Words: Sam Dixon | Photography: Adam Weathered | Date:
“Just keep pushing hard,” I heard someone call from the back of the group. “The pies are only five kilometres away.” As five turned to 10, and ten turned to 15 kilometres, I remember thinking, ‘When, if ever, have pies been the fuel that lit a peloton’s fire?’. But it worked, for suddenly there was Rapha Australia’s Andy Pike, standing in the middle of the road, grinning from ear to ear, and shouting: “Raid!”
A similar grin had greeted us about four hours earlier, as we pulled into Buck’s Barn, at the foothills of the Gold Coast hinterland on the Queensland-New South Wales border. I’m not sure how many Lycra-clad cyclists Buck has welcomed to his farm before but he didn’t bat an eyelid. “This is the good stuff, over here”, he said, pointing to a coffee urn on a table in the corner. “Organic, grown just up the road.”
In total, 180 cyclists converged on the farm in preparation for the day ahead. As they caught up with old friends (or tried to match new faces to their social media photos), the changeable weather had most contemplating their choice of equipment, tyre pressures and apparel. Many simply used this as an excuse to admire some beautiful machines, from local, European and American builders.
The 160km course would see us riding along the state border before heading south, around Mount Warning. I have ridden plenty of these roads before but never in succession. There’s only one way to link them up and, true to Gents Race tradition, that would come in the form of gravel – and plenty of it.
Our team, Team Crankstar, rolled out through the cane fields just after 8am and caught fellow Brisbane bunch, RFCC, shortly after. Working together, pulling turns at the front, moving back and sharing a story or two, we passed the spot where I’d gone down hard on a climb earlier in the year. Breaking my clavicle and rupturing my AC joint had meant three months off the bike and we all took it easy climbing through the fog that had, by now, rolled in; a silent nod or two came my way from those who knew that corner.
There were high-fives from the Deadkooks team when we stopped for a flat, and shortly after we caught the team from Baum Cycles. Somebody turned it up and those with fresh legs had a dig through a nasty wet gravel section, showing us that the boys from Melbourne felt right at home in the rain.
And so to that café raid. It had been the invite for the Rapha Gold Coast Gents’ Race that had first introduced us to what was once an occupational hazard for those with the misfortune of owning an establishment on a major European race route. Traditionally, it was the role of domestiques to enter and pillage supplies, much to the consternation of the café owners. On this occasion, the girls at Uki Pies were more sympathetic, as the best part of 200 cyclists piled into the small shop to load up on whatever food they could grab.
Pies devoured, bidons full and pockets laden with Anzac biscuits, we set off once more. The climb out of Uki was a long, slow and steady gravel section. As the kilometres ticked by, the group spread out, with everybody riding at their own tempo in ones and twos. Silence prevailed, no energy left for words. Red Dog passed us at the halfway point, a team riding strongly. I looked to my left at my team-mate, who turned to me with a wry smile, a ‘king of pain’.
The descent that followed was long, fast and loose. The bunch came back together with everybody’s spirits improving and, for a moment, the clouds parted and the sun warmed our aching bodies. Riders sat up, regaining the sensation in their arms or taking on fuel, welcoming the sunshine with hands outstretched to the sky. It didn’t take long for the weather to change again, as the wind picked up and a storm cell flanked us from the east. Heads down, 30 kilometres to go.
Of the 30 teams that started the day, all 30 finished and rolling back into Buck’s Barn, the man himself was working the grill. “Dig in, there’s plenty more.” Tables full, the barn spilling over with those enjoying a plate as the last teams came home, chocolate-dipped ‘banana cabanas’ were topped off with a recovery ale or two. As the stories continued between friends old and new late into the afternoon, the barn was alive with bodies beaten and spirits high.
|Team Name||Start Time||Finish Time||Time Taken|
|1||Because Fixie||07:30||15:09||7hr 39min|
|2||Rapha Condor Cycling Club||07:32||14:08||6hr 36min|
|3||Team BABA||07:34||14:36||7hr 02min|
|4||Ciao Bella||07:36||16:23||8hr 47min|
|5||Velox Tellum||07:38||14:40||7hr 02min|
|6||Bean Hunters||07:38||15:15||7hr 37min|
|7||Rapha Cycle Club Sydney||07:40||15:05||7hr 25min|
|8||Raphaty Rules||07:42||15:44||8hr 02min|
|10||Brisbane Pedal Pushers||07:46||15:46||8hr 00min|
|11||Commander Cody and his Lost Planet Airmen||07:48||14:38||6hr 50min|
|13||LeiÕd Back Cycling||07:52||14:54||7hr 02min|
|15||Cyc’d Cycling||07:56||15:09||7hr 13min|
|16||Re Della Strada||07:58||15:10||7hr 12min|
|17||Team Mongoose||08:00||14:33||6hr 33min|
|18||Vikings A||08:02||14:12||6hr 10min|
|19||CHEM Racing Team||08:04||15:38||7hr 34min|
|22||Rockit Barbershop||08:10||14:48||6hr 38min|
|23||Kangaroo Point Cycling Club||08:12||15:10||6hr 58min|
|24||Ruffled Feathers Cycling Club||08:14||15:32||7hr 18min|
|25||Crankstar Bespoke||08:20||14:56||6hr 36min|
|27||Dead Kooks||08:22||14:47||6hr 25min|
|28||2 Chugs CX||08:24||16:15||7hr 51min|
|29||Reddog Architects||08:28||15:11||6hr 43min|