Stage 5. Bright to Beechworth. 92.5km, 2297m alt gain, 1924m alt loss.
I was feeling pretty good about todays stage as I rolled up to the start line. The day before had been a massive hurdle and I felt I had cleared it and was now on the downhill run. The only problem with that was that noone had told the organisers of the race!
While physically I was in good shape mentally it was hard to get up for the start and to want to attack the first part of the course. I guess that a 14km climb up Mount Porepunkah will do that to you though. You heard right, 14km up. Granted this climb was at a very manageable 8% or so it was still long and had a couple of evil little pinches to throw the rhythm and max out the heart rate. I felt pretty settled after a couple of K's of turning the legs over but was having real issues just setting my head right. There was heaps of adrenaline and a healthy dose of fear for the day before but there was a very real sense of anti climax for this stage which made the ride feel like a chore.Once we were over the first climb it was a very fast, fun descent down into the valley and a nice cruisey traverse across to the next feed stop. Vegemite and nutella sangers were consumed and we were on our way again. The fires in the boiler room had been re lit. I could smell the finish line. The tempo on the climbs went up and the descents became eye watering plunges into the valleys.
There was a very real feeling that this was the final hurdle in a week full of hurdles. I knew I could eat up the final two days in my sleep and wow did that put a rocket up my arse! As the 85km mark ticked over we knew we had climbed the last hill for the day. It was all down hill to the line now. Big dog engaged, attack formation and let 'er rip! The run to the line was blisteringly quick and we only took the foot of the gas as we entered the university grounds where the finish line was. We were joking and pinning along and then I heard it.
Click, click, buzz. Gears changing and wheels winding up to speed. I looked back and there were 2 guys coming up fast. I yelled at Spence to gas it. He looked at me and shrugged. "Go, fuck ya!" So he did and after 5 days of racing and being at the back of the field we sprinted. We had no chance of catching the 2 guys in the general classification, no chance of improving our overall position but I was sick of being beaten over the line. It was the single most futile effort I have ever undertaken but it felt good. We smoked them. As we crossed the line I was cackling and hollering like I had won a stage of the Tour de France. We slapped the hands of the guys in the sprint and laughed some more. Great finish to the day.