That would all change however when we hit the Skyline Road climb.
Four of the C Grade bunch,Key,Slingsby,Stringer,Hyde, and Amy Bradley from the women's A Grade group, managed to gap the rest of us initially, but after delving into the "suitcase of courage" 3 more of us,Howard,Everard and myself managed to ride across and make contact with the front group about two thirds of the way up the climb.The further the climb went the better I felt and we all crested the major part of the climb in our small group.There was no sign of other riders behind us and knowing where the KOM point was I put the hammer down.After a glance over the shoulder, and seeing only empty road, gave encouragement that I may be able to get the KOM for our group.I was disappointed when passing the KOM sign there was nobody there so my attack had been for nothing but it felt good.
At this point the decent had started and I love descending,it takes me back to the days of riding my 1982 900SS Ducati in the mountains around Bright.I could sense another rider on my shoulder, so without really thinking about it tried picking the best lines and keeping off the brakes as much as possible.It was great fun and I only wish I knew the road better so as to be able to really lay into the corners.By the time we reached the bottom I was alone again but was soon joined by Slingsby and Stringer.Our little trio rolled a few turns together but were eventually joined by the balance of our climbing group minus Chris Howard.Bugger,Howie is a good friend and I hadn't given any thought to the fact descending is not his strong point.Talking with him after the race, he had to come to a virtual standstill on the descent, trying to avoid another rider who had taken the wrong line into a corner.As he's quite experienced and we'd of had our 3 Wang riders in the bunch that would of been handy.
This was not to be however,with our group riding strongly into a head wind there was nothing to do but keep rolling turns.
After the climb, it's around another 40 km until the finish and our group worked pretty well for most of it.The young riders were pulling through pretty hard causing the bunch to surge which made it tough at times.I ended up saying to young Key that if he wanted me to come around him at the front then not to pull through so hard.This helped, and made life easier for me at least.We had one rider sitting on the back of the group, not contributing, which was a little concerning but I wasn't about to make a big deal out of it.That pretty much remained the Status Quo for the remainder of the race.There was a little excitement when my rear derailleur and somebodies front wheel came together in a hell of a clatter which apparently nearly caused a fall.I didn't position myself well near the finish and was caught behind at the roundabout which is around 300metres from the finish.Not that it would of made that much difference as the young trio bolted to take the first 3 places.Replaying the finale in my head the only way I could have made a difference is to have tried to attack with about 1km to go and hit the roundabout first.But it had been a tough race and after Saturdays club event I didn't have the legs anyway.The young riders deserved their results and all have a bright cycling future ahead of them.Amy Bradley came in with us in the front group so taking out the Women's A Grade race.
Men's C grade
1. 52 KEY, WILLIAM1:59:001:59:00Ballarat/Sebastopol C C
2. 53 SLINGSBY, THOMAS1:59:00stPreston Cycling Club Inc
3. 51 STRINGER, MICHAEL1:59:00stBlackburn Cycling Club Inc
4. 84 HYDE, TRENTON1:59:00stWangaratta Cycling Club Inc
5. 57 REECKMAN,ANTHONY1:59:00stWangaratta Cycling Club Inc
6. 56 EVERARD, CRAIG1:59:00stBlackburn Cycling Club Inc
7. 55 WEBBER, VAUGHAN2:04:455:44Blackburn Cycling Club Inc
8. 29 HOWARD, CHRIS2:04:485:47Wangaratta Cycling Club Inc
9. 54 O'SULLIVAN, CRAIG2:06:307:29Blackburn Cycling Club Inc
10. 28 JEHU, NICHOLAS2:09:3810:37Wellington CC
11.50 WOODING DREW2:21:0622:06Blackburn Cycling Club Inc
Full results here.
Read about Damian McDonald here.
Thanks to the Blackburn Cycling Club for organising the event and all the helpers and volunteers who make these events possible.
Also the Wangaratta Cycling Club had a large involvement in the day bringing Damian's Race(Under 17 men) across from Wangaratta.