2018 West Cycles Classic

I enjoyed last years ride so much I had no hesitation in signing up again for another year.

I had a massive support through both private and corporate sponsors so a big thank you to every one that chipped in.

Once again I hadn’t spent a great deal of time on the bike so wasn’t sure how I’d go. I had been in training in the gym with Phil and Skinny and their crew at Vanguard Fitness so I knew I had leg strength I just wasn’t sure I had any endurance. Then with  2 weeks to go I had competed in a team of 4 in the jetblack 24hr race on our home track at Rydal and felt surprisingly good on the bike.

With an early start Wednesday morning I arrange to catch up with me old mate Fruz to crash at his place on Tuesday night. Pulling up to his house he greets me at the car.

Do you need to put anything inside.

Nope

Good your driving, we’re going out for my sisters birthday.

Now I know Lindal but hadn’t seen much of here since we left school Mummble30mummble years ago.

Anyhoo a fun night was had….

leaving Fruz’s around 5:30am I meet up with the support team at the helicopter base at Broadmeadow and we help finish loading the trailers before getting a lift up to Raymond Terrace for the start of the ride

Day 1 Raymond Terrace to Bulahdelah 97km

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To be honest this is all a bit of a blur. Cruisey riding with a great bunch of people  through gorgeous back country. There was laughing and antics and a lot of fun. My legs were holding up well. My sit bones, not so much.

Now it’s not a race. That gets stressed often. Almost as often as it get ignored.

Of course there were little sprints and climbs and descents where bragging points were earned. Saying that it’s all in good fun and egos are kept in check.

Every 2hrs or so it’s time for a drinks break where not only do you get to fill your water bottle up but they shovel fruit and cakes and biscuits into you.

While I’d raked up 110km in the 24hr that was in 16km stints with a couple of hours of resting, massage, and foam roller recovery in between. This was the longest steady ride I’ve done in ages and too be honest it’s a bit of a blur.

Luckily the scenery and company kept me distracted. We roll into Bulahdelah and check in. I was bunking with Scotty B again this year and we stowed our gear then wasted no time in hitting the pool for a cool down and nibblies with the gang.

Refreshed we joined Katie and Hilary at the pub for pre diner drinks. the others dribble in a few at a time over the next hour or so and we make our way out to the beer garden where we are greeted by a spectacular Sunset.
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Life doesn’t get much better.

Until diner, that is. Where the meals are true country pub meals. Big, hearty and delicious. Ploughmans inn. Winner.

Out the front Kerrie cracks out the guitar and a sign-along ensues. the hat was passed around and the locals chip in a few coins and notes for requests.

I’d love to stay but I can’t keep my eyes open…

Day 2. Bulahdelah to Boomerang Beach 59km

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Up at the crack of dawn where our handlers already have breakfast laid out. Fruit, cerials, toast, yogurt and bacon and eggs. It really is a blissful 5 days.

We’ll roll out steadily and keep the group together. We should get to the ferry in time for coffee but we all need to be on the same one and that’s the first one once every one gets there. Remember it’s not a race.

Yeah sure Bernard.

We roll out of Bulahdelah and turn on to a little back road…. Lets say the natives were restless as the pace goes up straight away the peloton gets stretched out.  There’s 5 or 6 of us in the lead group. There is a bit of chop and changing and we all have a go on the front. We hit the dirt and the pace goes up again. I drop off and find myself in no mans land. I figure there’ll be steep hill down to the ferry where I’ll be able to catch back up. I was wrong.

Up in front Rebok has fallen off the pack. I push hard to bridge across to him. Jump on behind for a bit, mate

I’m done I’m happy just to roll.

Foxer.

Not long after he take the lead and the pace is back on. We roll into the ferry not too long after the lead 4 who are all ordering coffee. The rest of the bunch are not too far behind.

I have a confession to make, I’m not a coffee drinker. But am happy to fill the water bottle and rest up while we wait for the ferry.

Cross the ferry we go and just up the road is the official drinks break.

Next we are into the National Park and across Mungo Brush.

It’s a long stretch of flat dirt. Rebok , who had played tail end charlie on day one, has a bit of energy to burn and shots off in the lead. Pete and I took the lead of the rest of the group at a more sensible pace. But it starts creeping up.

By the time we hit the rolling ̶h̶i̶l̶l̶s̶, I mean undulations I’m feeling a bit spent and I drop of the lead group as the bulls charge onward.

We regroup a few kms later at the end of the dirt. A nasty pinch climb greets us then its a great run down the hill to our school stop.

Now speeds in excess of 70km/hr may or may not  have been reached. There may or may not have been some rubbing of bars at that speed…..

Anyhoo we roll into the school. Each year they pick a little school along the way and give them a quick speil about the helicopter service and bike safety. It’s a bit of fun and the kids get a bit of a kick out of it.

After that a game of soccor with the kids provided much hilarity.

Recess over and we roll out again. and those undulations keep coming. I was joined by Jodie and we reeled in first Bob and then Kerrie on the final flat stretch and we all rolled into our next night accomadation ready for lunch and then the beach, beers diner and sign-alongs.

