CYCLING: A solid effort by ‘Chunky’
A LOT has happened since we last were "within the peloton". Road racing has gone ahead full steam, locally and over the Tasman.
We've hit the boss up for more staff and negotiated with a roving investigative reporter - Berty Bellringa. We've given him a hat, a little card that says "press" and a paddle pop (he asked for it) and he's off to tackle the goss in local cycling.
But the big news was that of Grafton golden boy Craig "Chunky Lover" Evers. We all knew this kid would make it and thought his time would come. Well my friends, his time is now. Evers won the 139km second stage at the New Zealand Cycle Classic on January 30 with an average speed of 39.7kmh.
Evers managed to bridge the gap from the main peloton to join the breakaway, continued to ride smart and upon seeing the finish line, his eyes lit up. "It was max speed," Evers told Within The Peloton. "I can do a high-speed finish and today was perfect for me."
Evers was over the moon, grinning all the way to the podium. But that wasn't enough for our Chunky friend. After obtaining good "sprint points", the following stage Evers managed to climb into the Sprinters jersey and defended it to the end of the final stage to take home the Sprint King honours for his new team Data#3.
Evers and his team flew straight back into Melbourne for the Herald Sun Tour. Charged by his recent victory, Evers took out another intermediate sprint to sit high on the scoreboard with some well-respected names in the world of cycling. Well done Chunky.
Two races have been held on the past two Saturdays at the Trenayr circuit. The first was taken out by Yamba royalty Richard Harris.
Last Saturday about 40 keen cyclists pushed out along Lawrence Rd on route to the race. A 2015 record number of race entries tackled the circuit, with first across the line "Eveready" Garry Reardon, who is well-known for his "smarts" on a bicycle. Reardon started off "chopping block" - or the second-to-last group. In a close second was Steve Wilben, followed by Kelsey Wilks. Taking out fastest time was foreigner Jordan Davies.
The Yamba Training criterium attracted record numbers, as well with 35-plus competitors taking the line for the teams event just as the heavens opened up. Early attacks and counter-attacks saw three out of nine teams left in contention. As they edged closer to glory, it was evident the youth and training of Kelsey Wilkes would be too strong for the abilities of newbie Julia Forbes and the guile of Belinda Leary. Across the line they went in that order, with their male helpers singing out encouragement from behind.
With the Grafton to Inverell Cyclo Sportif just around the corner, many local riders are maybes, ifs or buts.
This is Australia's greatest one-day race course, and each February it's the chance for average Joe to tackle the gruelling 228 kilometres.
It's quite common knowledge "you're not a real cyclist in Grafton if you haven't attempted the G2I".
Putting my money where my mouth is, yours truly - Vladimir Goosenvik - will have my first attempt at the monster, and I hope to bring you an insight into the event first-hand.
Another taking up the challenge is Grafton Cycle Club president John Harrison, or Big John as he is affectionately known.
Berty Bellringa managed to catch up with Big John over a pint to find out the motivation behind the president's madness.
"It's a great challenge to compete in this event. It's one of the hardest courses in Australia," Harrison said.
"This will be my seventh go at it. I've finished all but one. It's a chance to ride with some great mates who haven't had the chance to ride it yet."
So does that mean Big John is the brains behind the operation? "Definitely not," Harrison laughed. "I've got none, that's why I'm calling us the 'Protected Species Group', with myself the most endangered."
(Boss, Berty's got a receipt for five pints he wants to claim as work-related expenses.)