Saturday, 22 January 2011

Stage 3 – Checkers Hill & The day Sydney turned the screw!

Adelaide 21st January 2011

Today was always going to be a bash fest or not. There was a nervousness and quiet amongst the group as we rolled out to the coffee shop at 8.30. The coffee was gold as usual and a nice little wake up for some. The chit-chat was jovial with a strange absence of banter. The track was up over Norton Summit the traditional FFT way then out
through the picturesque rolling hills to Lobethal. We would follow most of our trip from Wednesday, through Gumeracha and then up the backside of Checkers Hill. This was to be new territory for many of the riders in the group. Then we would return through one of our favourites “The Gorge” it would be a 95km day of attacks, hills, fast downhills and bragging rights

We headed for Norton from the coffee shop via Magill rd. With some road works in play just before Magill rd (surely a neutral zone) Buzz just happened to sneak through the lights ahead of the group and drift off ahead of the group on the 3-4km approach to Norton. Taking the opportunity he cruised along with a small group waiting for the main players to catch up part way up the climb. They didn’t come though. So rather than steal an easy win, he set up shop and took video of the attacks coming through. It was on from the first left hand turn about 2km up. Deluca was the man to kick the fun off (or pain for most), Dave Evans, the Sydney recruit who joins in the FFT on a regular basis decided he was in. Dave from Melbourne was showing good form and was ready and wiling to jump on that move as well. Radman, Poolboy, Velvet were all in the mood as well. The heart rates went into the red way too early in the day and Rad was casualty number one. Evans kicked it up a gear and the only man to go with him was the other Dave. Dave and Dave were into it in a class of their own on the first climb with the others saving themselves after being spat, for the gruelling riding ahead.

The points were split at the summit with the poor buggers bringing up the rear wondering what they were in for today. Over the next 20 odd km’s to Lobethal it was attack after attack with Sydney starting to turn the screw. Poolboy started putting the hurt on at the top of each climb and with Buzz sucking The Koala’s wheel up one of the nasty climbs only to blow past with 500m to go. The cracks were starting to show for the Vics. After The velvets big push up Norton for a clear 3rd he went missing big time. Mind you he did say he was off keeping Grubby and some of the other back markers company. As soon as the back markers get to the waiting riders it’s straight back into it. If only they could get more rest……It’s a tough crowd and tough riding bunch that seems to take no prisoners. If you do a big turn and hope the next guy through will roll through nicely and let you grab his wheel in thanks for breaking the wind you are sadly mistaken. It’s basically, ”thanks mate, good luck getting on the back of my wheel, ha ha ha ha sucker”

With about 8km to go to Lobethal, the rolling hills can unhitch most riders. Roger the sleeping giant from Sydney came to life and seemed to sneak off the front in the hope of getting to the top of one of the pinches first. The Koala bear, Foster is in fair form and took up the chase. The Sydney boys in the trailing group shouted to Roger to go. He had no excuse and had to grit the teeth. It was a long way from home though. The two Daves got lazy and were deep in a mothers meeting when Buzz seized the opportunity to close Foz down. He was a fair way up the hill ahead so he had to dig in. As Foz peeked the climb he turned to see Buzz glued to his heel sucking in the big ones. It was recovery time for him and time to work with Foz. With Roger about 500m out ahead, and the trailing bunch 800m back there was nowhere to go but dig in and chase. As the gap closed to Roger and another pinch arrived, Buzz jumped the old dog who knew what was coming. It was time for payback from Tuesdays bashing. With about 2 km to Lobethal and lunch it was all out. Roger had done a great job and was fading fast with a closing bunch behind led by the Radman. Buzz took the reins and smoked it into town for an solid clear and decisive victory. The Vic’s had clearly fractured with their one-day classic riding showing its achillies. The NSW crew seem to get better in the stage races and this is where it was at today.

A well earned lunch at the great bakery in Lobethal and it was time to roll onto Checkers Hill for the KOM in the TDU. It’s a nice gradual gradient heading up out of town and then a cracking old country rd downhill into Gumeracha. For those hoping that an after lunch cruise was on the cards…..Not today. The speeds hit mid to high 60’s for the 7+km and at one stage reaching 75km/hr. The Velvet was back in a tussle with Poolboy swapping turns at the front with a group of about 10 in tow. This was one of the most exciting parts of a ride I’ve been on and there was more to come. The group had splintered understandably and would regroup at Checkers Hill. Dave Evans played it beautifully and snatched KOM at Checkers. The only form of retribution for the Vic’s could come from a dominant outing on the Gorge rd when we turn for home.

The TDU made its way up the tough climb of Checkers to all the cheering crowd who always turn out in the droves up there. The police get into the swing of things ride up and down while sweating their boxes off up their to continous cheers and spectators running beside them. The race was all together with no breakaways yet and some of the sprinters were right up the front, most notably Griepel. With the viewing of the race over it was time to dance. After a regroup at the bottom of Checkers, the pace grew steadily. The main players had broken away again with some solid movers in The Koala bear and Johnny the Lard Miller settling in beautifully. 4 blokes from the FRF racing team in Sydney just happened to like what they saw and joined in on the fun. The tempo went ballistic at the rolling hills section of the Gorge. This section can well and truly break the best when the pace is on. Today was as hot as I’ve seen it. It was full race mode. The attacks, swap offs and turns were fever pitched when we hit the main descent. The wind was pumping and so were the quads, they were burning, the heart rate was in the red and the lungs were screaming. The 4 NSW imports were slotting in beautifully but the real race was with Velvet, Deluca (sitting waiting), Poolboy, Kabel Michele’, The Buzz and the Rad man, Dave and Dave. Everyone was chewing bars but somehow finding something. A large truck presented about 3km from the rollers on the way out of the Gorge. De Luca using all his experience and race skills jumped from the group. The only man in position to chase was Poolboy. He managed to tuck in after a big chase only to blow to pieces and hand De Luca a well thought out win. You would’ve thought the pace would slow after that but NO, not until we arrived at the coffee shop in Rundle St. General consensus from most was that it was one of the best rides/races we have done in Radelaide. What a great way to cap off an awesome trip.

Some head home tomorrow while the others will hopefully cruise to Aldinga and up Willunga for the climb in the TDU, always a great highlight.

Cheers to all that have joined in its been another awesome FFT in Adelaide, hopefully all have enjoyed themselves. With no incidents other than Robbo’s self bashing on Wed it’s been all clear. Well done to all. Shame to see Sheep have to go back for work early but he’ll be back next year and for Sandy showing him how it’s done on their last day here. If you haven’t got a mention in the reports, apologies, but get involved so your name hits the pages of the FFT Blog next year.

Until next year CIOA!!


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