From this point on I couldn't really get past the riders, only the ones being dropped,so was caught in with the convoy of riders and following vehicles.You had to be really careful as some of the riders who had been dropped on the climb were bombing the descent and weaving through the cars getting back into the race.
The road soon became pretty much a one lane,quite narrow and if another car came in the opposite direction you had to get 2 wheels right off the road.With riders cutting corners all over the place, it's a little dangerous I reckon.This was the status quo for the next 30-40km and the good thing was Matt was still ahead somewhere.I figured I'd seen him, and a few other riders,go off the front of the main group I had been following.
When we hit Mt Baw Baw proper I could instantly see riders getting dropped left, right and centre as the road appears to go straight up. Eventually after passing a reasonable number of weary riders I came behind a group of 4, containing Matt Clark.the other riders in this group were Blake Hose (Geelong CC),Jason Spencer (Blackburn CC),Robbie Hucker (Bendigo & District CC. I thought I was close to the front of the race but couldn't see the lead car so wasn't sure at this point how many riders were ahead.Trying to decide whether to drive to the finish to get some shots there I could see Matt was struggling to stay with the little group he was with.Now I have only met Matt a couple of times so was not sure if he would appreciate my coaching,or maybe encouragement, is a better way of putting it. But I decided to stay behind him and do my best to keep him pushing and focused.So I put my windows down and kept yelling encouragement for the next 4km. He hung on to the four ro a while but slowly started losing ground.One of the other riders,Robbie Hucker, also dropped off which left 2 riders ever so slowly moving further ahead.
It was tough going and on the steepest parts the GPS in my car was reading about 10kmh, and these guys are the best of A Grade. Eventually the kilometers clicked over and with end in sight I was directed into a parking area.
Jumping out of my car the first thing I had to do was find a tree.Relieved,I headed for the finnish to find out the results. Matt had finished 5th behind some of the best climbers in the country.He had recently won the Mansfield to Mt Buller race ahead of a quality field so was expected to do well. The winner for the 3rd time in 4 attempts was Nathan Earle (Hobart Wheelers CC) who apparently had only been back on the bike 6 weeks after breaking his ankle. Full results available here. Also below is the Strava segment of the race that you may find interesting.Also check out my image gallery from the race.