Where oh where has my 17 minutes gone?

Too much chocolate, too many Coopers, not enough training, hot and humid conditions and bugger-all group work were some of the reasons I couldn’t get my time down low enough this year.

My aims were clearly stated; to beat my 2009 time of 6:52 or, at the very least, to crack the 7 hour mark. Unfortunately I failed to do either… bugger. But what a wonderful day I had regardless.

The absolute highlight was seeing my 12 year old son Jack complete his first Alpine Classic event by finishing the 72 kilometre challenge from Bright to the top of Mt. Buffalo and back. Jack did it with ease and I was lucky enough to catch the big smile on his face with a loud “Hi Dad!” as he descended through his last kilometres; me traveling in the opposite direction just beginning the agony of my last climb at the 135k mark… no big smile on my face.

Apart from the other 1000 competitors, Jack completed his ride without the company of anyone he knew. He climbed strongly, descended safely and finished with a smile on his face. Hopefully this will be the first of many Alpine Classics for him and I can’t help wondering how many years it will be before he smashes me around the longer courses.

So – back to my ride. Click on this or the image (right) to view the details of my 2012 Alpine Classic 200km.

It’s the first time I’ve ever ridden this course slower than I have any other year. This was my 12th – and each year I’ve ridden faster and faster. I do concede that when I rode the 6:52 I said to myself and others that I didn’t think I could ever ride it quicker. I now suspect I was correct.

Yesterday was brutal. I’ve ridden the Alpine Classic 200k in 44 degrees but I have never ridden it in such humidity. Our trip out to the bottom of the first climb was slower than other years (due to bugger-all willing assistance) and I had absolutely no help on any of the flatter sections (which is always just a matter of chance).

I should mention one very willing assistant. Gus Gollings put himself in the hurt-box in the first 20ks to get a number of his mates (including me, Brenton and David Baker) to the base of the climb in best time. Thanks mate. You did a lot of work there on your own – knowing you would probably suffer for it later. As it turned out, it was probably a good move since you only had to do about 100k! ; ) (Gus had a fatal mechanical so to speak, at the base of Falls Creek on his return – cutting his day short).

On the first drop of the day chasing Brenton, David and about 10 others

Brenton, Dave and I found ourselves within the top ten in a stong climbing group up the initial sections of Falls Creek. Once the climbing stepped up a bit I couldn’t hold on to the others but still managed to get to the summit by about 8:55am. I was very happy with that, as it put us in good stead for a sub-7hr total. In hindsight it probably made me a little bit too subconsciously cocky. I possibly took the pressure off myself through some sections I otherwise wouldn’t have.

I had not seen Brenton since near the top of Falls and I rode nearly all the flat section from Tawonga to Buffalo on my own, not knowing Brenton was only a couple of minutes in front of me.

Me when I caught Brenton

The agony of my Buffalo climb was interspersed with two very special moments. The time I saw Jack screaming down the mountain with a smile on his face… and the time I caught Brenton!

As much as I didn’t state it as a goal.. infact I said it definitely wasn’t one – I lied.

It was very important for me to put the little young fella back in his box. I caught him at McKinnons Corner on Buffalo and rode with him to Devils Elbow (3k). Then I rode off his wheel. Since he’s now spruking about me only beating him by 4 minutes I now wish I’d whacked him on the arse and ridden on by!… not really mate ; )

I actually raised the possibily of riding together to the end but when I turned back to see him hundreds of metres behind me at The Gap (top of the main climb), I realised he was smashed so I went on alone.

I yelled at a lot of my mates on the descent as they still climbed (who could deny that’s fun?!) – Danny, Al, Ad, Ben, Nick, no Gus – and found myself once again, completely alone on the trip back to Bright.

At the finish

As I crossed the line I was delighted to be met by my son Jack who still had a big smile on his face – this time for me. He was the perfect soijneur; taking my photo, hanging my bike, looking after my shoes. Both of us very proud of the other. Love it.

7 hours, 9 minutes and 2 seconds for me. Third across the line following a couple of little whippets, one of them not far in front of me. [ Assumptions in this sentence; riders at the pointy end are using Strava, blokes pushing out an estimated 191 watts on average compared to my 315 are quite little ].

Importantly – the young (28yrs), little (75kg) Bighorn (Brenton) was just under 4 minutes (3 positions) behind me; now assigned to super-domestique and champagne serving duties on the 6am-er Hurt Box.

Yes, this is a big smile on my face – and you do look totally ^&^@#$$*ed…

Brenton and I at the finish

… but seriously mate, well done. See if you can beat the big old bloke next year.

Today I am tired. But I’m already thinking about the fact that I really need to prove that a 45 year old can still go under 7 hours. The goal may well be renewed.

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5 thoughts on “Where oh where has my 17 minutes gone?

  1. That is one of the best race summaries I have ever read. Bloody great effort mate and you too Jack. Your ability to ride at such a high level is equalled or topped by your amazing attitude to keep riding and making us younger guys wonder what we are doing wrong. It was fantastic to see you flash past on the Buffalo decent, I only wish I was going the same direction.

  2. Great work. I was looking for you descending the Buff, but you must have gone past in a blur of speed. My wife had the early shift that day and I could only manage the afternoon shift, leaving Bright to go up Buffalo at around 12.30. The humidity was terrible. I felt cooked and I only did 1 hill!

    Next year, sub 7 at 45yo, give it a go.

    Mr C

  3. Pingback: What is it about numbers? |

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