The course
The race this weekend was at Wantabadgery which is 200 km from Wodonga and 35 km from Wagga Wagga. The race was 84 km, windy and hillier than I thought it would be. It was also a handicap, which means that riders are put into groups based on ability. The slowest group (Called limit) starts first, then the second slowest group, then the 3rd and 4th etc. The second last group to start is called block and the last group to start is called scratch (more detailed explanation here).

I was in Scratch which meant I started 15 minutes after the first group. The 30 riders in my group started off at a fast pace (we averaged 41 km/h for the first 20 km). Everyone was working well together until about 23 km into the race when we hit a 300 m long section of dirt. After the dirt the group got re-organised and we started to catch a few riders from the group that started 2:30 ahead of us. Up until about 35 km into the race my group continued to work together, but then the head wind began to pick up and people started to struggle and stop rolling turns. After a bit we started to go downhill and people felt better and began rolling turns again.

The race was going along smoothly up until 46 km into the race. Half of the group managed to miss a left turn because the lead car was too far ahead of us. This wasn't too big of a problem though because the rest of the group waited for us, but it did cost us a bit of time getting back up to speed. This meant that because we had turned left we had now turned into a crosswind. The strong riders put it in the gutter and formed an echelon (explanation of an echelon here). This was a problem for me because I was about two people too far back and was struggling to hang on. I knew that I had to get around those two people and get into the group rolling turns because when there’s a strong crosswind it's easier to be taking turns than trying to hang on. After a bit of forceful maneuvering I got into the group rolling turns and started to feel a bit more comfortable.

For the next 25 km nothing much happened. That was until we hit the first of three hills at 20 km to go. Three Illawarra riders went to the front and started picking up the pace then some one else attacked. I went across the gap to him and by the top of the hill about 8 more riders came across as well. As we went over the top of the hill our group began to work together to try and stay away from the chasers and also catch the riders that were still in front of us. As we hit the next hill the pace went up again and as we approached the top some one attacked. As we went over the top of the hill I was struggling to hang on and went to the back of our group. As we started going downhill the other riders kept the pace up to try and catch more riders.  At this stage we were 1 minute and 30 seconds from catching the front group.

At this point in time I was struggling and just trying to hang on to the back of the group. Then we hit the third and final hill. I kept fighting to stay with the group and as we went over the top I started to let a little bit of a gap go. I managed to hang on though; I closed the gap and just tried to stay with the group until the finish. 

As we came into the finish I was still struggling to hold onto the back of the group but knew that I had to move up if I wanted to have a chance in the sprint. As we went over a bridge at 500 m to go I was sitting sixth from the front and some one started to sprint. I knew this was way to early so I jumped in behind them and followed until about 200 m to go. The rider I was following started slowing down and I knew I had to start my sprint. I stayed out in front until about 50 m to go when three riders came around me.

We didn't catch the front group and I don't know how many people finished in front of me. This meant I got 5th out of my group (one rider had broken away before the finish). I was happy with this result because it was the furthest handicap I have raced and even though I was close to getting dropped I managed to hang on until the finish.


Neil and Brenda
06/18/2013 7:25am

Gutsy effort Ryan. We are proud of your fighting spirit! 🚵

Jenny Allen
06/20/2013 4:38am

Great ride Ryan and exciting to read


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