Tuesday, 14 March 2017
Having raced at Orange a few times - the Kinross mtb tracks are top notch - I wasn't averse to returning with a road bike mindset to enjoy the big loop on offer, which got rave reviews after the inaugural event in 2016.
The night before we pub’ed it up on a wrap-around balcony beneath corrugated iron which made quite a racket as heavy rain lashed the area - almost drowning out several adjacent tables of locals making merry - but welcome none the less after a long dry summer. One of the biggest steaks in memory set me up for a pretty solid snooze before the pre-dawn paraphernalia of eating, sun-screening, and greeting the morning. Fortunately, skies looked considerably less threatening than the night before.
Anita and I met Sara, then cruised past Ham’s hotel, then on to the velodrome where, BT, Greg and 1300-odd riders were assembling. At 7 on the knocker waves of riders departed, ambling down quite town streets, and onto even quieter country roads for the scenic 170 km loop round Mt Canobolas which, according to Sara (local lass) is the highest mainland point from Orange west to the Indian ocean (and technically till the Andes!) The event on the whole was brilliantly marshaled, with barely a car in sight for the entire day.
A bit foggy in places early on, but generally bright and sunny with temps in the low 20s - perfect. The circuit was pretty roly-poly; virtually no major climbs to speak of, but dozens of rollers through paddocks, remnant forests of white box and quaint little country towns. At the 70 Km feed (Canowindra), Ham, Anita and I bid Sara and Greg farewell, and tapped on in search of more watermelon at Mandurama. The constant roly-polyness would gradually accrue 2200 m of altitude for the day - most of it packed into the last third by which stage sore legs are suddenly realized - a bit like an onsetting hangover suggesting you’ve probably had enough. The last 40 km contained this gradient-induced realization on classic pseaudo-belgian surfaces (I’m projecting here) before topping out at approx. 960 m with just 20 km of slight downhill to the finish. I’d been licking my lips for this last sector as a pretty firm taily was also in operation. Ambition got the better of me as, with Ham attached to my wheel, we kicked for home (sorry Mudgey), picking up a few groups on the run in and blowing right by them. Sometimes one just wants to hammer.
As for the Bowral event, a pretty festive lawn party was in operation at the finish - music, beer, food (but alas no petting zoo). Even though the drive home wasn’t too odious, in future years we might make a point of staying the extra night and enjoying more time away from rats, sardine tins, and whatever race we all partake in back in Sydney, which for some time now, unfortunately, can no longer be referred to as a town.