2015 Ride Report – Port Dominates the 2015 Grafton to Inverell Sportif

Ride Report – Port Dominates the 2015 Grafton to Inverell Sportif
(Jason English, Chris Delaney, Greg Linsdell, Col Turner, Phil Job and Ryan Barker on the line as the drizzle gradually builds to rain).
Despite severe weather warnings a hardened bunch of Port riders made the journey to Grafton for this year’s Grafton to Inverell Sportif. At 6.30 am they took to the line among 61 riders from the 200 riders who had paid their entry fee. Filled with fearsome stories of past years (thanks John) and many words of wisdom centring on the daunting Gibraltar Climb the mood was relaxed, if not a little soggy.
The one-way nature of this ride means that support vehicles are essential, and PMCC had 3 of these captained by extraordinary teamsters, Simon Bank, Phil Turner and Dean Geddes These guys played leapfrog with peloton making sure their riders were fully equipped, hydrated and fed with minimum time lost at each station.
Groups of 20 set off in 5 minute intervals with the Port riders electing to start at the back preferring to hunt rather than be hunted. It seems everyone in our group of 20 had got the same memo about not heading off too hard, so when the race began there was no early break aways or surges, in fact the pace was reminiscent of a coffee ride for at least the first 30 kms. Getting impatient the Port riders started to up the pace and before long split their group and passed the majority of riders in the previous 2 groups leaving only the strongest riders on the hill ahead to round up.
At 70 ks the Gibraltar Climb begins, 15 kms at an average of 6% with a formidable reputation for breaking the resolve of the strongest riders. By now the peloton had broken into smaller groups of 3 or 4, and so it was no surprise when Chris and Jason steadily pulled away on their way to the summit.
With the climb out of the way the real fun begins with long rolling hills over the Gibraltar Range right through to Glen Innis. Greg was now left in no-man’s land while Phil and Ryan pooled resources and worked together. Across the top the rain set in and the temperature had dropped so cold was becoming an issue. By now Jason had learned that his waterproof socks, with a hole for his feet to go in at the top, were not good at keeping the rain out, but were terrific at keeping it in. The result being a gumboot like effect with his feet rapidly turning to prunes as they bathed in an ankle deep rain water.
As the race progressed Jason and Chris worked together to round up the final two riders who latched on just before Glen Innis. Working together this group of 4 held a solid pace till about 15 kms from the end when Jason edged away on a climb. Rather than pursue his teammate and risk bringing across the other two riders Chris sat on the two Sydney riders as Jason increased his lead, gradually and eventually irrecoverably as the finish line drew near. When it was clear Jason was away Chris was free to compete for second place which he achieved with masterful tactics in the final kilometre making it Port 1 and 2 with Greg coming in 5th with Col Turner hot on his heels.
High drama followed with Ryan being caught up in a crash just 100 meters from the finish when two riders ahead of him came down in tyre wash out. Ryan assisted the casualties until the ambulance arrived.

Then, despite having come down hard himself, finished the ride before going for a check-up at the local hospital on the advice of the paramedics. Fortunately there’s no permanent damage and he will survives to ride another day.