Race Report – Maukau Mountain Classic

by Brendan McGrath

65KM – Graded Mass Start. 3 Circuits including 3x up a very very steep hill (about 500meters peaking at 21% Im told)

A-Grade.

Department of Cycling had 4 members in A Grade out of about 15 Starters. Gordy , Morgan Smith, Richard Dean and I.
The field had an alarming number of Teenagers in it! At least 4 from the New Zealand U19 team, Scott Ambrose, James Judd, Jared ?? and Josh ??, now these kids are FIT. Plus two Cycling coaches.

As most races with Gordy in them do, the race started with a BANG, clearly Gordy not too keen on having company up the very steep hill made an early break. Realising from many bitter experiences that Gordy has rather a lot of luck with this approach I didn’t want to miss out, so across I go with two other youngsters. A decent gap opened up straight away, but alas while the mind was willing the body was not (I can confirm that Gordy still goes very fast on the right road) and boom I was in instant trouble. Back to the bunch for me!

Pretty soon after we had all regrouped for the first climb, a two step big ring climb over about 500 meters, again I’m in all sorts of trouble, just about dropping out the back. Another 5km of flat, then another big ring climb and Aaron Strong takes off up the road; there goes the race I thought to myself but really was struggling enough that going with him never crossed my mind. Two more youngsters made it across to Aaron and that was the race, 3 out front and about 9 or 10 of us behind just lapping thru killing time.

First time up Bald Hill, Ive only done this race once.. the first time it was run back in about 2004ish? So had really forgotten the hill! Dear lord its very very steep, 1st gear bike swaying, thinking about quitting cycling steep. A proper comedy climb.

Gordy had a couple of issues and didn’t make it back on over the top and nor did Richard Dean, both suffering recent health issues. Morgan looked very strong and sat for some of the climb!

Basically the next two laps were exactly the same, we all hit the final climb together, main goal, beat Morgan who had said he would kick my arse 😉 Got a wee gap at the steepest part of the hill, maybe 100 meters from the finish, wohoo…. Grrr about 50 meters to go Morgan comes past me, go legs go… nothing more left…. As we know its all about beating your mates 😉

Up front Aaron bet off both youngsters and took the win! Very impressive and makes you wonder how far Aaron could have gone if he had started young on the bike instead of in his late 20’s, also makes me shudder at the thought of M2 racing next year!

All in all a great day out, good turn out. Felt really good to jump into a decent field for a challenge, as my 4th event on a road bike in over 5 years (2007 last thing before club race about 6 weeks ago) it was a good reminder just how much you need to put into this sport even to win a local club race!!! So unless I want to be out training at night with a 2 year old in the baby seat, I’m going to have to settle for the minor placing’s…. However really nice to be back at a level where I can at least get to see some real talented kids doing their thing. And find a lot of inspiration in some other performances from the slightly more mature riders 😉

In the end its just great to be out there riding my bike, just like it was when I was a 5 year old and like it will be when Im a 70 year old

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