Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Highland Fling

I was really looking forward to the Highland Fling. With the quality of top level riders it was going to be very interesting to see how the race would unfold. As I lined up to the start I was kitted out in a Ritchey Costume which felt a little different. Normally I'd be racing in the BMC red kit but as BMC has left DirtWorks I was happy to wear the Ritchey gear. I do actually use their seat, seatpost, handle bars, stem and tyres!

As the race started I seemed to drop back to midfield and was questioning my high end fitness. I tried to sit in as efficiently as I could but most of the first section of the track is incredibly bumpy as we headed across freshly ploughed land and paddocks.

It appeared as though we had a massive group of elite riders and I was wondering how the race would end up if we are still all together at the finish. About 2km from the transition heading up one of the last hill in the first stage Perren Delacour rode off the front of the group. He wasn't moving along really quickly but no one wanted to do the work to chase across. I quickly punched across the gap and had a quick rest on his back wheel before offering to do some turns before the transition.

Coming into the first untimed section I was about 20 seconds ahead of the rest of the field. It turns out Pez was actually racing the 50km event. The untimed section is a 400-600m section of road for which you are given 5mins to ride. If it takes you more than 5mins to get along this section your time starts again. When the other boys caught up, those who knew how the timing worked wanted me to go out first. In the end another Elite ride who had caught up rode over the timing mat and everyone else followed him. This meant I started the second section with the rest of the Elite riders however, I was actually 20secs in front.

The second section is the toughest part of the race. There are some fairly big climbs and the last time I raced in Elite I got dropped at "The Wall". This time, I was determined to hang on longer than this part of the track. Heading up one of the earlier climbs Matt Flemming charged off. I started to go with him but knew I wouldn't be able to hold the intensity he was pushing. He rode off before Hamish Elliot bridged the gap to join him. The two of them worked together and had developed a significant lead around the half way mark in this stage. I managed to lose a drink bottle in this stage and had to stop to fill up as we worked on chasing down Matt and Hamish. When we did catch up Craig Gordon, who had been sitting comfortably in the pack, attacked off the front in what looked like his toughest gear! This is where the race really split up and Shaun and I worked to try and minimise our losses.

In the last transition we were told we were 2 mins 20 sec behind Gordon. We though this was achievable to chase down and we started swapping off like crazy. My legs were feeling the toll from the hills earlier however we were pretty keen to give it 100%. About half way through this last stage we were told Gordon was 5mins up the road. I was thinking surely we were gaining time on him at out pace. Half an hour later we get told that Gordo was 10mins up the road. At this stage the race focus moved from chasing down Gordo to fighting for second place. I had around 20secs on Shaun so all I had to do was stay with him. This proved not to be a simple task! At the end of the race he produced some crazy strong attacks. Each one I was able to catch back up and in the end rolled across the line behind Shuan, but really 12secs in front!

Another big thanks to Dirt Works, my mate Scottie and Jen.

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