Day 3. Boomerang Beach to Coomba Park and return. KOM day.

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Each year 1 day is set aside as KOM day. KOM is “King of Mountain”. A hill is selected and all pretence of “it’s not a race” is thrown out the window.

Up hills have never been my strenght and I gallantly offer to do my duty as tail end charlie on KOM day. Up here for think’n’.

So yep there would be hills today but first a nice flat pedal along the lakes edge out to Coomba Park for morning tea.

The pace was much more sensible. For some reason the guys who had been setting the pace the last 2 days were all cruising along mid to rear pack… I wouldn’t like to accuse the boys and girls of saving legs for the hills especially since I copped out myself…

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Anyhoo it was a lovely ride along the lake to a picturesque picnic spot for morning tea and then onto the dirt and into the hills. The KOM would ride 100m over 1km. Standard grade for the ‘Go but there were 3 or 4 nasty hills prior to getting there. Up the first one and down the other side nice and sensible.. sort of.

A while later we come to a downward stretch full of big kicky waterbars. Hitting the first couple I start to regret volunteering for the last rider job. I hang back a bit and have a bit of fun on the next lot. Much fun.

Then we get to the base of THE climb. and stop for a drinks break just to make sure we are all cooled down before tackling it 🙂

The big guns take off and I’m happy to spin up in last place.

We regroup at the top there is a left fork that goes to a lookout and a right fork that goes down the other side of the hill.

The offer is made for anyone who wants to go to the lookout they can. 9 riders move into the left fork.  Riders who would come to be known as the evil 9 (later softened to the Naughty 9)

So, says ride captain Bernard. Does any one want to go to the lookout?

No hands went up. Nothing was said. But 9 riders are pointing left. Well OK onward Bernard leads the pack down. Except 9 riders go left.

No I have a dilema. As tail end charlie I’m mean to saty at the end of the pack do I go right or left or wait here.

Ah Wiggsie is with the 9 and he pre-rode the loop. The 9 are all strong riders, and we are near the top of the hill the lookout can’t be much further anyway (Except to get there the road descended back to the foot hils and climbed the next peak over….)

I opt to follow the main pack. Fun fast descent I set up for the first sweeping righthanded but note skid marks and Scott standing off to the side of the road.

Shit are you OK. Yeah it was Bolto but he got back on and kept going, had a bit of blood spurting out of him.

OK.

A couple of hundred meters later, at the bottom of the hill, there’s Bolto on the ground in some discomfort. 1 finger is obviously dislocated and he has lot of skin off his knee.

Our medic pulls up and goes into action.

I’m just goign to pop that finger back in.

The howl of a thoughsand banshees being slaughtered…. I have no idea how he didn’t faint. I almost did. But finger remained stubbonly dislocated.

That’s no good I’ll give you a block for the pain then we’ll need to get you to hospital…

Out comes a needle big enough to tranquilise Hannible and all his elephants. More screaming.

With Bolto packed up into the ute. we continue on. Mindful that the ute was behind us with the injured rider in it the pace was up.

Look at the treeeeeeees. Called Hilary. No one is paying attention to the beautiful surroundings. or some such.

She had a point. We were in regrowth Blackbutt forest and it was beautiful.

A photo was called for.

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Hilary in the forest

We get to the drinks break. Ride Captain looks concerned. He makes sure Bolto is Ok then Notes 9 riders are missing and has a small tantrum….

Now with the work he does for the ride I’d make him immune to fines and reverse awards but where’s the fun in that. Dummy spit award nomination.

The ute leaves to take Bolto into get some scans (Turns out a cracked knuckle. He put a bit of ducktape on it and completed the the next two days riding like a champion. they breed them tuff in Pacific National)

Bernard gets a text… A photo of the Nine on the lookout. I have proof of who they are for fines!!!! .

Anyhoo the naughty nine eventually roll into the drinks spot.

Mount up. Calls ride captain. You’ve 2 minutes and we’re leaving….

The rest of the day was uneventful. Back at Boomerang beahc for lunch then beach, beers, pizza and sign alongs

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Day 4 Boomerang Beach to Nelsons bay via the Tea Tree ferry Buddy Day

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Buddy day is a bit of a highlight of the 5 days. Riders are paired up for the day. The idea being you are not meant to go more than 2m from your buddy all day.

The group is split into strong riders and not so strong riders and a “random draw” pairs them up, um randomly. Except ride captain is open to bribary.

After Hilary rode in a Centennial jersey for KoM day her Pacific National commrades decided to punish her by organising for her to be paired up with Wiggsie. Wiggsie is one of our strongest riders. Despite Hilary’s protests she isn’t too shabby either. They’d be a strong pair but she’d get pushed out of her comfortzone a bit.

Last year I snuck into the not so strong riders hat and got paired up wth Beddo. It’s not a race… but we won.

This year they were sure I got put in the strong riders hat and I got paired with Rosemary. I didn’t know her real well but what I did kw of her she didn’t strike me as a weak riders.

We roll out of camp nice and early.

