting (& heroic) this year we were going to be swimming in it.
With destination Beverley reached, the hive of activity was just ramping up, starting with the “Mo’s” ride briefing – expertly delivered, made even more impressive by the fact that he had yet to have his first morning coffee !
With thunder clouds building, it was time to get ‘race’ ready. Luckily for me the SPR race registration team lead by Tracey (with help from hubby – guess he was listening to the Mo’s briefing !) was ready for their first customers. So before I had a chance to ponder “did I pack enough wet weather gear” I was through the registration process and ready for the adventure that lay ahead.
The Limit group started bang on 11:00 with our own Debbie, Faye and Liz departing to rapturous applause. And the groups continued at their handicap times. Some looking more promising than others. The Smart Money was on Scratch catching the Limit markers and storming home clear …..
The outbound leg was into a heavy headwind and squalls of rain and past the turnaround there were three bigger groups formed. The lead group made up of the 20-30 odd minute starters, the teens starters behind them, and a growing Scratch group charging hard. So many SPR jerseys were in there.
Bryan “Poodle” Thurstan – On the start line, outward bound
Weather forecasters! What would they know? Rain, storms, headwinds predicted! Not today, the sun is shining & the air is filled with the scent of malted barley & stinky canola. For the next 115km.
The Green Team SPRouleurs arrived in their droves. The limit groups set out with a 45 minute lead, followed soon after by the SPR Chix. Things started looking serious with the 29 minute D group, Shelby & Sam with game face on, Poods looking arrogant, Hanson surly, and Ash just bewildered. The usual game plan: Put on a bit of hurt on the way out into the first headwind climb, sort out the workers from the wheel suckers, like sorting the wheat from the chaff. Some days you are the wheat, some days you are the chaff.
The plan worked, with the D group quickly thinning to a dozen riders, grinding out the miles into a headwind, reeling in all the leaders. The early starters & the SPR Chix were all caught. Jump on board, grab a wheel, but don’t do any work! 40km in and there was just one rider left up the road with a 2 minute lead.
The C group caught up, swelling the lead bunch to 40 riders. Time to hitch on to the freight train & listen to the commissaire blow his horn at us. The 57km turning mark closed in, sharp turn, time for full gas with a tail wind home!
Ali Ramm had taken a turn on the front of the second group on the road, and quite literally blew the group to pieces. Scratch group swelled and kept gaining ground, but somewhere around the 95km mark, Scratch sat up and the work rate suffered. Little did the leaders on the road know, but for them it was ON!
There was a small lead group that crested the final rise of Lenards Rd Hill together. As they passed #Ramon it looked like there was just enough for the small group to stay clear. But who was there?!?!
David Menarry – Approaching the Turnaround, and it’s Getting’ Real
We quickly caught our minute group and recruited Jon Hanson and a few others to the cause, including the eventual men’s and women’s winners. From that point onwards it was just a question of how soon we would reel in the other groups in front of us. We managed that by about 10km from the turnaround point. The pressure was on to stay at the front … but wait … it turns out there was a solo leader another 2.5 minutes ahead of us!
With the wind behind us we really started to increase the pace. We did catch and overtake the solo leader quite quickly though. And then the downpour started, soaking everyone to the bone and slowing us up. I was getting worried about the faster groups catching us but couldn’t contribute as much as I wanted to: I knew we had nearly 50km to go and we needed to race within our capability.
With about 30km to go a few of the faster riders started trying to split the group, unfortunately again without much success. This took its toll and we seemed to slow again. At this point Ali Ramm picked up the gauntlet and pulled the group along for several extended spells. As the kilometres passed by our group thinned out and with about 5km to go there were probably only 20 of us left when we saw a hill ahead.
“Surely this is the last climb?” came the shout from someone in the bunch. I wasn’t convinced and it turns out that it was just the entrée to another longer climb with 3km to go. I was feeling confident but nervous about the fast groups catching us. I started planning how I would play the finish. And then I was boxed in going up the climb. Not the legs. Not the heart rate. Just poor race craft.
By the time I got free there were 11 riders about 200m ahead of me. One thing I know how to do is time trial back on, and I got within 20m of the group before they kicked on again and I was gone. I used one back marker as my target on the 2km downhill stretch to the finish as the group pulled away. I went flying past him but unfortunately he was able to jump in my slipstream and use me to get to the finish.
The challenge was on and I wasn’t confident I had the energy left to win a one vs one sprint, so I put the power down and went for the long finish. I just couldn’t shake him but despite a dodgy moment when I rode through some gravel on the side of the road, I managed to just stay ahead.
50m to go and he went for his sprint. No way was I giving this one up and I put in my last effort, beating him to 11th place by half a wheel length and first in green and white (though not the first SPR member).
While I’m very happy with how I went overall (I could only have dreamed of 11th at the start) I can’t help but feel disappointed with what might have been. The fast group didn’t catch us and I felt great at the finish. Bring on The Beverley 2019!!
WITHOUT BIAS. OK, maybe a bit.
The sprint was tight, but the winner clear – Des Smith from MCC took the win, Matthew Pollard second, Owen Henderson third, Antony Smithson fourth and Thomas Graham fifth. Liz Burrows finished as first Woman, and Fastest Time went to Craig Wiggins.
Three moustache’s in the top 5. True Story.
There were some real notables from SPR’s contingent were Phil Stevens – giant killer of a handicap racer, but no green! – in 6th, David Menarry 11th for first SPR Green kit to finish, Poodle in 17th (true story!), Ali “Battering” Ramm with a ride and a half, and (with much bias) Rebecca Kelly beating all previous race “bests”. Love your work Hun.
As el Prez blogged recently, at the end of The Beverley, SPR took The Element Series Club Championship, and we celebrate two Element Series Grade Champions in Kirstie Moore for Womens’s B grade, and Tomasz Wolczyk in Men’s B grade, as well as a few 2nd and 3rd places. Not a bad years’ racing.
Thanks to everyone that contributed on the day, and especially those that raced. The pictures really do tell a story. Mo out.