Casey-Cardinia Cycling Festival HPV 6 Hour Race, Sunday May 27th, 2007
Whilst a 3:30am start is not the ideal preparation for a race, it didn't stop the ExPats boys bringing home their second win in a row at the Casey 6 hour race on the weekend.
After arriving at the track and unpacking only to be told there was no cloth tape left to finish preparations at 7:30am on a Sunday wasn't the best way to start the race preparations. Trying to find the right coloured tape at that time of day proved difficult and time consuming, but manage the Team manager did. That just left the riding to do, and there started a different set of problems...
With only 4 riders compared to some other teams having several more, we had to work out our strategy to maximise way each rider could give us. This wasn't going to be easy given the C-J brothers hadn't done any exercise at all since the race in Tasmania a month ago as both had injured ankles, and a new rider to the team, Ryan Potter, not having raced in one of our trikes before.
Things were further complicated when Ty, our usual race starter was feeling too ill to be able to start. A rushed decision put Aaron out to start with instructions to just keep it circulating and stay in touch, the other guys could catch up laps later if need be. At the 70 minute mark, that plan wasn't looking so good. The BYR and Zebra boys had gone out quicker than Aaron could manage, and whilst he could have stayed out there much longer, we needed to start reeling the leaders back in.
Pit one saw Ty jumping in, still not feeling the best he was determined to at least catch Trisled who we were a lap and change down on 3rd place at the time. He steadily chipped away in the 2:50's despite having no water for the last 40 minutes, a dud ankle, and no fitness at all, this maniac pushed himself to the limit... and then a tad beyond. When he blacked out whilst riding on lap 22, the dirt thrown into the trike when he left the track woke him up, but he struggled to stay conscious and get back to the pits some 4 minutes later. Upon exiting the trike he again lapsed into unconsciousness whereupon Manager Tim (Dad) was alerted and with Daryl (Aaron's Dad) they managed to get him conscious and back on to path to recovery again. It did take a couple of hours before Ty was on his feet again and feeling better - we could tell he was feeling better as he was keen to get back in the trike again!
Just prior to all that drama unfolding in the pits, Kel had reported that he didn't know if he could even ride with the damaged tendons in his ankle. So 10 minutes before he was to ride he was sent down to the First Aid tent to get his ankle strapped, and the rest of us just hoped like hell it would be right. With that done, and Ty on the mend, Kel set about doing what he does best... tearing the opposition apart. Just as he did at the Maryborough Energy Breakthrough in 2006 where he did 132 laps at an average lap time of 1:59, Kel proceeded to plough his way through the field. Helped by some minor mechanical issues with BYR, Zebra and Trisled he took ExPats from 4th place, 3 and a half laps down, to 1st place at the end of his 75 minute stint. Not too shabby considering he didn't know if he'd be able to ride at all before getting in. The plan was coming together nicely...
Now we entered the area of the unknown - Ryan was up for his first ride for ExPats. He's known for his huge quads, and fueled by Red Bull he was ready to go! A 2 minute 53 second first lap, out of the pits, sight unseen on the track (Red Bull really does give him wings!) followed by another similar lap got the adrenaline out of his system and he then settled into a 1 hour and 45 minute stint mostly in the 2:50's! At the point in the race when we needed someone to get in there and grind it out, Ryan did the job. At the end of his solid stint he had us almost 2 laps in the lead, and with only just over an hour and 15 minutes left of the shortened race, tactics again became the order of the day.
Thanks to Ty spending a lot of pre-race time on making sure the trike was ready to go, we didn't have any mechanical issues during the race - a first for us. Which just goes to show there is something to be said for racing a race-proven trike. Yes, we did have tyre wear on the front left - running the same tyres that BYR started with. Our heavier trike (and better steering geometry which is well matched to these tyres) sat well on the road and did not wear as quickly. Compare that to Wonthaggi where due to a tiny floorpan rub on full lock we chewed through 3 tyres, and almost a 4th, during the race before we worked out what was going on.
To quote a well known Highview Teacher who's been involved with us in HPV racing for the last 5 years... PPPPPP: "Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance". Thanks for the reminder Terry!
With Ty out for the duration, Ryan having just ridden, and Kel not looking too flash, Aaron was sent out to just try and sit around 3 minutes. He managed that for first couple of laps then drifted north of the 3 minute barrier. Constant calculations continued every lap to see at what rate BYR was eating into our lead. As long as we stayed out of trouble, and Aaron could last, no one was going to catch us. Even with Rowan and Callan from BYR going much faster at this stage, we'd built a big enough buffer that we could take it a bit easier and still be alright. With 10 minutes to go it looked like the plan had worked... Until without warning Aaron pitted with cramps. No one was ready to swap with him. Aarrghgh... Panic...
Kel quickly put his shoes on and jumped in to ride out the last two laps keeping us still a lap and change ahead of BYR for our second straight 6 hour race win. Thanks again to Pit Chief Stewie McGinty, he's always there to help out, and to the Potter, Stewart and Chaffey-Jones families that traveled down to support and assist the team on the day. Thanks also to Mick McTigue for sourcing some Schwable's Stelvio tyres for us at short notice.
Ryan Potter, Ty Chaffey-Jones, Kel Chaffey-Jones, Aaron Stewart
Lessons learnt, as we do every race, will help to ensure our tilt at the Murray Bridge 24 hour, and Maryborough Energy Breakthrough 24 hour (most of our riders still ride for their school teams, Highview & Regional, at that event) events are successful. Simple things like turning up fit will also help!
It's amazing to note how different trikes perform better at different tracks. Due to the extra reinforcing in the current ExPats trike it weighs in at just north of 28Kg. That extra weight, and it's lower profile helped it deal with the wind at Casey better than some of the larger and lighter trikes. Those same characteristics were also a problem at Wonthaggi earlier in the year where the extra weight made it hard to get back up to speed. So fast flowing tracks like Casey, Maryborough, and Murray Bridge seem to suit us.
We're about to start building a new mold/canopy and trike for Murray Bridge that will allow us to have a slightly wider track which will further improve our cornering speed/stability, and get some of the whingers off our backs about our current track width - which is only as a result of the canopy mold we helped build ending up narrower than planned, and not some evil scheming on our part :-P