I’m happy for you set the pace. If you want to have a crack go for it. If not I don’t mind

I’m happy just to ride, I’m not competitive. lies Rosemary. I’m a little slow on the hills. Yeah right.

We roll up the first little pinch mid pack. Get to the second  hill and Rosemary looks at me with a checky grin. Lets go. and off she shoots like a rabbit.

I only just manage to hold her wheel to the top of the hill and get in front to lead her down the other side. I’m rolling, not knowing how confident she is on descents. As fast as you can go. she calls.

Righto.

Jill and Rebok are a super team and are well and truly off the front.

2 other strong teams Wiggsie and Hilary and Bernard and Al are in second and third. Not that it’s a race.

We get Bernards wheel and Al drags the lot of us across the gap to Hilary and Wiggsie. another pinchy hill and at the top Al and Bernard jump.

Go go go! calls my non-competitive buddy. Gravity is my friend when the front wheel is pointing down and we hit the bottom of the hill in second place. Not that it’s a race.

Some long flats punctuated with undullations comes next. I lead out. Tell me if it’s too fast or slow.

I’ll yell “Flynny” if I need to you slow down and just “Go” if it’s ok to go faster.

Um there was more “Go” than “Flynny” being called.

Rosemary takes the lead to give me a rest, not that she is pushing a great deal of wind. Being a fair bit slender than I am… Up the next hill. Wiggsie and Hiliry were closing.

First stop is at the bottom of this one… Not that it is a race.

Rosemary crests the top and I take the lead again and we descend like demons to screetch into the drinks spot in second. High fives. Not that we were racing. It’s not a race. Well unless you come first, second or third.

First and second teams get handy capped and have to start at the rear of the pack for the next section..

Back onto the dirt and we are happy to roll with the bunch. It’s not a race.

We reverse the Mungobrush section of day 2 with a detour down to shelly beach for a drinks break. What a pretty spot.

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Jill cooling her legs and smiling prettily

Usually this little camp ground is accessable by boat so pretty quiet. I felt a bit sorry for the cmapers who were enjoying a lazy Saturday morning in the little haven when 35 nutty mountian bikers roll in with their support crew….

Not sure who won that stage, probably Jill and Rebok. But it’s not a race so who cares really.

Back out and we roll down to Bommbah Ferry.

Ok final stage for the day will be a 27km flat stretch of tar between here and Tea Gardens. We have plenty of time. We need to be on the 2:30 ferry. Let keep the group together. If we sit around 22km/re that will give us plenty of time. Once we see the 50km/hr sign there’s 3km to go and you can all go for it. Not that it is a race…

Yeah nice plan.

About 1km in and the pace creeps up to high 20s.

Come on, says, the Wigg. No. replied Hilary.

They go anyway.

They get a gap. The pace hits the mid 30s.

They come back.

Theres some funny too and fro between Wiggsie and Hilary.  It’s Buddy day. Says Hilary. There’s 2 buddies not just the 1…. They go again any way.

The peloton hit mid 30s. Hilary and the Wiggs get reeled in and fall to the back of the pack. Just behind us. They look spent. They were foxing.

How far now. Says Hilary. Whatever Wiggsie told her she felt it was time. Lets go!

The roar to the front again. Everyone is expecting them to be reeled in. They keep going.

I wasn’t any where near the front. I wish I was because if I was there I could tell you how the pace crept up and up. If only I had seen I could relate how the almighty hand of Jarred, by far the strongest rider in the pack, came to rest on his partners back. His partner being Kari, the elven pixie of a pocket rocket who was about to be shoved into warp speed 9.

Be this stage I had well and truly lost touch with the pack. Rosemary and I were now dead last, not that it matters it’s not a race, otherwise I might have seen the big fella, one hand on the bars 1 hand on his partners back, blow the rest of the peloton apart has he screamed up up 40km/hr..

In the end Hilary and Wiggsie held on and took over all honours. Well riden and smart. Bloody oath it’s a race!

Lunch, St paddies day beer at the pub while waiting the ferry and then a nice cruise over to Nelsons Bay.

Dress up night, Australiana. But what happens in the Bay stays in the bay.

Day 5. Nelsons Bay to Broadmeddow

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Some hang overs to ride off. Day 5 would be pretty much all tar. Some nice back roads through beautiful country. but also some long stretches in to the wind.

To be honest it’s a bit of as blur. So much so I forgot to push start on strava and missed the frst 20km

Fun was had. Suffering was done and it was a releif to roll into each rest spot.

So there you have it. Another great year on the West Cycles Classic. Thanks to the generous support of my family and mates I managed to raise over $1700. As a group that figure was up around $40k and when all the corporate sponsorship rolls in it should be over $100k. Thanks all.

A big shout out to the team that put this together especially our handlers Annette and Steph for orgaining every thing so we just have to get up, ride and have fun. The drivers, Garry and Stephen,  Bronny and her medical team and a whole hepa of others I’m forgetting. Bernard for keeping us in track which must be like herding cats through hot water and all the riders for the fun, games and laughter.

 

I’ll be back for sure

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