Son inspires dad to ride
LUCKY for Grafton cyclist Michael White his mum is due out from England in a few weeks, because she is not too keen on what he's about to do today.
Michael, 49, and his 19-year-old son Matt, will take part in today's Grafton to Inverell Cycle Classic riding 228km up the Gibraltar Range to the finish line.
"Mum's told me not to do it," Michael said. "She told me I'm far too old for this type of thing."
It will be the first time the father and son have raced in the classic event and they will each approach the race in a different way.
Michael, who has been riding with the Grafton Cycle Club for the past 12 months, seduced into the sport by his son who has been riding for around three years, has modest hopes in the race.
"I'll be just happy to finish in whatever time it takes," he said.
Matt has been training harder, racking up 400-500km a week in training, but even that will not be enough to be competitive.
"The top riders have been doing 600km to 700km a week," he said.
The pair have been doing extra training.
They have been doing Saturday club rides together and Matt also hits the roads on most weekdays to get the kilometres into his legs.
It was while he was supporting his son Michael decided to start competing.
"We've been going to watch Matt race since he took up cycling and last year I decided I would give it a go," Michael said.
"My first competition ride was the weekend after last year's Grafton to Inverell."
For Matt, eligible to compete in the event for the first time, today's ride will be fulfilment of an ambition thwarted.
"Last year I wanted to ride in the 19s, but there was a mix-up," he said.
Although an A-grade club rider, Matt will take his place among the 314 starters this morning in the B-grade peloton.
Michael will ride in the C-grade event and will be hoping to join up with Matt in Inverell.
The Gwydir Hwy will be closed to eastbound traffic at Bald Knob-Dundee Rd (25km east of Glen Innes) from 6am until 1pm, and to westbound vehicles at Tindal Rd, Eatonsville (15km west of Grafton) from 8am until 1pm.
The Gwydir Hwy will be closed for the safety of competitors, support vehicles and the non-event community while cyclists taking part in the cycle classic climb the Gibraltar Range.
At all other times, cyclists will be under the escort of police and official race vehicles. Motorists are advised to keep an eye out for cyclists and obey all road signs and directions given by police and traffic controllers.