As alluded to in an earlier post, I had made the commitment to race the 228km Grafton to Inverell cycle classic, a decision full of enthusiasm yet devoid of sense. Preferring to ride the wave of enthusiasm, and not dwell on the realities of the endeavor, I packed the Cannondale, filled the car with enough Gatorade to kill a horse (briefly considering filling the car’s tank with some electrolyte as well), and set off down the Pacific Highway to Grafton. 4 hours and 3 black metal albums later, I had arrived in Grafton, and immediately bumped into triathletes and cycle dabblers Shane Barrie and David Mainwairing, also committed to the Inverell Odyssey. A lazy pizza that night, and a bit of nervous banter, we were ready to go.
Having previously expressed outrage at the notion of ‘warming up’ for a 6 hour bike race, extreme nerves and a decent splash of ‘do what everyone else is doing’ attitude meant I was doing laps around Grafton and urinating in equal amounts for a good 40 minutes prior to race start. Whilst adding even more kms to an already ambitious day, I had recalled setting new power PBs in the ‘neutral’ section of the only other cycle race I’ve ever done, so was a tad wary about the extreme embarrassment that could befall me if I got dropped before the start horn had even been sounded.
|Up The Gibraltar Range|
8 am rolled around and we clicked in and were away, thankfully at a moderate tempo for the neutral section. Once we had conquered the lamentably brief neutral section the flag dropped, and we didn’t see much below 50km/hr for the next hour, until the early break was established. Given that the idea of spending 200km + in a break was about as appealing as a Mitt Romney presidential term, I was content to sit mid pack and munch powerbars for the early segment. Once the break was established, we took a quick toilet stop (established by someone yelling ‘Pissa!!!’, followed by stopping en mass to empty our bladders), and rode a solid tempo to the bottom of the Gibraltar Range.
|Bludging At The Back...|
The pace up the Range was nothing short of pyroclastic for the first 10 mins, before settling into a consistent tempo that I was pretty comfortable enough with for the 17kms of climbing. By this stage, the main pack had dwindled to just over 20, with the break still up the road consisting of 13. I amused myself for the next hour or so bludging at the back whilst some of the teams chased the break down, keeping myself entertained by almost crashing at the first feed station, and spending a good 2 kms trying to de-tangle a feed bag which had quite vexingly entangled in my handlebars.
We picked up all bar 2 of the breakaway at around 140 kms, and so the onus was once again on the big teams to do the chasing, as the two riders out in front were both from Team Budget Forklifts. Once again I kept myself amused by starting some conversation in the bunch, subtly trying to figure out what the hell was going to happen over the last 50 kms, and what sort of terrain was ahead, whilst also congratulating myself on an error free second feed station.
|Bludging In The Middle...|
The break had a maximum of around 7 mins at one stage, but was whittled down to around 3 mins with around 30 kms to go, following some committed chasing by some of the NRS teams. Once we hit once of the last hills at 208km, the race exploded, turning into a last man standing free for all, with attacks flowing like cliches from a newsreader. Despite the copious attacks, our bunch only shed a few, and we were still 22 strong heading into the last few kms. With the 2 lads from Budget Forklifts holding on to take the win by 29 seconds over the bunch, the famous “Wilson Sprint” was involved in the sprint for 3rd... but finished 19th. No Cavendish fibers in my legs, it would seem... However, I was happy with my strength throughout the race and over the hills, certainly a fun way to spend 6 hours...
Check the stats...
Time: 6hrs 14 mins 08 secs
Vertical Metres Climbed: 2948 m
Maximum Averages (68kg)
1 sec: 987 Watts
12 sec: 718 Watts
6 min: 411 Watts
30 min: 351 Watts
Ave Power: 257 Watts
Max HR: 194
Ave HR: 150
Calories Burned: 5146 (Equivalent to over 20 mars bars...)
2.25 L Gatorade (585 calories)
1.5 L Coke (645 calories)
250ml Red Bull (115 calories)
4 Powerbars (912 calories)
3 Gels (300 calories)
1 Fly (negligible) Total: 2442 Calories