Rarely do you enter a race with the pessimistic expectation of just finishing. Having ridden the course, I certainly knew it would test my limitations. As usual, once the gun has gone, the competitive juices kick in and you start to get delusions of grandeur. Nothings rips these delusions to shreds like a wall of mountain followed by 100 miles of rolling hills and crosswinds. Despite these obstacles, the Launceston to New Norfolk race is in one word, epic.
An hour before the start, the temps we still hovering around zero making clothing choices tricky. In the end, the sun popped up and we spent most of the day quite comfortable in arm warmers and and Cobra9 vests. The pace off the neutral zone was hot until the lead four shot away. After this it was a slightly more leisurely cruise to the base of the Western Tiers. Unfortunately I managed an untimely front puncture a few k’s before the climb started which ended any chance of climbing with my Cobra9 buddy Scott. It also ruined any chance of finding a group to ride with after the Poatina hill.
As it was, it followed that 100 miles was spent in the gruppetto of sorts. A good bunch of blokes doing regular turns, avoiding the cross winds counting down the miles to the finish. Another puncture with 20 kms to go really rubbed salt in the wounds and prevented any chance of a spirited sorting out of the group. As it was, I was totally shagged covering the last few hills and was kept motivated by the lure of a post race pint. Anyone who has suffered on a bike understands the lure of post race gratuities.
Scott performed well but also found himself riding solo for large portions of the race as many riders around him pulled out. We were both surprised by the numbers of riders pulling out on the climb. There is no question the race is tougher then many expected. Both of us will be back next year to try and improve our positions and times. I would thoroughly encourage all those considering entering to do so. The race organisation was exceptional as was the ubiquitous support crew.