National Para-cycling Series, Round 1

SilverYes, I know, this post has been a long time coming. Hopefully you were following along with us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and know the outcome to our adventures in Toowoomba. Even so, here’s a report on the trip.

Photo of tandem bike strapped to the back of the ute.

Black Betty loaded on the back of the ute while we were stopped in Tenterfield.

We left Armidale a little later than we wanted, around 11am, and we headed north along the New England Highway, avoiding the almost compulsory stop at Geln Innes only an hour up the highway. We got to Tenterfield and had lunch, and it started raining. It wasn’t heavy rain at that point, but the sky wasn’t looking favourable. After lunch, once we were heading out of Tenterfield, the skys opened and it poured rain, which was over by the time we got to Jennings (NSW) and Wollongarra (Queensland) at the border.

After a brief family-related detour to Stanthorpe, we continued north through Warwick and on towards Toowoomba.

Our original plan, which was more than a little hopeful, was to get to Tenterfield, get ourselves settled in, and then head out to Nobby where the Time Trial was to be held and to take a ride over the course. But our late departure made that look shaky when we had to be at the riders and managers briefing at 5pm.

So we took a detour off the highway and took a drive over the course. Overall it was a bit flatter than what we’re used to riding in Armidale. I won’t say it was flat, it as more like a set of false flats, but the Strava report shows a total climb over 20km (out and back) of 227m, so driving evidently proves deceptive. Honestly it’s to hard to tell as a blind person.

Photo of the tent

Sleeping quarters

We made it to the Jolly Swagman Caravan Park and got our accommodation sorted. Just before it started to sprinkle a bit of rain. The wet didn’t last long, and was gone by the time we were driving off to the briefing.

We made it to the briefing with lots of time to spare, took our seats and waited. After some instruction about the courses and some questions, we moved to registration and picking up our packs. As is usual in these situations, I was given an envelope with a bunch of printed materials, a pen and some sticky notes, all of which were basically no use to me. We also had an envelope containing our number and transponder. We headed back to the ute and back to the tent before working out what we were going to eat.

Large piece of paper with the number 1 printed on it.

We got number 1.

On the way back I pulled the race numbers out of the envelope and asked Dave what number we had. Number 1. The first time, and possibly the last time, I’ve ever had number 1.

For dinner we had a search online and settled on heading up the Nando’s, which wasn’t too far away. After dinner we went in search of a Supermarket or Convenience store, and ended up blocks out of our way at a Woolworths petrol station. After getting some bottled water and ice cream, we headed back to camp and sleep.

We got up at 6, aiming to be at the Time Trial start by 7am giving us time to get sorted out before sign on and start. It wasn’t quite as smooth as that, and while we got signed on in time (just), it was mere minutes until we were on the start line as first tandem off.

I could attempt the describe the race, but really it was an unfamiliar set of gentle climbs and a couple of descents, before a couple of larger climbs. None of them were too shocking, but the time was just a bit disappointing. We took second.

At the end of the race we met our fellow B1 classified riders, Zac and Aden of The Orange Tandem. We ended up having coffee at the Nobby General store, and comparing notes and stories.

That was really it for the Friday. We headed back, showered, found lunch (curry), rested, drove out to the road race course, had dinner, sweated in the humidity, and went to sleep. The plan was to get up earlier on Saturday, partially because it was a longer drive to the start at Goombungee, and partially so we had more time to get sorted once we were there.

Photo of riders car park

The set up at the start in Goombungee

We made it with plenty of time, got clarification on the course, and had a bit of a spin to warm up while we waited for sign on. By the time we got back it was basically time to start.

We lined up with Zac and Aden in our B1 Category and set off. This course was quite different to the Time Trial, as were the conditions. Firstly there was a fair bit of up and down hills. The course was a loop, so there was no turning around, and finally the wind! The wind was awful in places, with the nearest weather station recording wind speed 35-45km/hr. It was like some rides you can do around Armidale. It wasn’t pleasant. Zac and Aden lapped us on our third time around, and we were given the option to pull out when we passed the start/finish. But we’re both stubborn, and neither of us was going to have a DNF if we could help it. We kept going.

Podium photo

The Men’s B1 Podium, National Para-cycling Series Round 1. Photo by Steve Richter Photographer

We came second. I had managed to run out of water about half way around the last lap, and by the time we were done I was desperate for a drink. After some water and coffee (thanks to the Oceana’s event sponsor Zarafata (payment in cash or coffee accepted, guys), we headed over for the presentation. In the Mens B1 we recieved the silver medal, and 18 points (2 x 9 points) in the series.

All in all, it was a fun couple of days. It was great to meet and race against Zac and Aden. Thanks to Cycling Australia for organising the event. Next stop: Bathurst for Round 2.

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