Jason Blanch and Andrew Swan have both finished the 2012 edition of Grafton to Inverell, held on Saturday 27 October 2012. Both lined up in a large C grade field of around 100 riders, with Blanchy finishing 8th in a time of 7:14:10, and Swan 40th in 7:19:41.
As usual the 17km climb up the Gibralter Range proved decisive with a group of six riders leading the way. Blanchy was in the next group of a dozen or so riders over the top not far behind, and then led the chase on the break. Although the catch never quite happened, he still had the legs to attack his group on the final climb out of Elsmore, and just managed to hold on for a top 10 finish.
Given that Blanchy had only been training (i.e. riding) for 8 weeks and didn’t just ride to make the distance, this would have to be one of the rides of the year for our club.
The riders were ably supported by their crewmen Peter Wilkinson and Lachie McPhie, with Wilko putting in a highly impressive effort on the Friday night: in the space of a couple of hours he met with the majority of the movers and shakers involved with the race, ate a pie, had half a dozen schooners, and downed a plate of oysters Kilpatrick, followed by a main of “steak and ribs” consisting of a whole rump from a Charolais steer and a couple of small pigs. And generally kept everyone entertained and relaxed with stories no one had heard before … not that we’re admitting anyway.
It was also great to see Geoff Straub back on the bike and riding in A grade with Brendan Jones’ Aussie Hotel Inverell team, which included last years’ winner Mark Jamieson.
Throw in the much appreciated support of the Creagan family from Glen Innes onwards and it all added up to a great weekend. The only modification for next year is that Andrew Swan will not be allowed to arrange the accommodation.