Thankfully I gave myself plenty of time for the drive to Warragul because the South Eastern Fwy came to a stand still near Stud rd on the trip out. I spotted the Lovelock crew in the same predicament and Jono thought it was appropriate to give me the finger. No respect these youngin's!
I rego’ed up then rollered my legs to get them ready. I got to have a chat to James Broadway, Kim, Shane Miller and Von all in the space of 5mins. Von was driving up to the finish so into their car was a bag of my clothes for the waiting up top. She was also going to feed me if I needed it at Noojee. Thanks Von!
I got to the line a touch later than I was planning but was able to scoot up the right side of the bunch 2nd wheel behind J.B. Heh, then I remembered this is a road race, not a XC race and being up the front isn’t as important. Still, I'm more relaxed being there.
The sprint comes early in the Baw Baw Classic and with about 1km to go, I notice Tom Crebbin losing ballast down his left leg. It must help because he takes out the sprint.
The small road that takes us to Jindivick is a pleasure to ride and with a few hills along it, gives me the change to check out the names I hadn’t seen in any race start list before. One guy stands out, he’s a sinuous sparrow aboard some full carbon bling thing that I can’t even tell what brand it is. “It looks like HEEE’s out to party”.
Somewhere around one of the ‘Nerrims’ we come up on a sloth C Grade and we eventually pass. Like last year, there is a dig on the rise topping out at Nerrim Junction, though this time it’s the head of the race not the chase. S.M & T.C are in it. I wait for the down then jump on and enjoy the super fast descent (top speed; 90km\h) into Noojee where it’s all back together. Us Masters enjoy a good casual feed whereas C Grade woof theirs down and pass us before Vespers Hill. This is starting to annoy me and even more annoying is two Masters riders sucking C grade Wheel up Vespers. They are noted by the peloton and kept in check. C Grade start to go on the nod again as their feast at the feed kicks in and they are in need of a nap. We pick our way up Vespers and finally get the chance for some good clean road to dig into. Ciaran Jones applies the pressure about mid climb and gets a gap. I’m heading up at a heavy enough pace on the wheel of J.B and happy to watch from here. C.J tops out with the K.O.M with J.B and I joining him through the cars down the other side. There is eventually four of us with some C Grade riders along for the ride. We ignore them and the four of us work the front.
S.M had done a good share of the pull earlier in the race and he’d worked his way back up to us at this point. Upon his arrival he announces he’s happy to burn his matches on the descents to help us stay away. It’s through the awesome forest on that magic small road to Tanjil Bren and the descent leaves C Grade grabbing for their brakes as we let fly. On the rise to the Toll Gate C Grade are back and sitting in again.
Past the Toll Gate I’m aware of two other riders, J.B and C.J. C.J leads but his speed is slower than my legs need to be turning so I find myself out in front. I quickly settle into a groove and I’m in my own world as I listen to my body. Before the new road section I take a peak behind, J.B and C.J are close by. There are a few pinches here and I start to feel my legs. Next is the straight section up to the two super steep corners and the three of us are riding close at similar tempos. I ease off before each super steep corner then take a run up at them to save the legs from grinding away.
C.J throws in a few attacks and I cover them. Not sure if that’s all he has or backs off sensing me on his wheel. There’s a small truce on the false flat. I feel like I’m starting to feel the climb in my legs and have to concentrate hard. Just before we reach the 2km to go mark, J.B bangs out an all mighty attack. I scrabble for his wheel but it’s short lived as his kitchen is WAY too hot. I retreat back to my own Bain Marie just in time before I over cook. Now it’s time to just manage the max effort without over cooking and see what happens. I’m going faster if I’m seated but can’t sustain it and rest while standing on the pedals. It feels like I’m getting a gap on C.J but can’t make any ground on J.B. A stitch kicks in… “What stitch?!” I keep alternating, milking as much as I can out of my legs. Finally the gradient eases and I drive for the line. I try and spot C.J a few times but can’t and keep the gas on till I’m through the stone walls that mark the finish this year… FUCK YEAH, I’m 2nd!
I roll all the way to the end of the road and see C.J on the return and stop, shake his hand and thank him for a fuck of a great race. We roll back to the stone wall and do the same with J.B.
Warm clothes, coffee and then the presentations. The guy drops the Masters Perpetual Trophy and now the rider on top is headless and the front wheel is taco’ed! I get a lift back to Warragul to my car with S.M and Von is their swanky new Subi, grab some celebratory Stella’s for the drive and head back up Baw Baw to join in the “Festival of Mt. Doom” with J.B, Kim, Steve\Pete and Cristine.
Full results here.