The first ever Thunderbolt Roubaix ride held on Sunday April 7 seems destined to be the first of many, judging from the reaction of the riders. Setting off from Armidale on a perfect Sunday morning, the bunch rode the normal route to Uralla, before heading for Gostwyck and the first of many highlights, the Gostwyck Church with the leaves of the Virginia Creeper in full autumn colours.
We then headed past the Deearge shearing shed (that’s the octagonal shaped one), arriving at the first dirt sector a couple of k’s down the road. And it wasn’t too bad: in fact at this point Phil Thomas was overheard saying he thought it was a bit soft! Turning onto Mihi Road, PC scored the first flat tyre, with Wilfried the second shortly afterwards. But after that it was plain sailing all the way to town.
An easy dirt sector along Black Lane and Elliots Road followed, before Phil was forced to eat his words with a tough little climb up Knobs Hill Road before heading down Simmons Road and onto Dangarsleigh Road. Then it was on to the track for the two lap finale, and it was there that Ray made his move while everyone else seemed to be practising their track stands (not really!), and rolled across the finish line in the lead.
Coffee and cake at the finish thanks to Kim Swan really hit the spot after such a fantastic ride. And as already noted, barely a flat tyre in sight. Even Kenny had to admit his initial concerns about riding on the dirt were unfounded (mostly anyway).
There were a number of interesting bike choices for the ride, including Phil Thomas on an old steel framed Gitane from the late 70’s (complete with an original Garmin), PC on an old AIS frame, and Lachie and Col on their classic Colnagos (Lachie’s is in fact the same as the bikes ridden by the Mapei team when they were winning Paris-Roubaix in the 90’s). And there were a few heads shaking at the state of Ray’s back tyre before the ride, with the tube visible through the casing in a number of places! Amazingly it held together without a problem for the full 82km’s (hang on to that tyre Ray, it’s obviously a good one).
But Bourkey took the prize with his old Jock Bullen special, which Jock built himself from solid lead pipes. It was at least 20kg, and proved to be a real handful on the hills. Of course that didn’t faze Bourkey one bit, although he did confess to having jelly legs the next day.