D GRADE PONDERINGS BY THE PROFESSOR
They say that red wine is good for the heart – that being the case, after my efforts on Saturday night, my heart will continue beating for another 200 years!! And so it is that I front up to a surprisingly calm morning at Casey Fields with the mother of all hangovers.
Fortunately, D Grade has a reasonable number of riders, so my pre race strategy is to try and sit in the bunch, do nothing and avoid coating the track with a combination of red wine remnants and carrots! To make life tougher for me (and everyone else), the wind picks up just before we start and I’m convinced that Foxy the president has ordered a 10 goal northerly breeze to come in at precisely 9.15am.
What I thought would be an easy first lap changed when Rob Feigan (great to see you back racing in D Grade, Rob) put in a surge up the incline, which had me gasping for oxygen. Life settled back down shortly after and we cruised around the course until Leah Paterson put in a surge. Expecting an attempted breakaway by Leah, I panicked and quickly jumped onto her wheel.
The pace picked up until Leah called me through to take the lead. So much for my pre race strategy of doing nothing! During my stint at the front, B Grade passes us and I’m only too happy to slow down so they can move ahead. Shortly after, I’m relieved of my duties and I settle back into the bunch for a much needed rest.
Tim Maffey has come to the front and I recall him being involved in a breakaway on Thursday night, so he is definitely one rider to watch.
Carolyn Phillips decides to increase the tempo and opens up a small lead; however it is short lived and we quickly reel her back in. David Kennedy takes a turn at the front and I notice that he looks very strong – another rider to watch. At this rate, I’ll be watching the whole peloton!
The legendary Brian Dew decides to put in a surge and is quickly joined by Carolyn Phillips. Suspecting a breakaway, I somehow get out of the saddle to chase them down and eventually catch them. Life in the peloton again settles down with Tim, doing a truck load of work out in front.
With the wind now picking up, no-one is interested in launching a breakaway, however there a few cameo surges that gets the peloton jumping. I’ve been able to hang on up till now, but the heat and the previous night’s intake are causing me some grief. A glance at the time has me calculating that we have about 5 laps to go and I’m hoping that I can survive until then.
The mood of the peloton is a bit more relaxed and it seems that everyone is saving themselves for the last lap. Just as we were hoping to get the bell, C Grade passes us and Foxy signals to us to slow down and let C Grade get ahead. Either that; or we will be out on the track until lunchtime. With C grade eventually out of the picture, we come around again to get that beautiful sound of the bell.
I’ve been caught on the inside and am completely surrounded by riders. Getting out is clearly an issue and I’m hoping that I can find a gap before we hit the back straight. For once, I’m in luck and I manage to squeeze my way to the outside just before the back hairpin bend. Surprisingly, the pace is slow along the back straight and I’m contemplating launching an early sprint home. I shelve the idea as I realise I’m getting my ambitions mixed up with my capabilities.
As we swing up the incline for the final time, riders soon start getting out of the saddle and sprinting for home. Brian Dew has somehow weaved his way through the crowd, while David Kennedy and Dean Ashton are fighting it out at the front. Tim is still in with a chance; however at the end David Kennedy is too strong and takes the win. Dean Ashton comes through in 2nd, while Brian Dew completes a great week to hold onto 3rd place. I stagger through in 6th place and am relieved to have completed a tough day at the office.
Thanks to the officials for making the day’s race possible.
Lemonade for me next Saturday night!