Stage 1 – 147km from Point Danger to Mt. Warning
The first stage of the Battle on the Border started with a civil 10pm roll out. The first 15km or so was natural as we made our way from Point Danger to the outskirts of town where the flag was dropped and racing began. I spent my time in the neutral zone just rolling through the gears, checking brakes and watching nervous riders run into the back of other riders.
15km The PING PONG BAT was brought in and race proceedings begun. The normal early attacks lasted for 5km where we turned left and straight into some ‘small’ hills were the bunch started to string out and those who could climb continued attacking.
25km Team mate Ben Marshall when on the attack and managed to get into a group of about 12 riders over the top of the climb. We dropped down the other side of the winding descent and they increased the gap. A few kms later the peloton swallowed the break and the normal counter attacks began.
The Peloton was stretched out and then the Speed at the front would drop and the tail riders would get a rest and roll back to the main or the bunch. Not long after there was a crash after the first KOM where some of the front half of the peloton decided to continue to go straight ahead on an almost hairpin right hand corner. Coming into the corner you could hear the breaks squealing as riders were struggling to slow down on the wet and very bumpy section of road. An African Wildlife Safaris (AWS) rider started on the right side of me at the start of the corner and finished on the left side of me going straight ahead. I wasn’t sure what his plan was but it didn’t seem the best option so I continued down the decent and sat in the bunch.
Soon after a small break went up the road which seemed to be the flavor of the day with a small group of riders getting out to a 3 minute lead over the peloton.
85km the peloton kept moving along not letting the small break get too far out in front. I rolled around the bunch to have a chat to team mates Ben and Sam to see how they were feeling and if there was anything I could do to ease the mental burden of still having about 2hrs to ride.
95km The Break was brought back and the bunch rolled over the hills waiting for the next big move. About 5km later a group of nine riders got off the front including riders from Avanti Racing and Budget Forklifts. After making it over one of the more decisive climbs from last year edition of the tour the peloton had started to get smaller and the fast pace was starting to take a bit of a toll on some of the riders.
110km I had no idea if there was a break up the road due to me having a party (sitting on the back being lazy) at the back of the peloton for the past few kms. We rolled into Mulrwillumbah and passes through what looked to be the sugar cane fields where there was almost all of the Avanti racing team on the front setting the tempo.
The Next few kms as we completed a loop around Mulrwilumbah I called for water but the message from the coms car to the team car must of got lost in translation and I quickly made it back to the peloton as I was starting to use lots of energy.
We left the town and nearly had a head on with a stray unsuspecting motorist due to the police being caught in traffic trying to get backing in front of the race to make it safe for us again. Turning off the main road and onto the little back roads we were hit with a large amount of pot holes and not long after this there was a few flat tires.
130km I woke up and relised that there was a break up the road (not that I could really do anything about that). We made it over the final ‘little’ climb under the control of Avanti and then the next 10 or so km were pretty flat and starting to average speed of 53km along the flats as the scramble started to bring the break back.
The hard left corner approached and everyone made it through safe and over the narrow causeways as well. It was string out and I couldn’t see the front anymore as the peloton weaved around the corners leading into the final accent up Mt. Warning. Riders were dropping wheels and sitting up because the simply didn’t want to push any further knowing what was coming up so I just road around them know that I needed to be as close as I could get to the front (which was nowhere near the front).
I started the climb just sitting at my own pace and just slowly picked of riders one by one trying to be smooth (probably looked like I was having a fight with my bike like most rides were) .Finally the finish was in site, I looked down at my speedo to see 7.6km/h and relisted that’s about the same pace at what you could walk at so I should of just walked the last part of the climb because that would be faster.