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    The Grey County Road Race held in Thornbury and are the World Amateur Qualifiers. The race was held on a couple of large loops taking in a couple of testing climbs. A long course for those under 50 (153km) and a 112km for those older and the ladies.

    It was an early start, with a n 8am race time we left KW at 5 arriving around 7am at registration. The first person I see is Larbi, reminding me this is no E4 race and that things are going to be a lot tougher. I spent the previous day looking at the entry list, I’m pretty sure that WCC had the only E4 riders show and there was only a couple of E3 and M3 riders show, we were truly out of our comfort zone. Pinning my numbers on was the first time I have had any nerves this season. My main goal was to last as long as possible with the peloton knowing it was probably a matter of time before I went out the back.

    The race started off with a short neutral roll out. At the end of this we hit a steady climb not to long and the pace was relatively relaxed, but still enough for me to question my sanity. The first 3km had been uphill and I had already seen my heart rate climb seriously. I check in with Brian and Lance and we are all in the same place. The next 30 km remain relatively relaxed, a WOB rider goes off the front and no one really reacts. Sitting at the back the pace surges with lots of braking and accelerating but generally comfortable for all around. I see a couple more bridge up at some point, including Aaron Hamill. New to me was the time checks as the moto came back to tell us the gap from the peloton to the lead riders, its pretty casual as several riders come back for comfort breaks as I float around the back 3rd of the peloton.

    We hit the base of Epping, I’m fresh and comfortable expecting the screws to really be turned but it wasn’t the case. I’m near the back as I see Larbi moves up the left half way up, I grab his wheel and get myself further up the peloton just encase the pace raises and I need to slide back. As we approach the feed zone near the top I try to work my way across to the right knowing I need a feed before Lauren leaves for the alternate zone in the second loop. I’m alongside Brian as I feel a big touch of my rear wheel and hear a bunch of commotion. Checking my shoulder as a gap opens I then see a rider has cartwheeled over the side crash barrier, with Dickie telling me it was like a WWE wrestling move. I grab a feed knowing I’m good for a while. The pace increases and I close gaps as guys struggle to get onto the peloton with the increased pace and letting gaps open in the feed zone.

    We turn descend as I feel a little speed wobble, thankfully riding it out. We continue onto do another lap and the chatter is of how everyone is saving it for Scenic Caves. The pace is easy again onto the base of the climb. Making the mistake of being at the back of the peloton at the base of Epping the screws get turned. I follow a couple of strong wheels as gaps open all up the climb and last as long as possible. Dickie from Ciclowerks comes around me and shouts at his team mate to follow, and try to close a large split in the field. This wasn’t going to work for me as Dickie did his customary explosive jump, blowing his teammate off his wheel. I pass Brian and Lance up the climb and just hope I can find a small group to chase on at the top. I hit the top and have that group, but I just don’t have the legs to follow so sit to wait for the next group. The chase is on and there is around 8 of us working hard, I’m maxed out but know its my only shot of getting back to the lead group. We keep working and thankfully the descent lets me recover slightly. The group works really well and picks up another chase group. I was hoping this would help but it just disrupted the cohesion as guys were struggling to hold wheels or would refuse to work. I see the peloton and continue to really push on as around 5 of us pull the 16 up to the peloton.

    I’m 50 meters off the back and my work share starts to increase, much to my vocal annoyance I get a little push and some gratitude from one of the Fit-Win riders who had being doing a good chunk of the work with me. We bridge up to the peloton as I look up and realise that this is going to be short lived, we are literally at the false flat before the Redwing climb and my heart rate is still 180. I thank Patte for waiting and wave him off in the space of 1km, I did at least get to hear the time gap to the leading group of 4. The back end of the field is decimated, only a couple of those that I worked with in the chase managed to latch on, and even they ended up in a small chase group. I now end up in a lonely place with a 35km solo section where at times I couldn’t see anyone else. I’m trying to work but the legs just won’t put any power out and the heats aren’t helping. In this I grab much welcome feed from Lauren and continue on climbing Scenic Caves solo, passing a guy on the side of the road with cramps and hearing others screaming in agony behind me.

    By this point I’m just counting down the KM to the end of the race, after the descent I see a small group behind of around 7 so I sit up and wait after the descent. The group starts working with for around 10 minutes the pace is good and we pick a few others up. Then it slows as everyone is starting to really struggle and a 4 of us keep doing lengthy turns on the front. The last 10km was slightly uphill and at this point I went to the front and just road as steady as possible, I expected others to come around but then I look back and the group is down to 4 of us. I get thanked for the work as go to pull off but then realise it will just get slower as we are all done, so I go straight back to the front figuring I just want off the bike by this point.

    The race was by far the hardest I had done with plenty of climbing and heat. Got home to realise that the climb I got dropped on and subsequent chase resulted in an average Heart rate of 180 for 50 minutes, explaining the lack of riding afterwards. The course was tough challenging and a lot of fun.

    I finish around 22 minutes down with Lance and Brian coming in just behind me. Scott had another good ride finishing 10th in his age group. Kari was second in her category and Kelly won! Gaelen was 3rd in his category. Others riding for WCC include Patte, Kieth, Blake, with several members representing other teams.



    Way to go, Rob! I really enjoyed reading this which captured the flavour of a challenging race from someone not at the lead of the pack. Real inspiration for a struggling beginner like me — not that I aspire to compete at races like this (!) but still I can relate and apply your determination to my rides, striving to exceed my PRs.


    Mark W

    Thanks for posting the report Rob. Great read. Maybe next year I’ll be in good enough shape to attempt and survive a portion of this race.


    Keith Peck

    Kelly, Kari, Blake and I did the ‘short’ course of 110.3km (plus 2km of neutral roll out.)

    This involved a single loop with the Epping climb, then the Scenic Caves loop, and back to the finish.

    The length of the climbs are what did me in.

    I captured my entire ride on video…
    YouTube Grey County Road Race short course

    The first hour was at a pace that I found was rather easy. Then you get to see Kelly riding away with the leading pack as I slow and loose touch part way up the Epping climb.

    After failing to hold the pace up Epping I edited the video by speeding up a lengthy section where I rode most of the way with one other rider. That rider won her age group. She was good to lead on the climbs, while I was good on the flats and downhill sections.

    We made it to about 5km before the Scenic Caves climb on our own, when a group that included Kari caught us.

    I revert to normal speed for this chunk of the video. Scenic Caves proved once again that I need to loose about ten pounds, so part way up the video gets sped up once more.

    After the top of Scenic Caves I was riding with a few other riders, but I spent a lot of time on the front once again.

    Three of us split off the front of our group of about ten riders with just under 10km to go. Then I lost contact with the other two on the last uphill grind of the day with 5km to go.

    The last 3km is a descent to the finish. I did this section at normal video speed as it goes by quickly enough.

    Room for improvement for next year!

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