David Menarry’s trip to Glasgow
I recently competed in the 2023 UCI Gran Fondo World Championships in Perth (Scotland) after qualifying at Amy’s Gran Fondo (Victoria) in September last year. This year was the first time that they combined all cycling disciplines at the same event – I also managed to visit the elite track and men’s road racing, both in Glasgow.
After what seemed like an interminable training program, race day arrived. It was relatively cool and dry, making perfect racing weather. Released in 5-year age groups, the first challenge was avoiding road furniture on the roads out of Perth. The 160km course was largely rolling terrain with three longish climbs, all less than 10 kms each.
The first climb determined the race outcome. My 180-strong age group split into two main bunches. Unfortunately – due to poor positioning on my part – I ended up in a small third bunch between the two, and despite best efforts (on my part at least …) we couldn’t bridge back to the first group.
Riding the middle third of the race as a group of 8 to 10 was extremely tough. It included all three major climbs and by the top of the third I was well and truly cooked, so much so that I couldn’t jump on to the fastest women (who had started 5 minutes behind us) as they passed towards the top of the third climb.
That also resulted in the breakup of our small group, and I found myself solo for a few kms. Thankfully I was able to stay with the third bunch of women, who were extremely motivated to catch the first two groups, and after another 10kms or so we managed to catch the faster women and those of our small group who had been able to stick with them.
The final third of the race was actually quite relaxed. The women raced their race, and we sat behind them as they dragged us along. There was no pressure on us because we weren’t close to the front, and we didn’t want to interfere with the women’s racing.
In the end I finished 120th out of 172 and 6th out of 15 Australians in my age group. I had hoped for top half, but my poor positioning into the first climb was the kiss of death for that. Nevertheless, I was happy to have finished (no certainty given the length of the race!) and the scenery and experience were wonderful. Racing with people from countries across the world was a privilege, one I was delighted to share with Nancy Tippaya, who always inspires me.