It's been a bloody long time since I've ridden that far!
I met way_downsouth and Hollywood in Karori around 11:30, and we rode out to Eastbourne. Karori was pretty still, but it became clear that the ride from Wainui Coast to the finish was going to be tough with a northerly wind. We registered, and then rode into Eastbourne for a coffee. I was peckish, and without checking the time, first ordered a brownie, and then swapped it for a bacon and egg sandwich (much to the waitress' distress ...)
Time had marched on, so we headed back to the start line in time for briefing, and a bit of sifting. It was nice to catch up with fellow vorbers - Grant, Joel, and Oli, as well as a whole lot of anonymous lurkers
It was nice to watch A grade head off down the road, and then line up with B grade. The pace to the bottom of Wainui Hill was sedate to say the least. I almost came a cropper (and almost took someone down behind me) when a rider in front slowed down and swerved on the first steep section, John Atkinson went off the front, using his chicken legs to good effect, and three two more went after him. I rode side by side with Steve Pyne, at a nice easy, but honest tempo. The riders in front didn't get too far away, and though Steve bridged to the two ahead by the top of the climb, I was happy enough to take it easy - no metallic taste in the mouth for me today (unlike Tuesday). One of the nice things about being able to climb hills at the best part of 90kg, I roll down the other side hellishly quick. I find that in a nice tuck position, I can work up a fair head of steam, and I caught the three ahead before the bottom of the hill.
We were joined very soon after by a 5th rider, and with at least 400m clear of the bunch (I gave up looking back for them), we quickly got into a pace line. Shortly after the finish line, we caught John, and the 6 of us worked well to the coast. It was great to see Joel safely entrenched in the A grade bunch. Almost immediately after the turn, our pursuers went past, and my immediate reaction was to sit up. They were so close (a few hundred metres), and strong in number. We all cruised for the next while, and despite this, the bunch seemed to take an eternity to pick us up. When they finally did, things slowed down even more, so at least they'd suffered on their chase.
The next hour and a bit were rather curious. Sometimes we rode quickly; mostly we rode slowly. Few people worked. The second lap to the coast was a little frustrating for the presence of a few A graders who'd been shelled by their bunch. For the most part, they seemed content to take wind, and rotate with the few B graders who were working, but well into the final leg, one was up the road working with a single B-grader, and a second time same B-grader, plus two others, and a different A-grader. It wasn't the end of the world, but a little frustrating so close to the finish.
In any case, either someone said something to them, or by their own volition, within a few kilometers of the finish, the A-graders rolled back, and it was all on. As usual, I really struggled to hold wheels at this point, and benefitted greatly from the short-lived nature of the attacks, and the fact that when they collapsed, the pace dropped right down. In the approach to the tip, I had a lovely sheltered position about 15 back, and though I was worried that I had nothing much left, at least I was sheltered.
A few hundred out is a lovely little dip, and I swung around the bunch quite aggressively. Again my 90kg paid dividends as I worked up a great bit of momentum, and was second at the bottom of the dip. The first time I'd ridden this finish (last year in BP2) I'd blown spectacularly, and was photographed sprinting with my hands on the hoods - this time, down on the drops (harnessing my glutes... whatever...) and managed to hold second place through to the line. Though a very satisfying result, I found it all a bit perplexing having felt so low a few minutes earlier. I guess those attacks took their toll on everyone...
Check out a video of the finish!
After a short roll through to the bottom of the hill out of Wainui, I packed the Roubaix back into Mum and Dad's car, then hit Petone for a coffee. Then, home for a bath!
I'll be interested to see how the legs hold up at "Whole Lotta Led" tonight. I'm looking forward to Simon getting back on his bike, and some sifty endurance rides through the countryside. And maybe some interval sessions so these races don't feel so damn unfamiliar...
As always, cheers to Oli at Roadworks, and Simon for trying to instill some patience in me!
Originally published on vorb