A special race

Lara Devenish Memorial Criterium
PDDC D grade
8 February 2015

This race was personal, when I started racing almost 3 years ago, I was racing with Lara. In her first race, she attacked on the climb on Bodeman Road on the final lap at Wandi. I chased, caught her, we swapped turns until the final corner. When I like a gentleman, I launched my sprint from the front and early as we rounded the corner. Only to be caught on the line, with Lara winning by 0.02 of a second.

The next two years I spent racing Lara, hanging on the back of D grade, with both of us cornering badly and launching ill timed attacks. The best thing about racing Lara was at the end of a race you ended up with a smile on your face, she was one of the characters that made racing fun.

Unfortunately, last year Lara chose to end her life. Her family, friends and the club organised the D grade race in her memory. I was not the only rider from C grade participating, Scott one of the five riders from that wet and windy day in Wandi 3 years ago was there, along with Dani and Rich.

I was not racing to win, I was there to participate, the best result I could imagine was to lead out a D grade rider in the sprint and finish second. After a lap as ticket collector and finding out there are many more riders in D grade who corner worse than me. I went to the front with a plan to control the pace and make sure nobody launched a successful attack.

I just rode at a pace I was comfortable with, apparently a little faster than D grade was use to. There was a single attack in the first 25 minutes and I dragged the bunch back to Dani’s wheel fairly quickly. I spent most of the time on the front, Scott did his share and Clint was the only D grader to put his nose into the wind.

After 25 minutes Dani launched another attack and got a gap. I was sitting at the back and saw the bunch pick the pace up a little, but Dani maintained the gap. The attack this far out, reminded of Lara, so I decided it was time to go help. One of my issues when racing D grade was my lack of top end speed when sprinting, I could not hit 50kph. Well I launched my attempt to bridge gap as we turned onto the start finish straight, I peaked at 52kph and averaged 47kph for the length of the straight, including easing back as I caught Dani.

I did not ease back enough, as Dani tried to kick to get on my back wheel she promptly blew up. Half a lap later, Dani was back in the pack and I had a small gap. I had plenty left in my legs and could of easily kept going. I did not want to be seen as dominating the race, so I eased right back. Got onto the front of the bunch and tried to stretch the bunch every corner. After a lap of surging, C grade came past. They had just past us when the bell went.

I hit it hard, flew past C grade and turned onto the back straight and into the wind. It felt like a hit a brick wall, got caught, managed to hang on as fifth wheel, behind one of the better sprinters in D grade. Out of final the corner, the D graders who had been sitting in, accelerated hard and I was gone. I finished mid pack. But that did not really matter, I was there to race for a friend.

As the winner said in his speech “We would rather being racing with Lara than racing in he memory”

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