Careflight Woodford To Glenbrook Classic 2011
On the weekend I headed down to the Careflight Woodford To Glenbrook Classic in the Blue Mountains.
Unfortunately by the time I got around to entering the race was sold out, but thanks to a last minute response to a post I made on rotorburn, I was lucky enough to take David Treves entry who luckily for me was unable to make the race.
For those that don’t know, the Woodford to Glenbrook classic is exactly 25k of some of the fastest fireroad around and is held every year. The race is basically an institution and it is very beginner friendly. There is also a marathon that starts after the cycling event but why you would want to do that is well beyond me! The course only has 4 climbs in it and they all take place within the first 12 kilometers. After that it is downhill the entire way to the finish, and to give you an idea of how fast this race is, I averaged 32kph with a max of 58km. More like a road race, yet a lot more wild.
Only problem with scoring someone else’s entry was that I had to race in the 30-39 category where as my category is 20-29. It meant that I was going to score an official time so I started with the 30-39 crowd.
The race start was surprisingly mellow and after about 400m of dirt I got into the lead. But that was before the hills started, which for those of you that know me, aren’t my strong suit. I held onto the lead for about 7k but was eventually passed on the 3rd climb. The descents following the climbs were all pretty wild with some of the blind turns being rock strewn and sandy, which is always fun. I had one pretty major step out with the rear wheel but managed to keep it upright and luckily, this was the only incident I had the entire race. As the 4th and final climb came I managed to catch a glimpse of the lead rider but was so burnt from the climb I couldn’t catch up as the climb mellowed out at the top.
From the top of the 4th climb however, otherwise known as the helipad, it was all downhill to the finish. That’s right, 13km of gravity fed goodness to the line. So once my legs stopped aching after cresting the climb I got to zipping up the jersey, switched on the Contour GPS and I got in the tuck as I dropped into the first main downhill that leads onto a huge fireroad straight. By this stage I had dropped into the little cog at the back and began trying to play catch up.
I think I caught the lead guy around the 7km to go mark and it was pretty funny watching him do the double take. What is cool about this race is that generally the people at the front of their category are conserving energy and looking for someone to cop a draft from whilst there are other people who have been dropped from the lead group and are sprinting to do the best time possible.
So with about 7km to go I got to swap drafts behind two of the guys in my category and another 20-29 rider who was going nuts.
My S Works Epic 29er was truly performing as it should, noticeably easier to push along than the 26” bikes that some of the competitors were running.
The last 7 km went so quickly but it was one of the most fun experiences I have had on a bike. There are not many bike races where you sit on 40 plus k an hour for the last few km whilst swinging through turns and drafting your competitors. If you are even the slightest bit interested in doing a non local race, put this on the calendar! You will love it.
I was in second place coming into the final paddock and as it opened up I managed to get past first place and take the inside line around the 2nd last turn. I covered the inside of the next turn and then got to block 2nd place all the way to the line. The guy sounded devastated, me on the other hand was pretty stoked having surprised myself big time! After chatting to second place for a while he mentioned how if he had won it would have made it his 3rd win in a row. I told him not to worry as I shouldn’t have been racing in his category and went and disqualified myself, giving him the win.
In the end I completed the race in 44 min and 50 seconds. This time would have placed me 7th overall out of 547 competitors had I bothered to get in early enough to enter the race properly. My time would have taken the win in the 20-29 category so I was pretty pleased with that. I will definitely be racing in the open category next year and am going to aim for a top 5. This year put me exactly 3 mins off the pace of the winning overall rider, Nash Kent, a very accomplished A grade Road and Mountain bike rider.
A big thanks goes out to Steve Rugendyke who’s girlfriend Nicola not only shouted me a coffee after the race but drove me back to the top to collect the car. Score!
I hope you all like the helmetcam footage and I am looking forward to getting everyone’s bikes dialled for next year!