Wednesday, June 10, 2009


A few people have asked about the three day tour, and how it went for me. So here goes.

Day Zero.

Nath, Caro and I drive up on Friday night, which was perhaps the best decision we made all weekend. Checked into the Glen Erin, four ks out of Lancefield, a nice easy warm up ride away. The first disappointment of the weekend came quite soon afterwards - the spa was outdoors, and didn't seem to have been turned on since summer. We head out to find a place to eat in Romsey, share some bawdy banter and head home to bed. At 9.30. Holiday weekend! Party Hard!

Day One.

Due to sickness in the three weeks previous, I've signed up for C grade, which has earned me a serious amount of derision from some of my peers. But come on. I tried to race the Madison at DISC the Tuesday before and only made it to 30 laps, so I know I'm not in any kind of decent shape. So I'm quite happy when I realise C grade is going to take it easy for the first race. We roll around and not much happens. No attacks, no breaks. I sprint at the end and score a second.

We hang out at the Aspy cafe in Lancefield for a while afterwards. I fear that the cafe is named due to the large number of wait staff with Asperger's syndrome, but that proved not to be the case. One of the waiters takes a shine to Caro (who is ill this weekend and not riding) and gives her a copy of Murray Bail's Eucalyptus, which is one of my favourite books. The novel, however, doesn't seem to be any indication of decency in men.

Everyone is supposedly heading down to the Lancefield pub for dinner, in order to take advantage of the cyclist soup and pasta deal. We follow them down there and get caught up talking tactics most of the night. It's a tiring pastime - there's a lot of pressure - and to avoid concentrating too hard I spend a lot of my energy writing Bruce Springsteen lyrics on the tablecloth.

Day Two.

First up is the individual time trial. I've never done one before, don't have time trial bars or helmet or bike, and am wearing leggings that look like jeans. Quite often in this road racing caper I feel like an imposter, the random punk kid who snuck in and, lets face it, will likely steal a bunch of things. Never more so than today. I do ok in the time trial, but not well enough, and am out of contention for the GC. Looks like I'm aiming for sprint points from now on.

Next is the third stage, another scratch out on the road. Everyone seems pretty wrecked after the time trial - except for me, who obviously didn't try hard enough. It's slow and weary going. Compounding the general tiredness is the cold, and the wet, and the wind. I take the a second in the first intermediate sprint and a win in the next. At the finish I'm supposed to be leading out Sparkey, a fellow Brunswick member who is currently tour leader, but when I launch into the sprint I'm not in the best spot to help out, so I back myself and take the stage win.

Despite the obvious disappointment of there being no spa, I have taken full advantage of the deep bath in our ensuite so far this weekend, and tonight is no different. It is sensational. Afterwards we drive into Gisborne for some Thai. We make terrible puns over dinner and drive home through the dark night of the Macedon Ranges.

Day Three

I find out at the pre-race briefing that my number wasn't showing yesterday, and as such the points I thought I'd accumulated in the intermediate sprints weren't counted. I figure I've still got it wrapped up, so decide to do more work for Sparkey through the hills. This fucking kills me. I'm not a fan of hills at the best of times, and doing work on the front in order to string out the bunch is not my favourite way to spend the afternoon. There are attacks all day, and for the most part we let them go, but with about 20ks to go we send Andrew Gannon out to chase one down. It doesn't really work out that way - the two of them start working together and are a long way out. A group of three St Kilda guys head out after them and look like they're going to catch up, but the next we see of them they're sprawled out on the ground. The bunch neutralises out of respect, then guns it out of there. Folks are pushing the pace, trying to get an advantage before the sprint. I'm pretty much spent, and know that I'm out of it, so I try to block other GC contenders while another teammate leads Sparkey out. It doesn't work out that well - we all end up finishing in the bunch - and when we look at the times later that afternoon we discover that Andrew has taken out the overall prize.

The presentations are at the Lancefield pub, so we head down there again. We spend a lot of time standing around waiting for the photographers to get the lighting exactly right, but when procedings get off the ground we are alerted to the fact that Brunswick riders have taken out A, B and C grades. Not bad. I pick up a bunch of cash for my podium finishes, and a slightly thicker wad for the green jersey. The guy who took a shine to Caro on day one is lingering in the front bar, so we make a quick getaway out the back door, you know, to avoid further awkwardness.

On the way home we talk about the topic cyclists usually talk about after a big race: what the hell we're going to do now. I'm hoping to race as much as possible, score some consistent results in B grade, maybe do some opens. Caro wants to get more racing in, and perhaps do some more training. Nath has a coach writing up a program for him and wants to get fitter. It's good talk, filled with hope and promise and glory to come, but as the city comes back into view we fall quiet.

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