Sydney, St Peters plays host to the annual Rapha Super Cross Race held in the heart of the city creating a picturesque backdrop for great event. As per normal the atmosphere was great with live music, plenty of food, good crowds, free coffee from the Rapha van and of course a beer garden to keep everyone entertained.
I drove down with my supportive girlfriend Tia the night before from Newcastle staying at my sisters apartment in St Leonards. After arriving on the Friday night after work we headed out for dinner and prepared food and drinks for the race the next day.
Saturday morning, I woke feeling great knowing that I had been putting in a lot of good hard training and was starting to see improvements from this. I was ready to see what my legs, heart and head were going to deliver over the 45 minute race. As the morning progressed from being warm to being stupidly hot and the sun feeling like someone had a low torch to your skin I had complete a number of practice laps. This year I had started using tubular tires with Stans sealant in them to stop the thorns and burs that I had to deal with in the previous edition. (Last year I had 7 flats in practice and 1 in the race). With no flats and plenty of grip the new course layout with a bit more climbing and technical descending was going to suit my riding and training. I signed on and got my race number after a bit of a hiccup in the entry system but that’s always going to happen when we all show up at once to sign on.
The race was pushed back about half an hour due to this entry system trouble which was good because I could go get a drink warm up and also change my tire pressure. I think that my tire had gone down in practice by about 3 psi so I upped the original race pressure by 2psi so that by the end of the race I would have maximum amount of grip and not feel like they were going to bottom out.
Race start – I was called up early and got on the front row and chose the high side of the track but not quite on the fence line as I didn’t want to get pushed into there. The countdown was on and the ‘Gong’ went off. It was a mad dash for the first corner and up the first climb on the start loop. I settled into about 5th wheel letting few unfamiliar faces take up the pace at the front knowing that this will hurt them latter. After about a lap I was up in second wheel sitting there following Garry making sure that he wouldn’t get a gap. We had a small group of about 6 starting to pull away consisting of the 2013 National Champion Allan Iacuone , Michael Crosbie, Garry Millburn, Tom Chapman, Ben Metcalf and Myself. The pace was set from the start and there was not much slowing down. I tried to stay close not giving an inch and saving energy in the headwind along the finish straight. Allan attacked Garry on the right side on the forth lap and I attacked on the left as we when up the main tarred climb on the course. This had a strong effect on Garry and put him in pain and started to drop the wheel a little. Michael came across and Tom dropped a few lengths back with Garry. When I saw this I knew it time to go as everyone was suffering and I wanted to make sure that everyone knew we were racing for 45 minutes and not the last 5 minutes.
Finally a group of three was away and Tom was sitting a few seconds off the back but just couldn’t close the gap. The lead swapped many time with everyone trying to get away and it was coming to the later stages in the race so I decided that I had to start lifting the pace and create some discomfort so I attacked every lap on any climb and didn’t ease up on the headwind straight I would get on my drops and tried to use any little gap I had gained on the decent to get away. I heard someone on the side line say with three laps to go that Allan (who was the only one left) was ‘in the box’ so I kept the pace high and attacked up the climb right from the bottom this time and in my big chain ring and this was the straw that broke the camel’s back and I had finally got away. It was a fine balancing act of keeping / extending my lead and not crashing or making a silly mistake.
The last lap had a good lead as Allan had blown out to 15 seconds giving me room to breathe. I enjoyed the last half of the la knowing that the hard work I had put in prior to the race had paid off and it was the best feeling ever. That is what motivates me to go out and train on those crappy days and what makes you do that one last effort when your all spent and done.
After the race the storm rolled in and it was chaotic the temperature went from 40 down to less than 20 and lighting was everywhere with wind and rain blowing what was left of the course away so we were lucky to get all that racing in even though the presentation was cancelled.
Thanks to Tia for coming and helping me out as well as all the Guys from the Focus Bikes Australia CX Team.
Photos By Beardy McBeard