OK my first 'as promised race' last night. Kew boulevard loop run by the Hawthorn Cycling Club. Spoke to Ray Blucher at his shop to get the lowdown and signed up (lovely chap. one of those guys that genuinely oozes enthusiasm!). goals in order 1 - not to crash 2 - to finish 3 - not get dropped oh well, 2 outta 3 aint bad, as the fat bloke sang. D-grade. 30 minutes plus 3 laps we are told by the starter. I start with the Dgrade crowd (i think they start 1 minute before the C's who go round at the same time). D's go forth up the hill and we all shuffle about and try and settle down on a wheel. There is a field of approx 20 in Dgrade (there were only 10ish last week and a few of the faces this week I recognise from last weeks C grade. just great!) We go around fro 3-4 laps and 'accordian' in and out like a caterpillar every time we hit the straights. The hill brings us all together. Not feeling too bad. Hey, maybe I can do this, me thinks. I look down. 6 minutes gone. oh boy! After about 5 laps Cgrade can be heard coming up behind, and wouldnt you know it but its as we approach the sharp U-turn. As we had all been lectured at the start to stick left and not 'hang-on' to C's, I sat up a bit. I was about 15th wheel in the D-line at that point. We go around the corner, Most of the D's are off and heading up the hill, Im hesitating making sure I make that corner smoothly and very left so as not to get shouted at, and that's all she wrote!!! Me and about 3 other D's are a good 200m off the lead pack now. Bugger. Point 3 in my plans failed Oh well, perhaps if we work together we can get them back (apologies for not knowing the lingo guys/gals). By the time we approach the Uturn again I realise they are pulling away. Nobody is helping and Im just pulling them along. Come on guys! Decision time. 10 minutes gone. 20+ to go. I step it up a few kph and 2 stay with me. Then one. Bugger! "Im stuffed", he says. "Let's just finish" i reply. I delude myself that if we keep to a pace we can slowly bring em back again. 4-5 more laps the two of us go harder. We are only very slowly bringing them back. I can glimpse them every time we approach the Uturn. "Im gonna give it a spurt", I say back to the other guy as we round the Uturn and stomp up the hill. I reach the top and look down seeing I am doing 35kph up the hill. C grade seem to do that almost every lap, but I aint got too many of them in me. I look back to see how my mate is doing. He's gone!!! Bugger, bugger, bugger!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Im on my own. 18 minute mark. This aint fun anymore guys. come back and play with the rookie... Grind, grind. Go hard on the hill and try and hide from the southerly on the downhill. Many laps go by and I see nobody apart from a few guys who are warming up for A/B grade. Then I see them! about 5 D's are up ahead. for 3 laps I get nowhere. Who's idea was this? Oh yeah... mine! 25 minutes gone. 2 more laps and I am within about 200m. Maybe I can do this after all. If only they would just momentarly ease up. with only a few minutes to go until the bell I knw that's not likely. I decide to see what I can make. 2 hard laps and Im within 100m. Im knackered!!! And then it happens... 3 of them get dropped at the Uturn and are obviously spent. Adrenaline is a wonderful thing (why doesnt it come in a drink form???). I go hard again up the hill and get 1 one of the guys. the other 2 are trying to get back onto the others up ahead. C grade come past again and i think 2 of the stronger D's lap me. Oh well, Im not last i justify to myself. 2 laps to go the marshall shouts out. cramping slightly in my left leg (its always my left. what's with that?????????) Im about 50m behind the D'ers. The others up ahead have gone. their race is just starting i guess... I pass the 2 going down the last hill. May as well have some fun! Im stomping just for the hell of it, cruise up the last hill and catch another D'er, the girl on the nice Paconi ( sad i know but this little black duck has some semblence of male pride ) i roll over the finish line and nobody looks at me nd I start to panic there is one more lap! "What about D?" i say. "Youre finished". ........Relief. I turn around and go stand with the other D's. Some of them know each other but most of us just stand around awkwardly. So that was it. Roll back around the the bottom at the Uturn and the others I had passed are sitting to one side. I try and figure out what, if anything I jsut did. Im guessing i finished about 14th out of 20 which is reaaly crap but Im philosophical about it. I didnt fall I finished I got dropped. Man it must be so much easier riding in a pack. Mental note. try and hangon next time Great fun. Feel like a big kid. Shall be there next time, trying to learn a bit more..... The 'Not-so-FlyingDutchman'