This weekend my club has been hosting its biggest junior road event of the year, the Telstra Junior Tour of Sydney. While none of my own kids were riding, I put my hand up to help out and promptly found myself ride chaperoning about twenty 12-year olds around the Eastern Creek race track in Sydney’s west on Saturday morning. It was a lot of fun, albeit almost a little embarrassing at one stage.
One of the faster and more strategic kids – the eventual winner as things turned out – kept using a long steady climb into the finishing turn of each lap to really test the rest of the bunch. Every lap he’d attack in the same spot, drawing away and forcing the others to bust a gut to chase back on by the end of the finishing straight. This meant the bunch were well and truly knackered as each new lap began and the pace invariably slowed (it occurred that this would have been the perfect time for one of the other kids to attack, of course, but that’s for another post – and on-road coaching is strictly forbidden!).
On one of the five laps, however, something else happened – and I still don’t really know why. I was just spinning along at the back, taking in the morning in a decidedly leisurely way when suddenly one of the kids called out “attack!” Then as if in some kind of pre-meditated move to drop me, the entire bunch rose out of their saddles as one and smashed out the 12-year old power in perfect unison. Cirque du Soleil would have been proud.
It was actually pretty funny at first watching all these little Greipels, Cavendishes and Kittels bouncing up and down on the pedals like they were on crazed pogo sticks – until I realised I was in the wrong gear and before i knew it they’d put 50m on me. Shit.
It took about 500m to catch up again and while I wasn’t wearing my HRM I’m pretty sure my heart went well into overdrive there for a couple of minutes. Fortunately, whilst they’re certainly quicker than you might think when they put their minds to it, the one thing 12-years old don’t have a whole lot of is stamina – and before long they all pretty much stopped for a collective breather as I tacked back on pretending as if I’d been there all along.
Phew, I remember thinking at that time, lucky it didn’t happen in front of all those parents on the home straight.
After this flurry of activity, things calmed right back down for the remainder of the race which ended with a nice clean sprint. And me thankfully not too far behind.