Home for some cycling fun
CLARENCE Valley local Aaron Watts returns home from his Gold Coast training base for a brief stint this weekend as he takes part in today's Grafton to Inverell Cyclo Sportif.
Only last year Watts relocated from his Yamba home to start training with Paralympic silver medallist Bryce Lindores on the Gold Coast where the two have formed a formidable partnership, racing together in last weekend's Oceania Road Cycling Championships in Toowoomba.
This weekend, Watts is returning to the Clarence Valley to take part in the 228km Grafton to Inverell Cyclo Sportif in what he calls a "fun ride".
"I think the Cyclo Sportif is a fun ride," Watts said. "It's a lot less serious than the race. I've done the race three times before so I know the route pretty well.
"It could be potentially tough out there. It's looking like it will be pretty wet already so that won't make it easy but there could be a nice tailwind come through which will help."
"I'm so excited to be home and getting to catch up with all my friends and family.
"A teammate of mine from AMR Renault, Dylan Sunderland, is involved in the ride as well so it will be good to ride alongside him again. We can get pretty competitive with each other but I think tomorrow is just going to be a fun ride."
Since moving to the Gold Coast in April last year, Watts has been hard at work with Lindores, forming a bond that has seen them already clinch victory in the first round of the National Paracycling Series last weekend.
The two riders will be leaving the Gold Coast for Adelaide in early April to compete in the second round of the Paracycling Series and Watts will also be competing individually in the National Championships while they are there.
"Bryce and I have been training together strongly and he's planning to go to Rio Paralympics," Watts said. "I guess I'm also training for the Rio Olympics. That's always the dream.
"Together we'll be competing in the National Championships, which are in early April, and then we're travelling together to the World Championships in Switzerland in July."
"I've not raced at a national level before, so this is a great experience for me."
For this weekend, Watts' focus will be trained solely on enjoying himself while he partakes in the Cyclo Sportif that has been put together by event organiser Mark Wilks.
"The Cyclo Sportif is not competitive at all," Wilks said. "It's just a challenge ride for the guys involved and a great opportunity to raise some funding for our chosen charity, the Ronald McDonald house."
Although wild weather is predicted for the weekend, Wilks is still confident the Cyclo Sportif will continue as planned without interruption.
"We're still going ahead," he said. "We've spoken to the Roads and Maritime Services and received the go ahead from them.
"We already have safety measures in place with each bike equipped with a red flashing warning light and we'll put some more safety vehicles on the road along the route."
The Cyclo Sportif briefing takes place at 6am for a 6.30am start. with riders setting out from South Grafton to traverse the 228km trek toward Inverell. At midday a further 30 riders will set out from Mt Mitchell outside the Glen Innes Correctional Facility to complete the last 110km to Inverell.
An informal celebratory dinner for all participants in the ride will be hosted at the finish line tonight in Victoria Park.