Friday, May 18, 2012

Race Report - Phillip Island Grand Prix Support Races

Words by Soawyer...

Hi all, long time reader first time writer here at TDR, endeavouring to bridge the void between HellKrew and aforementioned compatriots.

Awoke to a fantastic day in the Northern suburbs and was pretty excited at the prospect of racing my bike on a race track, at the beach, in the sun. As the morning wore on it became pretty obvious this would not come to fruition.

The team meeting place had been decided on as Proud Mary in Collingwood because
A. Gene works there and we’d likely be looked after
B. As the hipster-est team in club racing it seemed fitting.

I was last to arrive in the team bus finding Matt, Gene and Steve itching to get caffeinated, we took up residence at one of the outdoor tables and discussed tactics for the day (read. BMX). After pumping ourselves full of stimulants we loaded up the bikes and hit the road. It seemed a little early but we’d already seen the bike of the day, Bianchi MTB in world champ colourway seemingly cutting laps round the cafe.
More in-depth tactical discussion followed on the drive down (read. vintage motocross).

Upon reaching the  track to catch the end of some unimportant teams race the severity of the weather had become quite apparent. 137 starters 36 finishers. regardless we entered, numbered and embro’d up for the support races. Matt, Steve and I all being in B while Gene looked after C grade. It would be the first outing in B grade for Steve and I so nerves were high, we went for a warmup lap, track was wet but still grippy enough, wind was atrocious. Rules for the day would be position, position, position and don’t let yourself get pushed onto the rumble strips or grass.

As we rolled back into the pits after our sighting lap facts would say that the wind picked and blew a marque over right as we rolled under it, however I’m pretty convinced it was the rising vortice of RAD which picked up the flimsy shelter and threw it at some guys Mercedes. Following this we lost jackets, weathered another downpour and gridded up. Due to entries A and B grade had been combined and the race shortened was to be around 70km now.

We rolled out happy to be moving again the first few laps was quite civil a few small moves going off the front but no real commitment. We had some unspoken rivals in the bunch in team Canard who had apparently been waiting for us to make an appearance in B, pride was at stake. A few more laps of the same interspersed with some occasional action from the few A graders in the bunch. Finally at about 10 to go (of 15) 3 guys got off the front one of them an A grade guy, a Leongatha CC and one from our new rivals team Canard. The bunch let them get out to about 1-200m but always keeping them insight Team Saint Cloud did our work but let it be largely. Then on the back straight after pulling a turn I looked under my shoulder for the next rider coming through to see day light, I’d rolled about 10-15m off the front without realizing it. Looking up the road I saw the break nearing the “climb” (I feel silly saying that word after Bawbaw) about 100m up the road, it felt too early, but I went for it and caught the 3 escapees as they crested the hill. They seemed happy to have another face in the mix, we crossed the line with 9 to go, it was going to be a long day.

In the back of my mind I know we were in a pretty good position as Canard and ourselves were not likely to aggressively chase down a break they both had friends in and it would be up to the remainder of the bunch to get together and reel us in, in this weather I didn’t see anyone willing to do the lion’s share and get popped out the back. The next 5 laps passed without incident our small break working well together, trying to shelter from the wind always keeping an eye on the pursuing peloton. With 4 to go we lost the Canard boy this was not great news as I was sure they would work to bring the break back and turn it into a bunch kick. We all dug that extra little bit and kept talking to keep the morale up, I began to think about how I was to beat the two guys I was left with, A grade guy must’ve had about 30kg on me so I figured a drag race was pretty much out of the question, Leongatha guy was less worrying but had been pretty quiet the last few laps so might be a bit fresher. I decided to go on the climb drop them off my wheel and make them do their work into the wind hoping to wear them out a bit.

It didn’t work, I didn’t have as much left as I thought, they held on and we swapped a couple more short turns in the wind and wound up for a sprint ( I still feel I can run a faster sprint than I ride).

3rd overall 2nd in B grade, fkn stoked. Then to add to the stoke Duggan takes the bunch sprint for 3rd with Matt leading out and rolling in 5th.

Yet again a top day out racing, the weather really can’t dampen the feeling of achievement and exhaustion post race, ontop of that winnings paid for fuel and big M’s. Points all round. I am however starting to think that TDR should brand themselves as foul weather experts (read. In with a shot when most people aren’t stupid enough to come out racing)

Ed: Mad props to Brunswick's own Rachel Oakenfull for finishing her first road race in tough conditions. Oh and Gene for a strong ride also...

Post race photo after racing in the freezing cold, rain and gale force winds... Whatevs

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