A race by any other gnome happens to be called the Ferguson Valley Classic Road Race and this was the last race of our maiden season. New to racing road bikes, my mate Mitch and I were keen to stretch our road legs in this classic event.
With golden gnomes on our minds, we headed down to Dardanup in the South West region of Western Australia.
We set up our wind trainers near the town hall, ready for our 45 minute warm up.
On the start line, Mitch seemed extremely calm and ready to go but I was feeling butterflies, as I really wanted to win a golden gnome. Local South West Cycle Club rider Josh Commons, was lining up as our big competition.
The bloke that was doing the starts called out 30 seconds, 10 seconds, then 5, then 4, then 3, then 2, then 1, and, with a flourish from his umbrella, he shouted GO!
The race ambled away with a neutral leg, and immediately a rider broke away from the group. We did not chase and chose to leave him out there, however with his lead still getting bigger, another rider decided it was time to chase him down. At that point, the peloton realized the danger of these breakaways because, we knew that if they got to the top of the climb they would open a large gap that would be hard to close.
Josh Commons initiated a breakaway with around 5 riders in tow, then just as the pace had backed off and everyone had settled, out of nowhere Mitch calls out, “Up, Up,” as he came flying past me dragging Josh and another rider with him, causing our group to split.
We caught the breakaway at the foot of the climb, where Josh went again, this time getting away from us, so I chased him down with Mitch working with the other three to drag us back. Josh and I stayed at the front, creating a large gap that the other riders finally closed at just after the base of the descent, as we passed the turn off that we turned on to go up the climbs.
After that we had about 5kms to go, Mitch and I decided to do a small amount of work to save energy for the finish, which was obviously going to be a sprint. As we came down the final straights, we passed the 1km to go sign. I slotted in behind Josh and Mitch behind me. At around 200 meters to go there was a traffic barrier that the bloke with the blue helmet initiated the sprint round. After that it was a sprint to the line, Josh went next, going past the man with the blue helmet while Mitch and I followed. At around 100 to go I made my move coming round Josh to be neck and neck at the finish where I was able to take a win, while Mitch sprinted round the bloke in the blue helmet to take a well earned third, his first road race podium of the season.
At the presentations, we went up to the podium to accept our medals, with Mitch getting a bronze, Josh a silver, and myself the golden gnome..
And so, Mitch and I came away from Ferguson Valley, with a new little golden friend to share the journey home and big plans to secure him a mate from next year’s event.
Contributed by X-Speed Australia Cycle Club JM17 riders John Carter and Mitchell Spencer