Recovering from the Bendigo 6hr MTB Race took longer than expected. I spent five days back home in Traralgon and I’d only clocked 40kms on the roadie, which now felt a little odd with it’s rounded handlebars, STI levers and a smooth riding surface. So when I returned to Bendigo on the Friday to start yet another weekend, it wasn’t dirt and grease that needed cleaning off my celeste green Bianchi, but a rag to wipe the cobwebs. I suffered through the local ‘7’s bunch’ on Saturday morning, apprehensively rolling turns before grovelling home on the back, then fronted for my second Bendigo Club Classic on Sunday, from Marong to Wedderburn. There seems to be some sick rumour going around that states I have some form, so the handicappers put me back from 14 minutes to 11 minutes for the 75km adventure. I was racing ‘fresh’, which felt really good for the first 60kms, and not that great for the final 15!
This past week was also spent at home. On Wednesday I went with my sister Kerry to another of her midwife appointments to hear the heartbeat of her baby girl. She is already huge, in a good pregnant way of course (pictured above) and is not due until August! I can’t wait until August is upon us, because it will signal the final of the winter months, something I’m complaining about already and we’re only 9 days in! The weather, aside from cold on Thursday, was pleasant for riding so I ventured up and over Mount Tassie to witness, for the first time since Black Saturday, the devastation caused by the raging bushfires. As I rode past mounds of burnt memories, I recalled the stories of homes and lives lost. We were hit hard in Traralgon South and surrounding bush lands, damaging over 250 homes and ending 11 lives. A bake fest did it’s best to take my mind off it all, with hedgehog, carrot cake, banana and chocolate muffins preparing me for the weekend.
Those that keep an eye on my calendar would assume that I spent half the long weekend just gone in Wagga Wagga, and subsequently, the other half spent driving to and from the border town out whoop whoop. But instead, it’s Tuesday morning and I’ve woken with a small yet evident headache after celebrating the conclusion of the 3 Day ‘Golden Square Hotel’ Tour of Bendigo. It’s not hard to believe that I ended up in Bendigo, as they struggle to keep me away at the best of times. What they couldn’t keep away was the torrential rain. Nevertheless, the tour attracted 90 starters, with 23 in A grade, 26 in B grade and a massive 38 in C grade. It would be a sprinters tour with large time bonuses of 15-12-10 for the 11 intermediate sprints on the road, and finish bonuses of 20-16-12 for the five mass start stages. With prize money only given out for General Classification, it was going to be a case of ‘who finishes-wins money’…
Saturday saw a late 1pm start to Stage 1 out at Newbridge. B Grade were set for two varying size laps toward Dunolly that allowed for two intermediate sprints over 80.3kms. I didn’t contest the first as I feared for my life in the wet, and after contesting the second, concluded that maybe sprint bonuses weren’t going to come my way this tour! It was pissing rain and it was freezing… I was beginning to find winter a little demotivating. A group of five forged a 30 second lead that fell to within 10 by the finish. I rolled in for 12th, leaving me 12th on GC while John Macague (Bendigo CC), stage winner, donned the yellow. In A grade, the stage was won by Tim Decker (Titans) in attacking fashion (pictured below in yellow), with Bendigo Club Champion James Ibrahim becoming one of four victims in a nasty crash just kilometres from the line.
Sunday morning presented all grades with a 72.2km Road Race from Woodstock-Newbridge-Melville Caves, finishing atop a 2km climb. The stage incorporated two sprints along the way that were claimed by those in a two man escape. Their attempts were spoilt when the catch was made on the final climb that saw a Ballarat unknown ride to victory. Nick Moroni would wear yellow (below) after claiming third, while I was quietly satisfied and physically suffering after finishing fourth. The rain held off again for the afternoon stage that saw us race directly back from Melville Caves-Woodstock, totally 44.5kms with a nurturing tailwind. Just the one sprint made for a fast paced 45km/hr session, but somehow a solo escapee, once again from Ballarat, managed to stay away for the win! A grade stages were claimed by Mark O’Brien (Drapac) and Jamie Crass (Titans) in early breaks, with James Mowatt (MTB’er Ballarat) stripping Decker of his leader’s jersey.
Monday bought more cold weather, this time it also bought wind as we raced around the local Emu Creek circuit. Wes Steel (Titans) made use of the tough conditions, spending over 30 of the 69kms solo, taking sprint bonuses while he could. Meanwhile, the bunch were being disciplined by the commissaires…when we slowed for a cow on the road, Darren Strauch (Bendigo CC) attacked and was told to re-join the chasers. When another Bendigonian stole a solo victory, he was relegated for attacking over the white lines in the final 2kms. I was involved in the chasing and even a few attacks today, my legs having finally warmed up after Saturday’s torrential weather. My lack of power however, was still letting me down during the all important sprints. Starting the day in seventh meant that an aggressive criterium was needed if I was keen to win some money!
The final stage was more to my liking, a 60 minute kermesse around Mayfair Park incorporating four sprints and an uphill finish. It was a hard start to the stage, yet it took a whole half hour to involve myself in a five man break. I finished fifth on both the stage and the tour, while the jersey changed hands for the final time to youngster Todd Schintler (Cycle Concepts), a deserving winner! I was happy with my final day but will be seeking some much needed form in the next few weeks. Jamie Crass (Titans) took his second stage win in A grade, while Tim Decker (Titans) bridged the gap to seal the Tour. The only sour note? When Jarrod was fined $100 for mouthing off to the officials in regards to the clearly evident team racing that took place. Where the program states “No teams racing. Riders offending will be penalised” Maybe they meant to write “We utterly and completely encourage the unjust aspect of teams racing”…