Words: Caz Whitehead | Photography: Caz Whitehead & Beardy McBeard | Date:
October 2013 saw 33 teams come together for the Rapha Sydney Gentlemen’s Race. Riding out from the city and back, the 145km route took riders over a challenging loop that included remote gravel sections, 38 degree heat and stunning views.
The forecast was horrendous.
Thunderstorms and heavy downpours were predicted and talk of this circulated amongst the riders the night before. Descending could be sketchy at best. So preparations for a soggy day ahead were made. Race capes, gloves and caps were packed.
The sounds of rain in the morning, however, were missing over the noise of an early alarm. Outside, the air was still; it was already warm. Down at the start line, teams gathered. The sun was now shining, heating the tarmac. Coffee was flowing as the first starters left the line. Teams were sent off in staggered starts, hoping they’d all meet close to the finish. It was now very warm. Mid-thirties on the computers. Everything was hot. Water was running low.
Teams banded together, helping to share the load. Some stopped to borrow water from nearby houses, or a desolate looking café along the route. A reasonably long course, but the beauty was remarkable. Gravel sections next to wide rivers, overhanging rocks, incredible forest. Some teams arrived back together. Others in bits and pieces, letting go of their senses in the heat. Those who banded together ended sooner – teamwork was the key.
Salty jerseys and hungry stomachs filled the park, burgers were ordered and drinks were shared, and already legendary tales were being recalled. Eventually, the sunshine dipped and the temperature faded, the numbers dwindled. A story was made, and a hard day was over. Once the rain arrived that evening, heads had already found pillows, and the race was being recounted under clouds of sleep.