Racing got back underway on Sunday 17/1/21 for the new year – fingers crossed we can pull together a full season. Congrats to Liam McGuire and Olivia Gollan for taking Mens and Womens line honours – always a tough ask after the Christmas lay off.
Thanks to Mark W for the below thoughts on XC racing from his perspective (DH will be put up later today)
What a brilliant day for a club day, and a great day for my triumphant return to HMBA grade racing. It was warm but the breeze was cool at the start line. As the A graders started, the banter in C grade was strong with “Big”John Richardson making some outrageous claims as I eyed off the competition. Most of the usual “back pack” of C grade were there, each fervently understating the riding they’d been doing over Christmas and claiming new low expectations for performance.
B grade started, and C grade shuffled into position. I knew a good start would be critical to my race so lined up on the far right of the grid. Chief Commissaire Hardy gave the 15 second call and I thought to myself – I really should have gone to the loo before this. Go! I quickly brought myself up to race speed and saw that I was in the last 5/6 of the 37 C grade racers – WTF? I buried myself in the first climb past the toilets and quickly fell into the conga line that had formed.
Holding my place, I looked over my shoulder to see a stream of D graders already hot on our tails… not sure what the commissaire was thinking… but the line was well formed and they’d have to wait their turn. There was very little change in order for most of lap 1 till we reached the crappy climb after the Sallad Bowl bypass where I was passed by my first D grader, who promptly sat up, right in front, and sucked the momentum out of my climb – I would have sworn at him if I’d had the breath. The run back to the start saw me keep the C grader ahead of me within reach but I did get passed by another couple of D grade sand-baggers.
Lap 2 settled into a good rhythm. I’d lose ground on the descents and claw it back on the climbs. I was surprised not to have been passed by Bruce Gow as he looked in awesome post Xmas form but somehow I was holding him off. I got lapped in the last third of the lap by Liam McGuire (such a polite guy) and towards the end of the lap lost touch with my closest rival…I was on my own.
Lap 3, I was still feeling good, though I started to see a few more riders lapping me from A grade, then B before the end. Rodney Rae blew by on his own, and a little later Vincent Keir being chased by Paul Monk passed at speed. I called out some encouragement but I’m sure they were already out of hearing range…bastards. I passed another C grader, which was pretty sweet I’ve got to tell you, only to then have him draft me then pass me back on the Jenkins Rd climb. By then I’d spent most of my bickies so the chase was out of the question. Then in the final 100m I caught and passed Jarrad Stow. I felt a little bad about that, but hey, whatever it takes to build my self esteem (and Jarrod regularly beats me).
Crossing the finish line I was welcomed by the site of all those smug faster people who were already looking to load their bikes up to leave, having already debriefed… they probably didn’t even have to catch their breath!
Actually, what really happened, was the usual post race chatter (socially distanced of course) and encouragement that I love about our club, which keeps me coming back to line up with C grade year after year. No idea who won the battle for C grade. I think I placed in the mid 30s which is about right. Might have to work on my late race fitness…….
NOTE: – Results are at this link – yes we know there are some things to sort out with A-Grade numbers that will be fixed later today – if there are any other issues please email firstname.lastname@example.org:
Reminder: BRING YOUR RACE PLATES to the next race – thanks.