River Deep Mountain High - Climbing out of the Hole of Despair
The Turner Czar had suffered a broken carbon seatpost and front derailleur issues in its previous outing and a visit to the on-site race mechanic melted away my concerns and I was ready for the race ahead. Indeed, I was seeking some grains of redemption, after a disappointing showing at the Kowalski Classic just seven days earlier. A lighter week of training and a readjustment to a slightly higher saddle height had left me feeling more optimistic.
After three laps, I was in 6th place with Jason, Mike and Garry setting the early pace while Dave had just glided past me leaving me desperately clinging to his wheel. Before he left me struggling up the switchbacks on camelback we had passed Mike Israel. Perhaps a big week of training had left him heavy legged. Once again, Dave was looking strong and it seems that in every race he continues to improve. At the pace he was going, I was convinced he would begin to reel in the other early leaders.
Jason and Dave, I believed, were now sitting comfortably in 1st and 2nd respectively, and with Mike and Garry only distant threats I began to relax and my next 2 laps were over two minutes slower. Coming into transition, I glimpsed Mike's blue and white Turramurra shirt along with Open Male Solo rider Matthew Clutterham. Not quite sure how he had closed the gap I put the hammer down. Surely this would break him. My 10th lap was quick and, as I went through transition, I was shocked to be told Dave was only just ahead. Sure enough I soon caught him, and I prepared for the ensuing last lap battle. It never happened as Dave pulled to one side and ushered me through. I stepped up the pace, just in case, but there was no riposte.
I continued to push hard but surely now I was secure in second place. It was at this point I made a fatal error. I was still visualising my celebration as I crossed the line when I caught a glimpse of that blue and white shirt on the switchbacks. Surely not. How could he possibly make up that time and hadn't he cracked on the previous lap. I responded with as much gusto as I could muster. But this only seemed to drag more venom from the beast behind. I heard the roar of a incensed animal as we descended the fireroad and he was now right on my shoulder but I was able to hold the racing line into the singletrack. Mike was literally breathing down my neck and as we climbed the Murderhorn I lost traction for a split second and he seized the moment. He powered through the sniggles as I simultaneously called on every last sinew in my tiring legs. It proved of little help. Mike claimed an incredible 2nd place putting in his 2nd fastest lap of the day on the final circuit to move him up two places. The final margin was just 12 seconds while Dave was a scant two minutes behind.
As for WEMBO, in two weeks time, I think we can all take the positives out of this race. Personally, I feel I am recovering the form that went awry in recent weeks. It is more than likely that we will all be involved in comparable drama at Mt. Stromlo, particularly considering three of us will be competing in the same age category.