1st female, fastest female time, 5th overall, 1st female teams classification.
A race report from Kate Bonner. Over to you Kate. (Feature image: The Legend – Daniela Tomassi)
Race day. Excited. An hour and a half of sitting in the car with Ben. Not so excited. Arrived at Beverley Hall to see it entirely decked out with some of the coolest bikes, awesome, totally vintage cool. 22 mins from Scratch, sweet. Olesya, Darcie, Teneal and Annie, so much strength in this group. Ness, Bec, Ali, Kirstie and many other talented women within 7 minutes. Scanning the list for other familiar names… Hang on, how did Hanno get off at 34 mins! The cheek of it!
Race smart, not hard. We knew we were out for a tough day. Ladies agreement that we would use the first part of the ride to ‘warm up’, forming a paceline and taking even, steady turns along the rough as guts road. It wasn’t long until the 21 min group caught us. Toby, Ross, Tom, Chris… hell this is just like a Fast Too group. This. Is. Going. To. Hurt. “Up, up, up, up” we hear as the group has already swamped us, they had us sprinting to get up to speed and start rolling through immediately.
After a messy 10-15km, we finally got the group working well. Yes, that’s right, only one side needs to be riding hard to drive the pace. Unsurprisingly, the women were holding their own. At various points on the way out, we picked up Bec, The Chaotic Energy Crew (incl. Nancy, Kirstie, Jo and Shannon) “Have a rest and then roll when you can” was echoed throughout the group. Nope, none of that. Straight into it. Inspirational stuff.
Unfortunately, with the weather being warm (yet not apocalyptically warm) and a high average speed, I looked back to find a smaller and smaller group. Within a km of the turn-around, we caught sight of the leading group, they didn’t seem that far ahead, but they had more numbers. Once we cleared up the confusion of the U-turn (where the cones finish is where we are meant to turn around, Roger, stress less) we faced the reality of our smaller group and our roll throughs turned into a pace line. As we continued down the road, we saw the flood of smaller groups coming the other way. Bloody hell, they seemed close – I’m sure we would be caught. Once they joined to form a bigger group, they would overpower the 6, 7 maybe 8 of us left working together.
Current plan, keep this group as far ahead as we can for as long as possible, retaining enough energy so that the jump onto the next group would not result in a leg explosion and getting dropped. 2 gels, 4 Clif blocks, a bottle and a bit down. Plenty of food and water left, I felt confident. 66km… 75km… 80km… I started looking back. Where the hell was scratch? Tom very kindly reminded me “Stop looking back Kate, Hanno’s up ahead, we have to catch him first.” Right you are Tom, let’s keep rolling. By 95km, we caught sight of the front group, rounding a slight uphill bend, a few shouts of encouragement and we were pulling short, hard turns to bump up our speed. With a steady surge up the hill, we started to absorb those who had been distanced. This change in pace also put a few others in strife, leaving wheels dropped and only 4 of us left from the 21/22min group.
At 105km, suddenly the realisation that Scratch was not going to catch us sunk in, and if we wanted to catch the front group, we had to do it ourselves. Ross, Tom, Darcie and I had our work cut out for us. We edged closer and closer until we hit the final hill, roughly 4km from the finish. Ross rolled off the front, and the front group was in sight, and what seemed to be within reach. It would take a pretty hard turn to close that gap, as they could taste the win on the tip of their tongues. Right, I thought, now was the time. I pushed down on the pedals harder and harder, and tried and reduce the gap to the front 5. When I looked back and saw a gap had formed between myself, and the other 3, I decided to attempt to catch them in a solo pursuit. Cresting the hill with around 300m of distance between myself and the leaders, I tucked down as low as possible in the drops and pedaled manically down the other side of the hill. The 53/11 was no match for this hill and I found myself spinning out very quickly.
The last person I would pass would be Adrian, barely off the back of the front bunch but 112ish kilometres had taken their toll, a fantastic ride none the less. I pushed on for those last 3 and a bit kms solo but couldn’t quite match the speed of the group ahead, rolling across the line for 5th place, and 19 seconds down.
What a day. While I was undeniably happy with my personal results, I was more thrilled with the atmosphere and the privilege of being able to race with so many fantastic personalities that I ride with weekly. The banter in the groups were second to none, and the familiar faces eliminated any nervous energy that might have otherwise been present.
Thank you Beverley Heroic, I can’t wait to be back next year.