Started the race with intentions to try and stay in the top 20 for the majority of the race, when we hit the climb all 130 riders were still together, I felt good up the climb and rode away from bunch and made about 300 m on the bunch by the time I got to the top I was going for KOM but there was one other rider in front of me, but then we had a group of about 20 riders with 4 Coffs riders in it Vaggy, Chris Andrews Reece and me, we all stayed together trying to make sure 3 of us finished so we could win the teams, 20kms out Reece attacked out of nowhere and won the sprint followed by several of Chris Andrews attach however we were all together for the sprint at the end I struggled to sprint as I couldn't get out of my saddle from cramps.
Tough Day for me. Got cramps, pulled out after 140klm. Will try again next year.
made it. Felt dreadful from bottom of mountain to 195km mark with snot flowing very freely (ed. too much information Luke!).
After spending Friday afternoon in bed fighting off a sickly cold feeling, I lined up on Saturday morning not feeling crash hot. The concoction of panadol, cold and flu tablets and whatever else I thought would work, wasn't good pre race nutrition. Anyway our race got underway, with our glamour lap of the thriving town centre of Glen Innes. Our first QOM was at 15km's, my thoughts were do I step off the bike or wait for me to faint? There was a good downhill that I could recover on so I continued on. There were a few small attacks that were quickly shut down. The QOM at Wire Gully saw an attack by Louise Kerr and Lauren Kitchen and 4 other girls stick. The group of six stayed away for the rest of the race, I was in the second bunch of 6. We worked well together and held the bunch in sight until the Elsmore loop, 25k's from the finish. I had once again (happened last year) ran out of water..so a quick scab amongst the bunch and I found a willing rider to offer me some watered down hot endura...mmm beggers can't be choosers! Anyway it fixed my drought mouth from the cold and flu tablets and got me through the last 15kms. Port Macquarie rider Lauren Kitchen took the sprint to claim the win ahead of my friend Sue Forsythe from North Sydney CC and Loren Rooney from the Gold Coast Goldstars. My bunch came in for the sprint which resulted in me taking 8th place. I was so happy for Lauren and Sue to take the podium spots and glad that I finished the race. A bit disappointed that I was sick but, what can you do? Thanks to my support crew once again. The girl's peloton are really getting to know my cheer squad. Hubby Dave, what can I say, chief mechanic, chief child minding, chief director sportif!
Fitness wise, it was the best G2I I've ever done, but tactically it was a disaster. First 70km was fine, at the start of the climb I stopped to pick up 2 bottles that my support had dropped for me only to find they were 90% ice. Oh well, I did order my drinks cold! Having a history of blowing up on the climb, I decided to let the leaders go and settle in to my own pace - problem was I couldn't find anyone else riding at my pace. At Heffron's lookout I realised I was having a good day, and decided to try to rejoin the leaders who were about 3 min ahead. By the top I was 1 min behind and had to make a quick decision to keep chasing or sit up and wait - I elected to chase. What followed was a 35km time trial with no thought to the remaining 150km I had to ride. Every 10 minutes or so I would catch site of the bunch and that would encourage me to keep going. At Mt Mitchell I was 4 min behind and decided to sit up and wait for the next bunch, and they caught me about 5km later.
This turned out to be the most frustrating bunch I've ever ridden with. Only about 5 of the 20 riders seemed interested in chasing the leaders. What ensued was a lot of attacking in an attempt to split the bunch, a couple of breakaways with one other rider, but all to no avail.
At the Glen Innes feed station I started to feel a bit off. The missed bottle of High5 (the frozen one) had just caught up with me and I was going into a hunger flat, but as usual I didn't recognise the warning signs. At the start of the Waterloo climb the engine just shut down and the lights went out. I started sucking down Coke as fast as I could but there was nothing I could do to stay with the bunch. That was about the time that Sean and Leigh drove along beside me and offered me a lift, and I was oh so tempted. But I decided to keep riding, and about 15min later the Coke kicked in and I was off again.
Decision time (again) - should I sit up and cruise in with the next bunch or do another 50km time trial? Nah - might as well make it a good training ride, so I opted for the time trial. I actually really enjoyed that last 50km. At the finish I was surprised to discover I was only 14 minutes behind the time of the lead bunch, so all up I was pretty happy with the day.
