While I'm not in the habit of excessively reflecting on races, I think about this one a lot. Unlike most state championship races, this one involved some of the best track enduros in Australia. I probably shouldn't have been there. When Stu Vaughn and I rolled up to the fence Brendan Schultz even turned to us and asked what we were doing. "I don't know," I told him, "but our names are on the start list."
It was the end of the Austral and I was already pretty spent. I'd even considered not starting, but was talked into it by my coach (well, mocked until I agreed to do it would probably be more accurate). I hadn't been that stoked on the Austral as a whole, had already scored a B grade win, and was pretty much ready to go home. So I rolled out with pretty low aims: to make it to half way. The race was 60 laps and I figured I'd pull out at 30. I also wanted to ride an honest race, to pull my half-lap turn whenever it fell to me, to do my share of the chasing when there was someone away, and to not chop or hook anyone.
The racing was hard. No one really got away, but there were surges, attacks, constant changes in the pace. As the laps wore on more and more people dropped out. While someone suggested later that I shouldn't have spent so much time on the front, that was the one time I could control the race - it meant that no one else could make me pedal harder than I wanted to. 30 laps went by and I wasn't quite finished, so my aims changed: now I wanted to be the last B grader in the race.
Matt Keenan was doing the commentary, and each time I hit the front he sounded more and more surprised, until finally I heard him exclaiming that, "Brendan Bailey is somehow still hanging in there!" Even in my semi-delerious state I remember thinking, "Fuck you Matt Keenan! I'm going to finish this fucking race!"
It didn't quite work out that way. With 9 laps to go Glen O'Shea attacked. The selection was being made and I wasn't in it. Former Euro Pro and current B-grader (at Open level) Tom Leaper - who was apparently once in a breakaway in the Giro d'Italia with one Lance Armstrong - was still in the bunch. It didn't matter. Fozzy Bear could've been in the bunch and I wouldn't have been able to go with them. I was spent. I went and sat down in the infield and wasn't able to get up again for a good five minutes. I sat and stared and didn't think about anything.
Now I think about it whenever I'm suffering out on the road. Whenever I'm training and I'm all by myself in the middle of fucking nowhere with filthy douchebags buzzing me in their V6 utes and I still have an hour to go and it's absolutely killing me. I think about putting the pressure on the pedals and how, in that 60 lap race, there came a time when I simply couldn't do it any more. I think about how I could've shown all of them - the sell-out Austral crowd, representatives of four or five different state institutes of sports, Schultzy, Matt Keenan, everyone - that some dirty fixie hipster with a bad back and dodgy tattoos could take it to the best in the country. But I didn't. So I push harder.