Pemberton – lessons not learnt. A crit course that has a 26m climb in every lap and attracts young whippet climbers is a bad idea. Yet, knowing all this here we were again, the eve before a road race that will have us up against a bunch of smarter guys that left the crits aside. Again. Up and down, up and down, up and down, like a 2 year old you’re trying to get settled to sleep …… you get the idea. And the pub is at the top of the hill, by the way.
Crit time and SPR Base Camp was established. Only a few hardy Green souls set out for the challenge.
D Men with Dean Fehlberg was first up. The group split over a few laps with Deano holding court at the front for most laps passing the start finish – the man knows a photo opp. When it came to the final, painful, slow motion sprint, Deano held off all comers and took the prize!
C Men was a different field this year, with the under agers in their own category, saving a the legs of the older blokes. Unlike previous years there was a panicked grab of brakes through the fast downhill corner every lap. Historically there has been a panicked clenching of bum cheeks, as too much speed pushed wheels out to the gutter. And grass. And sometimes even into the row of rosebushes at number 48. A sedate, “masters” approach was engaged and saw more squeezing brake lever than pelvic floor muscles. A few non-attacks brightened things up, but the group was almost entirely together at the bell lap.
Mo and the Greens awaited bedlam at the final run at the downhill corner, expecting Crash-Bandicoot style lines to be taken, but nothing. Mo pulled a tight line, rolled up the inside with ease (pro tip – get off the brakes.!!! OK not such a pro tip) and managed to accidentally attack. Too far out. Waaay too far. Well, we’re here now. And so off we went with everything that was left after 10 painful laps – which was not a lot. Accepting fate Mo, was swamped half way up the final climb, and then had time for a little chit-chat with Jedsman over the last 100m. It was a fun little hit and proved there was some power to be had in those chicken legs.
Sadly, post race, Mo’s bike was knocked over at the SPR tent and smashed up the left shifter. Not noticed until the following morning at warm up, there was no more big chain ring for Race day. Beware the careless <insert other clubname> riders that knock things over and just ride away. Hmmmmmmmmm.
Women’s B grade had Jonelle Ainsworth starting, but had a DNF today. This course….!
Men’s B grade and we saw a sign of the impending end of the world – Bonner v1.0 showing a pain face. True story – this actually happened. He IS human. The group fractured several times through the race, with Italian Stallion Carnicelli and NowhereMan playing it coy. V1.0 wasn’t to finish with the Young Bucks of B today. Nor was Thorman, who spent too much time fronting the bunch and slipped away for an early shandy. Approaching the bell lap on the penultimate climb, The Stallion appeared around the uphill corner, screaming up at speed. Could he hold? This was a course for a hot climber, after all. Cresting the start/finish there were 2 off the front, but by the decent NowhereMan was somewhere – and somewhere happened to be first through the apex. Full Gas around the back straight, NowhereMan held the chasing bunch away, but in a mad chase he was just caught on the line, fading at the end of a loooooooong kick. A thrilling finish, netting silver for NowhereMan.
A women, and another new face (and I am assured short-lived) with Bex joining the A ranks for a hit. Time/distance and a smaller field was the panacea for dipping those Irish toes in higher grade. Joining were Olesya (FromRussiaWithLove) and Bonner v2.0. It was V2.0 that took the lead and stayed put – if The Librarian ever ignored any message from the crowd it had to be “Get Off The Front”. V2.0 also missed the memo. V2.0 plugged away, The Collective Youth, FRWL and Bex in tow, but none of the Green crew were able to hold on through the final lap. And so it was Green that tailed off the bunch. For the record, a return to B Grade may beckon when returning to race courses for Bex, but Mo be mighty proud of Mrs. Yes, he be.
A blokes didn’t have a Greenie to boast of, but did have Elar – the BossMan – for Dome. Not so bossy today though. However, when in doubt, you can bet another Wiggins probably wins. And he did.
Post-crit it was time to retire to the pub for rehydration and carbo loading – Fish and Chips and a beer. Chatting with Jedsman and Suzanne (Mrs Jeds) over a well-deserved pint was just the medicine for hilly crit legs. Aaaaaaand sleep.
It was a warmer start to RR day than last year. More like “hot-water-running-out-mid-shower” than “ice-bath”. Previous years have started under 10deg. With a mere 150m between the warm cocoon of bed and a start line pointed straight at Pump Hill Rd, we rose, inhaled another Emma Pooley Banoffee Pie breakfast, and got to tent-set-up-mode again. The course is familiar, flowing out of town, up the hill and rolling through rural fields of vineyards, orchards and animal paddocks. Literally 1 min from the start line is a 10% incline. And with it, the start of attacking racing. If you’re not warmed up, you’ll have a nice quiet solo ride through the countryside from here after.