After 2 months of dodging cars trucks and caravans I finally made it to the Grafton to Inverell race “Oh My G what have I got myself into.”
Race day, 5.55am all the alarms are going off in my daughters place at Grafton. It is here finally!
Now for the 6 weetbixs, 2 Bananas ( mine of course) 1 litre of milk, protein drink. “Oh dear now I really do feel sick “ I stated to my wife and daughter “I’ve eaten much”. Do the final get ready stuff and off to the start.
6.58 am arrived at the start. What No-one is here ??? There are NO Bikes or riders. SO, we park get the gear out. Luckily a young rider came up and said the start is at the crown hotel so off I set to the crown half ready. Wife turns up with the car and all the stuff. The nerves set in.
It was good to see familiar faces and have a chat. Then I saw David Leckenby and that made 2 of us with hairy legs - he he !!!!
Mandy then left with all the other cars and Handlers of to the Mt Mitchell.
A grade start with Dan and Aaron ready for the challenge B grade with Erin flying the Coffs flag . By this time the crowd was in a frenzy waiting for C grade to start.
Here was me, a little hairy chicken legged broken down banana grower in amongst some legends’ of the sport like Mat Vagg, Sean Golding ,Dave Leckenby, with young guns Chris, Reece and Luke ready to put Coffs cycling on the world map. The starter counts down...
8.30 and we're off 134 rider bunch. I thought the biggest bunch I have ridden in is 20, I was to scarred to have drink for the first hour just in case I dropped my water bottle and caused a pile up!
The first 30 km was a breeze except for the surges of such a big bunch, the first climb at Cattle Creek got rid of a ¼ the bunch and that nearly included me, luckily a young bloke kept pulling me back on to the back of the pack. The final straw was a nature break agreed by the bunch, by the time I got organized, I looked around the young guns had been and gone up the road 300 meters and the chase was on. This wasn’t much fun! So I bit the bullet and finally worked my way though all the carbon bikes and the fast sounding Zipp wheels. Finally a familiar face appeared, Reece was cruising along , much easier ,1st lesson don’t be shy get up front.
Stayed with Reece to the bottom of the Gibraltar climb I wished him luck and knuckled down for the climb.
Feeling I had done a bit too much work hanging of the back I got back into a good rhythm.
I saw the Grafton team ahead so then rode with them for a while 2nd lesson - I made the mistake thanking Grafton for supplying Coffs with the water I was drinking out of my bottle, after a bit of good banter it was time to move on and upwards and started to pass a few riders now.
The Rainbow boys must have thought that silly old bugger would get lost so they left a trail of rainbow water bottles all the way up the mountain for me to follow.
3rd lesson no use passing all those riders up the climb and get to the top and ride by yourself for 20 km!!.
Started getting cramps about 15 km from Mt Mitchell but luckily a bunch caught me and took the pressure of my legs, we made Mt Mitchell feed station picked up our food and off we went.
1.15pm By that time we had a bunch about 10 riders. It was agreed that we would try and get everyone to the finish.
We push on to Glen Innes weave our way through town all the crowd barriers in place ,the only people we saw where 3 drunks and a flea bitten cattle dog outside one of the pubs who’s fun for the day was to see if the dog could heal a few lycra wearing bike riders, cramps didn’t matter every one out of their saddle and out of there.
2nd feed station looked in my feed bag guess what!!!, more gels and bars by this time I thought 160km we usually have stopped and a couple times and had café latte and cake by now, I slapped myself about and got my mind on the job again.
60 km to go, still having bad cramps luckily the bunch where kind enough not to let me do a turn out in front. We climbed the Waterloo range but going down thinking how good is this 2km fast downhill run I got a speed wobble by the time I slowed down the pack was about 1/2km ahead it took about 3km to get back on. One more climb, Wire Gully, feeling pretty good up and over 20 km to go, started to feel guilty about not doing a turn, so off I went a couple minutes out in front.
Lesson 4 - don’t be a hero; as it took the next 3km to get the cramps in the legs under control.
Last effort coming into Inverell and then it’s all downhill to the finish line. Some of the bunch picked the pace up I think they were all feeling like A graders, we can see the finish line and all sit up together, feeling that we all deserved to finish together. at 8hr 16min.
Well done to all the Coffs riders.
Zeno (mad dog)