Readers of this blog last week would have probably had the impression that Tour of Bright was the biggest and most prestigious race in Vic in December. What I forgot to mention was that ToB also serves as a warm up to THE event of the year, the TE Christmas Handicap.
TE is the bunch I ride with on weekends and I'd safely say it's one of the best organised bunches in Melbourne. Prerequisites to riding with the gentlemen of TE include a penchant for mountains, a fondness for biodynamic pinot and the ability to reel off your PBs for all the major climbs in Victoria. Riding with guys like Mick, Steve, JB and Rudy (and many, many others) is a sure fire way to keep the lactic in your legs and your ego in check.
The Christmas Handicap (a climb up Kinglake) was my get-rich-quick scheme for December as I had put all my rent money on Dave O'Brien getting up for the win. Quicksilver O'Brien looked sharp and his recent meteoric rise in form had me confident that he would be first over the line. QOB's form, however, had not escaped the eagle eye of handicapper and chief commisaire SPK Knight. A couple of late scratchings due to sickness and ill-timed general anaesthetic (get well soon Rudy & JB) left the peleton considerably lighter, and the heavy hand of the handicapper was felt by Mick, Zander and SOB, who found that starting scratch at 34 minutes on a 20 minute climb was a gap even their lightning fast climbing couldn't bridge. Even the Cervelo Test Team sent their newest signing Sharon Laws over with the hope of bringing back the prestigious T.E.C.H trophy to their pool room in Switzerland.
In the end, it could have been either the new bike, the happy legs or the heavy bribe I offered the handicapper, but I made it over the line first and became the 3rd proud wearer of the TE polka-dot jersey (pic above), which has already been delivered to Fitzroy Revolution to be proudly displayed until the next handicap in 2010. Special mention to the 7 PBs smashed today for the Kinglake climb, including Steve, SOB, Mark and Mick who I think all recorded times in the 17 minute-bracket!?! My climb time was 18m35, a PB by almost 40 secs. Hurray for Donna's 2hr ergo sessions! They are working...
The best part of the morning, though, was the christmas cake and coffee session afterwards at Smiths Gully. What a great way to cap off another year with TE.
Next week - Adelaide!