Well today’s most used word was SAND and we were warned about this in the rider briefing.
11:30am – We found ourselves on the start line. I was on the second row as I wasn’t a top ten ranked rider. Dam #16. The riders slowly pushed forward as the countdown began then we were off. But this was a much steadier pace as we were under neutral for the first kilometer as we made our way through the streets, Then the (Burton Toyota FJ Cruiser – Event Sponsor) took off and it was on. Straight away Jason Lowndes from Team Torq was on the front and lifted the pace to 45kmh. It started to string out and everyone was single file trying to get a wind break.
4km – The first climb was ahead and what looked to be Andy Blair was on the front and no slowing down as we entered the gates and started the accent. I started the climb in the top 15 and riders were going everywhere, I don’t think that they had rode out and looked at this climb before the start as they were struggling to find a line and get grip as it was a very rocky and sandy surface. I passed riders when I had every opportunity to, Then we started the decent down the other side. A bit of a gap had formed and I and two other riders chased to close the gap back to the leading 7. We closed the gap and sat on the back for a bit as we got our breath back.
8km – We were racing through the streets sitting on speeds of 40kmh + with only about 10 riders left in the leading bunch. We had a few kilometers of tar before ducking back into the bush and the speed had dropped and a group of riders joined to make the ‘‘peloton’’ 18 strong.
12km – Everyone was by themselves with gaps everywhere. Riders we starting to try and form small groups and chase the leader Andy Blair. I closed the gap to Dylan Cooper and rode with him for a while as we made our way through the very sandy trails before the hard sandy climb.
14.8km – New next 200 meter were aptly named the vertical Beach and this was marked with a sign saying ‘’The Wall’’. This section was the sandiest piece of track I have ever seen and not elite rider could make it up. They would only ride maybe 50 meters of it and they had to get off and push their bikes up. The average gradient was 25% and your legs could tell you that too. Once I reached to top I was happy to get back on my bike as that felt better than climbing this sand hill.
15km – I could see Andy at the top of the ‘’Vertical Beach’’ when I was at the bottom ad I knew that there was a few groups of rides in-between us so I chased for the next 10km trying to close the gap to a group of three riders consisting of Ben Forbes, Shaun Lewis and Brendan Johnson.
25km – I was starting to get close and overtime it would close a bit then they would gain a little bit until finally I got some momentum and carried it through a very long sandy section and made contact with the back of their group. As I done the Brendan made a move and started to force a gap over the other two riders and this left us to be a group of three.
30km – It was much easier being in a small group as you could swap turns at the front and get a bit of a rest sitting on and following the other riders line. We turned left and then looked down a very long (3km) and straight fire road where you could see riders in the distance but they could be minutes ahead still. We continued to roll turns knowing that there is no point in attacking each other as we weren’t going to let each other go this close to the end.
34km – I was following Shaun down a decent and then he jumped across the tracks down into a bit of a dip which came as a bit of a surprise to me and for some reason I thought I was going to crash and I put the brakes on and this created a bit of a gap the Ben passed me and we both over cooked the left hand sandy corner at the bottom this gave us with about a 5 second gap to Shaun in front.
35km – Ben had made it to Shaun but I was starting to struggle as he had lifter the pace trying to put a gap in-between himself and I. about a kilometer later I joined back on which I don’t think they were too happy to see.
37km – 1km to go and Ben had attacked and Shaun followed I was starting to feel the pinch from not drinking enough prior in the race. (Lesson learnt). They both sprinted for 4th and 5th respectively as I came in for 6th. Line honors was taken out by Andy Blair with Chris Hamillton and Brendan Johnson rounding out the podium.
All in all it was a great race and I finished 17 seconds behind third place (which I didn’t know what place I was even racing for until someone told me) would like to say a quick Thank you to My mum for taking the time of work to drive me around. Focus Bikes Australia for producing the best bike for me to ride. Breakaway Cycles for getting my bike ready for the race and the Event staff and volunteers of Port to Port
One of the best things about being at home for a big race is that you can wash your bike properly and get it looking good for the the next stage.