In the SPR jerseys: (left to right) Ashley, some guy (Chris?), me, Carlos's head, Daniel (spoiler: he got 3rd)
The start was very relaxed and the first 20km were pretty civil. Most of the SPR guys were sitting up towards the front of the group for this period. I found myself falling off the front a couple of times before a nice gentleman from Collie CC informed me of what I was doing.
At around the 20-25km mark there was a reasonably decent hill, long with a bit of kick. I think by this stage two of the under 17's had raced off the front of the group (yeah, they put us in with them again). Ashley (who seems about my age but with a hell of a lot more experience), the aforementioned Collie guy and me found ourselves up the front of the group, with people dropping off left, right and centre. We decided to push it a bit to see what would happen. Another group of riders caught us so we stuck it out with them. After this hill was a long descent into the halfway turn around point. Most of the other riders caught us on this descent, but after the turn around, the same bunch had another crack at breaking away. I don't think that one suceeded, but they tried again just afterwards and managed to break free from the main group. Suddenly I realised that I was at the front of the main group, so I made a mad dash to catch on to the back of the breakaway, only just making it.
In the breakaway was 4 SPR riders (including me), the Collie dude, a South West CC guy, and an u17 rider (who did nothing the whole breakaway... grrr). I think there was another guy somewhere in there too, but my memory is awful. Actually now that I think of it, there was 3 u17's in this group and the two broke away from us here, not beforehand.. Anyway, the breakaway wasn't really working together very much until the Collie guy donned his general's hat and starting organising us all. We got some rolling going (some of the time) and it was going pretty well. I'll tell you what though, I've never been so completely stuffed in all my life. At one point I'd thought I'd hit the wall, I was struggling to keep up with the guy in front.. I thought I'd had it. The SWCC guy gave me a little helping hand in the back, which was awesome.. it kept my spirits up. I was good after that.
We managed to keep ahead of the main group of riders, but were caught about 5km from the line by a small chase group.. maybe 4 or 5 riders. One was SPR. The terrain flattened out which changed the game a little bit. Someone pointed out the 1km to go sign, which surprised us all (I think the course was short by 1.5km or so). The pace increased a bit. At this stage, I had nothing left in the tanks. I think I was trying to use the tank itself as fuel. Thats ok, I thought, I'll just sit on someones wheel and let those with anything left sprint it out. The finish line appears in sight. Hmm. A couple of guys increase the tempo even more (the pre-sprint? sprint foreplay?) so I stuck with them (only because the guy I was sucking wheel off was one of them). The sprint started in earnest, some guys took off, I really couldn't be bothered. Then a blast of adrenalin hit (or maybe my body worked out how to metabolise the tank). Oh for fuck sake, I thought, so I got up out of the seat and went for a sprint. 3 SPR guys were battling it out for 1st, 2nd and 3rd. I saw the Collie guy and thought I'd try and beat him. I just missed out on it, he got in before me by 0.2 seconds, which I reckon was about a wheel length. He ended up with 4th and I took out 5th. Ashley, the master hill climber (fuck he was awesome) took 8th.
The podium.. umm, the "podium" at the Dardanup pub (left to right): Collie Guy!, Daniel (3rd), , Jason (2nd), Chris (1st)
It was a very enjoyable day, well organised by the South West CC. Kudos. Also they made really good sandwiches. If you would like to read a better report of the C grade race check out Daniels at the SPR blog.
Highlight: Realising I like the hills, learning some new tactics and the domination of C-grade by SPR.
Lowlight: Did I mentioned how sore I was? My lungs hurt for two days afterwards.. is that normal?