THE PROFESSOR’S PONDERINGS – WHAT AM I DOING IN C GRADE?
After accepting the inevitable that I’ll be racing in C Grade, I thought I would try some mental disintegration on some of my opponents, namely Bruce Johnson (The Fox) and Scott Deane (The Man), by blowing them away on the 1 in 20 on our Saturday morning training ride. Unfortunately, all I did was disintegrate myself with a disastrous effort on the 1 in 20. All was not lost on Saturday morning, as Steve Lillie kindly passed on some tips; however they could be summed up in four words “just watch everybody Prof!”
Despite stocking up with red wine at Dan Murphy’s on Saturday (a box of Annies Lane for the bargain price of $60; which means the more you drink, the more you save); I’m the designated driver, so I can’t have my usual prerace feast of red wine and pizza. Not a good lead up to be racing in C Grade.
It turns out to be a good morning for racing and my morning is made even better when I hear that The Expat (aka Mr Bling, Santa, Chopper…) has been promoted into B Grade and Steve Lillie and Jarrod Adem are both scratchings. It didn’t start too good when I instinctively grabbed a D Grade headband – old habits die hard! As we assemble at the start line, I remind my new opponents that if they aren’t kind to me, they will be unceremoniously sledged in my race report.
My prerace plan is to linger around the pointy end, however I wasn’t expecting to be out in front at the end of the first lap! I stay out there for a lap, then gladly peel off to let someone else take over. With the pace starting to pick up with each lap, I’m wondering when the first attack will be. Within moments of that thought, The Man comes from nowhere and starts powering away from the bunch. His attack wasn’t quite as lethal as his Saturday morning sprint up Forest Road, but it has caused some carnage amongst the bunch.
After a lengthy chase, we finally catch up to him – I’ve gone into oxygen debt and end up with gravel rash on my tongue, due to it dragging along the bitumen. I happen to glance over at The Man and he looks like he’s not even breathing! Fortunately, it’s time for a rest and I’m nervously looking out for another attack. It doesn’t seem long before The Man once again is attacking. This time, The Fox gives chase along with one or two others and I’m thinking that they might just breakaway. The bunch decides otherwise and gives chase, so I get towed along nicely up to the attempted breakaway.
Before there’s any chance of a recovery, Big Bad Bruce Dunlop counter attacks, so we give chase again. Life eventually returns to normal when we catch him and settle in for some rest and relaxation. I get excited when I see the boards for the lower grades coming out to indicate their final lap, so I’m hoping that we won’t be long. The excitement fades when I realise that racing in a higher grade means at least an extra two laps.
Lance Wearne indicates to us that E Grade are on the bell and I’m really hoping that we will sit in behind them and let them slug it out on their final lap. Wrong – I think it was Andrew Hahn who launches a lethal attack and so we give chase and in the process, fly past E Grade. No chance of us interrupting their final lap as we are going too fast to get in their way. Time for a rest again and fatigue is now setting in.
Just for a change, The Man attacks again and Big Bad Bruce Dunlop repeats the dose soon after. Despite still sitting in with the bunch, I’m aching all over and when we get the bell, it is music to my ears. To my surprise, no one made an early attack and it isn’t until half way along the back straight that the first moves are made. The bunch gives chase, but I can only wish them good luck and wave them goodbye as I fade away while going up the incline.
In the end, it was John Chipp who took out the chocolates, followed by my former D Grade rivals, Brendan Farrell and Ben Schofield. Thanks to the riders who followed my prerace instructions and were kind to me. As for The Man and his constant attacks, I’ll make sure that he does a minimum of six hill repeats on the 1 in 20 next Saturday so his legs will be like jelly.
Thanks to Lance and the other volunteers who helped put on the race.