2011 Highland’s Cycling Classic
On Sunday Northern in conjunction with Banyule Cycling Club conducted the inaugural running of the Highlands Masters Spring Classic which is expected to become an ongoing feature on the race calendar.
The race was open to AVCC registered riders, but also an invitation to all non-registered riders and eligible ACF Masters riders. The event started in Highlands, a small town consisting of a single primary school and a CFA, 20km out of Yea situated on the top of the plateau above Seymour and Yea in the Pyrenees Ranges.
|5th||Andy Van Slobbe||Hawthorn|
|3rd||James McArdle||Dirt Riders|
By the time we approached the turnaround I unfortunately started feeling one of the side effects of the prior night’s wedding. To put it bluntly, I needed a nature break and being a “neo-pro” in the Vets field I didn’t want to make a mess of things, or anyone else’s things for that matter. I dropped to the back after the turnaround and attempted to discover my inner experienced pro rider and keep the bike moving whilst…well…you know. Unfortunately I have a lot to learn about the art of peeing whilst moving. With the peloton riding tempo whilst scoffing down gels and the like I decided it was best for me to stop to relieve myself. I let Ron know and got to business as quickly as I could, cognisant of a female rider who was off the back at the turnaround.
Despite what seemed like a Formula One like pitstop I lost a lot of ground to the bunch, probably a good 800m. It was probably a good 15 minute TT to close the gap and it was such a relief to finally bridge…and then the bunch surged! Off the back again I was, struggling to keep in touch. Thankfully I managed to bridge again and stay with the peloton.
My only focus at this time was recovering until we got back to Highlands. Once again it was a tempo pace with the odd surge thrown in to test the legs on the uphill sections. Of the guys I knew regular ‘Vets riders George and Kiwi Kevin were riding strong, as were regular Peak Bike Hub riders Ron, Jeremy and Ian. Ian in particular was doing a truckload of work at the front and he can be very proud of his performance today.
The descent from Highlands was the cue for one of the riders I didn’t know to steal a break on the rest of C-grade. I paused momentarily to see if anyone was interested in a pursuit but remembered my preference to be up the front for this tricky descent. I was joined in the chase by Kiwi Kev and it was an exhilarating ride, only spoiled by a large divot in the road at one of the bridges that gave me the second vasectomy I didn’t need!
Kiwi Kev started marshalling the troops to roll turns in order to catch our escapee, however it became clear that not all shared the same interest. So it was myself, Kev and the regular Peak cohorts who did the lion’s share of the pace making to catch our escapee just prior to the turnaround at Whiteheads Creek.
With the impasse negotiated thanks again to Kiwi Kev, we set about raising the pace and rolling turns for a short time before our prior escapee – having sheltered in the peloton for some time – decided to attack the bunch just as the road pitched up again around the 90km mark. This was quickly shut down by myself, Kev, George and one other but had done enough damage to split the bunch.
A subsequent double digit pinch climb was the catalyst for more fireworks, with George and the escapee attacking, Kevin in hot pursuit, whilst I did my best to stay out of the red zone with one other guy for company. My companion lost touch and I managed to stay within 50m of Kevin, whilst the two up front duelled their way up the climb another 200m ahead.
In a really sporting gesture Kev soft pedalled for a moment to allow me to get back on and I then repaid the favour by chewing bar tape on the descent into the wind for him. Kev’s legs were cooked however and he motioned for me to go, which I did. The same bridge that gave me the second vasectomy once again caused me grief, almost send me over the bars as my hands were jolted from the impact due to the uneven road and bridge surfaces.
By this stage George and his companion were well up the road and with 5km to the finish I set about TT’ing the final climb . The legs were grumpy and it was a nerve racking final 5km, with repeated looks over my shoulder to check for what I felt would be an inevitable attack from behind.
I was relieved to get to the the Welcome to Highlands sign as I knew it the worst of the climb was over and the finish was in sight. One last check showed clear daylight behind me so I zipped up my jersey like a true pro and savoured the final pedal strokes to cross the finish in 3rd place. Mrs G was also there waiting camera in hand to greet me, which made my day!
I’ve already sung the praises of the Banyule Cycling Club and the Northern Vets but my biggest thanks go to my fellow riders for the way in which you all looked after one another on what were some sketchy pieces of road at times. Bravo!