MARS 2016 Australian Gran Fondo Championships

I was really looking forward to the Gran Fondo Champs right up until Brett told me that Tom Leaper had been given an entry after riding so well at the Bay Crits, smashing (I am starting a petition to have Gran Fondos graded on height)

This ride had flown under the radar compared to the mighty Tour of Bright but rocking up at the start line there were Brett, Liam, Deb, Damo, Ben, Anthony, Harry and Lisa. A warm up lap of the course showed that it was a ripper, a longer version of Holmsglen straight out of the start which then went into the KOM then what felt like all down hill back to the start. Whoop whoop.

The advice from Steggles and Damo “don’t let Leaper go”, well at least it was easy to remember.

First lap and we were driving up the hill at a pretty solid pace. Onto the KOM and Leaper put in an effort which resulted in a gap of about 50m by the top, brilliant!, I dug in and thought better to blow trying to catch him than let him go on the first lap. It took a couple of k but I got back onto him along with one other who had caught a lift with me across.

Three of us in the break off the main group. The other guy pulled up next to me “you know he’s going to do that every lap”, my world, hopes and beliefs all went a little dark.

Sure enough on the second lap of the hill the pressure gradually increased then onto the KOM and I was busy convincing myself that he might not do it again. The burning sensation in the legs meant that either my shorts were on fire or he was doing it again. My shorts weren’t on fire. Bugger.

I popped with only 10 or so meters to the top of the KOM, Leaper and the other guy were increasing the gap. Steggles is going to kick my ass.

I spent the next lap working out many ways to beat Leaper, my best option was inspired by Road Runner cartoons and involved a giant see saw with anvil, rockets and roller skates.

My cartoon fantasy was then burst with the most wonderful sight, a Hampton Cycles Masters kit coming up next to me. Turns out Damo had put in a big effort at the very start of his race to bridge across to my group, this at about the same time as I had gone off with Leaper. Damo was now with 4 other riders from my grade and they had caught me up. As we started Damo’s final lap, I had one more after him, we knew he had about a minute gap on his guys. On the KOM I figured at best I was going for third but Damo had a real chance for the win but they could be chasing so I figured to give it a good effort up the hill and give Damo a wheel to follow. This worked better than expected, not only did we put some more time into Damo’s group but we also dropped the rest of my guys. At the top the glorious words ‘sit on’ echoed from the boss so I lit up a cigarette got out the paper and had a free ride all the way down to the finish with Damo driving it all the way. The tough guy pulled across, did up his jersey and saluted for the win, job done.

I had one last lap. Going into it with a fair few seconds over the field it was time for head down. Looking at my numbers up the first hill just keeping the pressure on, then getting out of the saddle for one last kick up the KOM. Spectators were wondering why I looked so tortured for so little speed. The girl at the top with the cow bell was extremely excited to see me or maybe just glad that she could stop ringing it soon. All down hill now, I spent half the time looking over my shoulder and thankfully I never saw anyone again. The end of the course is epic, flowing downhill and the hoarding comes in to sight then the finish banner. Time to soak it up, it was everything I had and it was enough for third.

I rolled back to where we were all parked and restrained not to hug Damo and settled for a very enthusiastic hand shake instead. The results then started to flow in. Damo had won his with Laim getting 3rd and Anthony coming in 8th. Brett won his by going off the front on his own on the last lap, obviously still on a high from his 3:55 up Two Bays. Matt McKimm came home 2nd in the 19-34 category which was massively impressive in a very tough field. Harry got 6th, Lisa got the KOM and 3rd although we all know it was 1st really, and finally Deb emphatically won her race!!!

I’m off to the hardware store now to buy some planks, an anvil, rockets and roller skates.


darren lever