Monday, 17 March 2014

Geelong 3 Hour - Gazebo without the relaxation.

The GMBC is a proud and vigorous club. They run a bunch of races in their You Yangs stomping ground but only a and few that fizz and pop more than a round of their very popular Gazebo series. Its a roll call of all those kids that shave down and oil up and get out the mad-skillz over trail that Victorian mountain biking would almost call its ceremonial heart.

As such it was a packed starting chute that I found myself in for this, the last round of the series. It was straining with talent, most of it up the terrifying front of this group - with the likes of Adrian Jackson and Sam Chancellor trying to out psyche the very serious Murray Spink. Not to mention just about every other cat with a number swinging from their bars and a race-face north of the neck line.

And I've been there many times, but I never fail to be surprised by how flat-out XC races start. There is no commissar waving a doily from the top of a red Skoda tempting the race to roll into its climax - no way, its the equivalent of firing 10 or 11 salvos of human cannonballs, all at once.
Halfway up the main straight my heartrate was nearing critical levels - and not looking like it was going to have the chance come down.
Early efforts - A grade reminding me where I am
A long line of riders hit the singletrack. I had stuck with what resembled the front group (about half of the pack) and pretty quickly found myself settled in. A little too settled as it turned out. About three wheels up a dude fast enough to sprint with A Grade was showing some fine B grade technical skills, holding up a little-too-polite line of meandering spandex.
By the time passing was opportune, the fast group was away and much work was required to cover the real estate between me and the last of those wheels. 

But I set about it. The course was relatively flat, bereft of 7 km strips of climbing instead swapping them out with the beautiful sweeping uphill berms that when hit hard enough still made you whoop, even while you were pooped. Once on the top of the hill we bombed down through Lactic Acid, one of my favourite ever descents. It is fast, really fast - with slippery small-gravel and stretcher spec rock gardens at the top ending with sweeping berm-jump-berm combinations at the bottom that would make a rider throw mad tail whips, had they not had timing attached to their lines.

The race progressed and I was starting to drag in some kids. The spaces between riders in short A grade races are always so much longer than enduro races, and each rider I caught felt like a little serious moment. I eventually caught an old Kung Fu associate Adam Elford who was recovering from illness (half dead and still fast enough to be at the sharp end of A grade) and ever so slowly I was reeling in veteran hard-man Tim Jamieson. I got to him with some effort and even got by old TJ, but shake him off? A totally different proposition. I attacked a little, spun up and out of a couple of corners, bombed a couple of technical descents but not enough to pop the old bugger. He occasionally took his turn at the front and probably threw his version of a half-hearted attack as well but coming into laps 7 and 8 we were still suckered together.

As the race ticked away we'd crawled into the top ten - and as we near the finish line at 2:55 odd we chalk and cheesed. Strange voices were rationalizing the idea of finishing now, holding back for the Mt Buller race, saving my legs, being safe with my preparation, and in a rare moment, I believed them. I sat up - and Tim, he took off. It took about four guys to roll past me, uncomfortably parked under my marquee before I got back on my bike. 

With clear trail ahead I took off, to reduce some of my losses, only to have them revisit when my favourite descent issued an invoice for all the fun it had given me.
I hit a rock garden a little too hot, burped my front tire and ended up with a dribbling flat that tracksided me about 2 kilometers later. To his credit Jimmy Lefebvre - who was running hot in B grade rescued me with a CO2 but by that stage my top 8 finish had swelled to 12th.

Still - as far as prep races go it totally rocked. There are few things as fun as whipping through golden trail being pushed and pulled along at race pace and for that I'm very grateful to the GMBC for basically being bloody awesome, at almost everything. Props to Glenn Tournier, an old 3 Peaks colleague who smashed it to win B grade and to AJ, Sam Chancellor and Murray Spink for showing us how its done. Results are here and GMBC stuff is all here

Thanks to Cycles Galleria for their love and attention pre-race and to all the guys on the day for helping out with the marquee and other infrastructure. Racing rocks.

Photos coming, when I find them.

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