2020 Cloudride Prologue 500 Wrap
Primary intent of introducing the Cloudride Prologue has been to provide an entry level event that opens it to the wider bike riding community. We’ve all seen the explosion of ‘gravel bikes’ over the past few years and the merging of fast rigid fork MTB’s into composite drop bar race bikes for bikepacking racing. At 500k over generally fast rolling shire roads with a few testing Fire Trail sections to mix it up the Prologue is intended as a tempting challenge for those wanting to go off grid and experience life after paved roads without having to fit out with a full ‘bikepacking’ kit. Lightweight sleep/tent/bivvy can be expensive and surplus weight ….if you can do the business without.
Last year’s Prologue winner Aaron Thomson showed it was possible riding through for a 1d:06h:29m finish. This year Thomson threw his card into the ring early with the intent of dishing out the pain and doing the same, again …. others followed. Some social media gossip suggested there was hidden intent and talent imbedded in the start list. With race eve beckoning Thompson scratched with accumulated work, family pressures …. leaving the pretenders to occupy the void. Who were they? The exposed talent [from 2019] pointed to Paul Brodie, Rowan McMurray and serious experienced bikepackers capable of putting away long hours, Trev Fairhurst and Frank Zeller.
The opening hours indeed saw the cream rise to the top. Brodie and rookie racer Trevor Spencer mixed it along the challenging Naas Valley FT with Anthony Newman and Seb Wende close behind.
Out into the open rolling country across to Nimmitabel as the sun set [google google] race roadie Trevor Spencer’s [ex Oliver’s NRS Team] form was exposed as he opened out a small gap. Paul Brodie was rounded up by Wende and Newman.
Back in the pack there was plenty of solid kilometres being put away by the mid pack riders Adaminnaby [122k] and Berridale [184k] being picked off and Nimmitabel 236k … well after closing hours but still in sight for some.
The welcoming temptation of a complimentary instant coffee and microwave at the Numeralla Tennis Club provided some brief respite for the front runners but it was from here that the flaw in rookie Trevor Spencer’s ride plan unfolded … it became apparent he was riding on an earlier V4.gpx version of the route that headed East via roads that had been closed in the preceding week and deleted from the race route. In short, with outside assistance Spencer regrouped, returned to Numeralla and chased down the now leading pair of Wende and Newman. Catching them and needing their assistance negotiating through a difficult FT section to Peak View Rd.
Spencer was then able to reconnect with the race route through to Kowen Forest where he again deviated off the race route [Mill Post Rd] on to his earlier .V4 route. On arrival in Canberra Spencer effectively self relegated, stopping a few K’s before the finish allowing Seb Wende and Anthony Newman, who had ridden together for a good part of the race, to finish at 9:03am for a winning time of 1d:03h:03m.
Trevor Spencer arrived an honourable third at 9:38am.
I’ve now disengaged the auto finish function on the Maprogress race tracker so riders actual tracking points are visible.
In summary, it was a very impressive collective race by all. No doubt Trevor Spencer was the strongest rider and will be the wiser for the experience and the fundamentals of preparation and attention to detail…. for most this is a learning experience, as intended!
Great race and accomplishment from Seb and Anthony
for a first up clean run.
Riding together, intended or circumstance can have it’s challenges … adding a third rider adds another dimension ....hope they can all exchange Christmas cards down the track.
For me, the real success of the 2020 Prologue was to see all riders pushing through to finish well inside three days…. congratulations to all who finished! Special mention to our lady riders Laura, Karen and Emma [the latter Tinderry Trail Angels] … you are Cloudride ambassadors for the future, go get more gals!
And to Phil Mathewson at 69 … 96 aint that far away Phil hang in there!
In closing I'd like to give special mention to those who helped roll out this years Grand Depart. I've been absent on a work contract in WA and had to rely on support from other riders and friends. So thanks to Ray and Bea Barnett for SPOT allocation and getting riders tracking. Ty Domin for the start pics 'herding cats' and the bike porn. My wife Anne and Natalie Fairhurst for the START countdown and waking the neighbours with bells and whistles!