C Men had an even number of SPR to MCC in the start list. AfterBurner corralling the troops, Ross The Solo Man (bring back that wiiild hair!), Ralpha, Stalker, Deano, Jedsman and Mo. With one chain ring (it’s still raw). The bunch maintained an order through the first Pump Hill climb, however it appears the fixie riders of the world know nothing, and the “one gear to rule them all” mantra is absolute rubbish. Accelerating over the crest, Mo was already spun out and resigned to chasing.
At the close of the 1st lap approaching town, there had been a touch of wheels resulting in 2 down, and one very broken bike frame – the FB pic of the bike is awful. The group split, accelerated through the start finish and that was day done for a few more. Another lap and a wild attack came from Rosco, The Solo Man (was there ever a more appropriate nick name) with 8km to go. With a lead of hundreds of metres on the approach to the final corner at 3km, there was a big delay in the chase starting. As it happened, The Solo Man was caught on the descent to town and a mad sprint to the final corner saw the bikkies go elsewhere.
Men’s B grade was quite the mixed bag – young, experienced and in between having a crack. Rolling out was Bonner v1.0, The Italian Stallion, NowhereMan, Team Columbia and Thorman in Dome. Not a lot of info from out on the road, sadly. However, the approach to the final corner and into the short finish straight, it was Thorman rolling through in the first 3, with NowhereMan in there. But it was Team Columbia that kicked, with a clean line through the inside of the turn and up the left he nabbed a second on the line, Thorman holding for 3rd. The top 21 finished within 10 seconds. And a handy 10th went to Ol’ Mate, Stu Passmore. After wrangling the Passmore/Albany CC team, he was also our pub room neighbour, and a terrible guest to be stuck next to ……… just kidding. Nice work Stu.
Womens C had Jonelle out again, and taking a 3rd place from a larger field than last nights’ crit.
Womens A (Bias alert) and Em Mascaro was in town. FRWL, V2.0 and Bex lined up (SPR Green, anyone?!?!?!?) and up Pump Hill they went. The group split early on the second run up The Hill and saw Mascaro, FRWL and v2.0 get away from the few others. Bex settled in with a smaller group and worked to maintain some speed with some young (much younger.. sorry Hun, but it’s true!) hitters. FRWL broke clear and sprinted to the line
marginally behind Mascaro with a 2-minute gap to 3 and 4. Bex came home less than 9:30 mins later in her first (and possibly last for a while!!) A grade race. Proud, humbled and VOCAL!!! Great work Rebecca! The podium would host Emily Mascaro, FRWL and V2.0 for 1-3. Really strong riding, Chix!! For the A grade women of SPR, there is a succession plan in progress, it would seem.
A grade men had a series of breaks, short attacks and three laps of speeeeed. For SPR we would see Dome clad Elar for 12th and a Velofit Threshold Merchant take 18th. Both the Crit and the RR had Mr National Champ Freiby featuring, racing with “The Jersey” for Sunday’s Road Race. It’s quite gratifying getting passed at speed by our National Champ…..
At the Presentation Ceremony, there was a tinge of sadness in proceedings. After a near miss last year and tough year this time around, the Pemberton Classic Committee told us this would be their last year staging the event in its’ current format. A combination of time and logistical difficulties have meant the local crew do not see the current format as sustainable. As Super Commissaire Ken said as the presentations: “Take how many hours you THINK organising an event like this takes, and then multiply by ten”. I can absolutely relate, and (warning – biased opinion piece coming here) the support that is expected, paid for and due doesn’t always amount to actual support outcomes.
This event should NOT be allowed to slink away and disappear. As a Club we need to get behind them. What the Pemberton team have been able to do under extremely tough circumstances is extraordinary. They have the third highest prize pool of any race in WA. THIRD!!! That comes from contributions from almost ALL of the local businesses (the presentations prove this, with just about every shop front in town named as a prize donator) and a series of local families offering up prize sponsorship. How is that for Community support? Let me answer that – the Community support is awesome.
Just remember that the next time a call goes out to assist with pitching a Club tent, or requesting volunteer time.
This weekend is the final round of The Ring Criterium Series, staged at Northbridge. The action starts at 12:30 – bring your cowbells and get cheering for a big group of Green racing.