Well, I like the new head torturer at Capital Punishment. The buxom blonde in knee high boots with a soft leather whip is much nicer than the rotted tooth, red hot poker wielding weasel of previous years. It was even a pleasurable experience this year.
The sun was shining, the track at optimum moisture level and gone the dreaded airport paddock section. Even the 7 am start, which I normally detest at any race, was bearable. It was a cool Canberra morning but at least the clear skies meant that the night vision goggles, required previous years, could be left at home. If you fancy yourself at this race, you need to be on the front row of the grid.
I didn’t, so wasn’t.
The bunch rolls along in start grid formation until the first single track where six abreast has to turn into single file. This funnel magically spits riders out onto the track sorted into groups according to their rightful position. I was a few groups back with team mate Nick Both.
Both wasn’t feeling the best but still managed to make me look like a fool on the single track. He pedals away from you looking like he is on his way to a pedicure in downtown Copenhagen. Meanwhile I am bouncing off trees with heart rate at critical levels surging back to the wheel on any straight. Tate came into sight after the first section and we joined him and tried to stick together and with the rest of our group. There were some attempts by marginally stronger individuals to crack the group, but Tate and I grovelled well and stuck with these unfriendlies through Majura and over the KOM to the untimed section.
There is so much time allowed in the untimed section to get through the Canberra ’burbs it is almost farcical. But it does make the race results interesting and mysterious. The supercomputer at ANU is apparently feeding the data through some complex algorithm as we speak and the final results for the also-rans should be available in a few days.
Bothy pulled the pin in the untimed section. He says it was his sore hand, but others say that he got engrossed in the midday movie back at his accommodation when he went to refill his bottles. Tate and I saw the Rockstar posse and other superstars briefly in the traverse across the demilitarised zone. Having rolled into town a few minutes ahead of us they had detoured to the local shopping mall to grab a bite to eat and sign a few autographs.
Just before the untimed zone exit, super team helper Pete Cool-as-a-fig-in-the-freezer Figg was giving Subaru-MarathonMTB rider Brock a towel down and gee up for the next stage. I’m not sure who he said would be at the finish, but it worked. Brock was off with the afterburners on. Foot out on the gravel corners, just keeping it together. Tate and I could barely hold on and nor could anyone else.
We arrived at Stromlo as a splintered group in various states of distress. The up and down of Stromlo was made largely individually. I got back to Brock on the climb and we finished together. Tate was delayed by a thorn bush and finished just behind. I don’t know where we came in the wash up and I’m honesty not too worried. I really enjoyed my punishment this year! Maybe it was a trick to lure me back next year for the real torture, but I have fallen for it. The track was perfect and all fun and it was nice to ride the race together with the other guys on the team.