The final day was a billed as a double-header, with a 70km road stage in the morning and a 50km crit in the afternoon, so Pete, Jesse and Chris were in for a hard day. Canberra really turned on the style with a cold, wet day forecast, though we had clearish skies in the morning, so there was some hope. After reconfiguring the car to accommodate our newly promoted DS, Moosh, we headed off down to Manuka for some pre-race coffees. We were sure to do really well today with a 1:1 DS to rider ratio. I don’t think even Team SKY can boast that!
No sooner had we reached the café than it was straight into serious DS duty as *someone* left their gels at home. Dan volunteered to drive back to the house, though as the only non-coffee drinker (I know, right?!) there weren’t going to be any offers. The boys got their tyres pumped and headed off for the start at Stromlo, Dan picked up myself and Moosh and we drove over, quickly encountering the promised rain. Wet start, wet race.
Our car was relegated to position 15 in the convoy (position is based on your rider placings) so I updated the stickers and we were ready to roll out. The race itself was pretty uneventful for us. With no sharp turns we never saw the riders and only had intermittent, crackly commissaire announcements to keep us poorly informed of goings on up the front. Dan was driving, I was on comms & rider spotting duties and Moosh was Media Manager, gleefully sticking a GoPro in dropped riders’ faces and keeping his social media profile up to date.
The action down the back was pretty constant. Riders getting punctures in the wet, then coming back through the peloton. Riders getting dropped. Cars stopping to pick up kit dropped by riders. It was also cool looking back at times and seeing the fleet of flashing blue lights enforcing the rolling road closures. Given we were on some of Canberra’s bigger roads, the rolling closure was so tight that some punctured riders, whose team cars were towards the back of the convoy, found themselves outside the rolling closure and in regular traffic by the time their wheel had been changed. This required a call to the commissaires, followed by a police car dropping back to guide them back into the fold. That must have been a sight to behold for Little Johnny on his way to family breakfast – police car with lights flashing, being drafted by a team car, being drafted by some skinny, wet dude on a bike inches from the rear bumper
The stage finished in a sprint back at Stromlo, with stern warnings to the team cars not to follow the peloton onto the crit track. We had a couple of hours before the next stage, so the guys grabbed gilets and rode back to the house. Dan stayed to watch Ben & Grechy’s stage finish while myself and Moosh drove back, with a super slow section on the hard shoulder trying and failing to find Chris’ lost GoPro. The guys arrived back in the house cold, wet and wanting some hot food, so it was back out for some bacon & egg rolls followed by some cleaning of the house before checkout and packing the car ready for the drive back to Sydney after the final stage. Given it was a crit we didn’t need to worry about having to follow the peloton!
We returned to Stromlo. The rain was still falling and it was still cold. Enthusiasm levels were low. No-one was looking forward to an NRS crit in the rain. Once coats/jerseys were collected on the start line, the DSes didn’t have much to do, so we hung around the infield. Dan and Moosh shouted encouragement from the sidelines, I took some photos. We grabbed some towels from the car to give the riders to dry off after the race.
Jesse pulled the pin halfway through as expected. With the main event of his season the following weekend (2nd in NSW Elite U23 TT Champs as it happens, even with a puncture!!), it just wasn’t worth the risk of a crash in a wet crit with nothing at stake. The rain got worse shortly after and it was time to seek some cover. Chris and Peter soldiered on and finished in the bunch. Positive Pete seemed to have enjoyed himself a bit in the crappy conditions – closer to his native Dutch weather perhaps. Chris, however, was frozen solid – barely able to speak through chattering jaws. He grabbed a towel and headed straight for the showers to warm up. Final DS duties were to put the various bikes on the roof racks, remove and return the transponders and then bolt for the road back to Sydney. No-one was keen to hang around in the atrocious conditions.
So, first NRS race done. It was good fun, though fairly busy. Dan’s clearly done sterling work earlier in the season as he’s usually the lone DS sorting out everything himself and also providing his physio skills and massages to the riders as required. Chris also put in a few hours a day after the stage collating and editing the various video footage into the daily vignettes. It was also nice seeing how well the team gel together, the joy when someone does well, the concern when Moosh had crashed and the disappointment and remorse when planned tactics didn’t work out. All sprinkled with liberal amounts of piss-taking of course!
Rookie DS, over and out 😀