Caleb Jones spends his days shaping the minds of the next generation in the classroom. Once the bell rings, he is on his bike and riding with his team mates as part of GPM – Wilson Racing in the National Road Series.

So far this year Caleb has raced in the UCI 2.2 Tour of Azerbaijan, Iran and also the UCI 2.2 Tour of Borneo. Which is certainly a little different to our Akuna Bay-West Head road races or riding around Eastern Creek. However this race report is about his experience in this years Grafton to Inverell. Coming into the race, Caleb was one of the pre race favourites, his race report gives you an insight into what it is like to race in a NRS road race and the tactics that go into an elite level race that spans 228km.

This piece originally appeared on Caleb’s blog – www.calebjones.com.au

52 years the Grafton to Inverell race has been running and it still manages to produce some different and exciting bike racing. Last year people were saying it was the first time they had seen the break not go before the climb. This year we looked all set for a bunch finish which again had people saying I have never seen a Grafton like this before!

The 2012 edition of the race again was able to pull out a ripper of a last race of the season. The gun was fired in the historic town of Grafton at one minute past eight and the ninety strong field was rolling under race control through the beautiful, Jacaranda shaded streets heading west towards Inverell. The first forty minutes of racing was very fast and very aggressive and many were struggling to find their legs, until a break of fifteen or so moved clear of the main bunch after the first KOM at 25km. A well represented group with 3 riders from Genesys, 2 from Budget and 3 from our team GPM – Wilson Racing. Ed White again managed to find his way in the move a long with The Rock ( Sam Rutherford) and Jake ‘SOK’ Magee. We were happy with the break but were cautious that the group didn’t get too much of a gap.

As we reached the Gibraltar Range (17km @ 5.5%), the break had a gap of around 5 minutes. First 5km of the climb was HARD! Heart rate 190bpm 25+km/h, it was on. Two Budget riders attacked were quickly out of sight on the Gibraltar’s twisty winding road. Jory, Wong and I all rode within ourselves up the climb knowing that there was still 160km to race.

 

Once we reached the top of the climb a few members of the bunch were riding on the front hard to bring the break back. I went back to the car and spoke to Trent and he explained the situation in the break. Two Budget riders are away and the break has sat up… It was a very strange situation, two riders from the same team off the front with no one chasing. By the time the main bunch caught the break away, the two Budget riders had a five minute gap on the bunch. We put two riders on the front, White and Wong to join three Genesys riders, in an attempt to bring the two lone leaders back before the finish.

With 20km to go we hit the wire gully climb where Jory and I attacked the field towards the top, all this managed to do was split the field in two, as there were still twenty or so riders left. The attacks came think and fast in the last thirty minutes of racing, but it appeared that everyone left in the group were still very fresh. With the leaders in sight but still over a minute gap with 3km, we knew we were only racing for 3rd place.

Speaking with Jory after the race, he said ”The bunch sprint for third was a little wild as is most sprints when you have 230km in the legs, but in the end I finished 5th, Sam was 6th and Caleb was 8th.”

Although we had missed the podium the whole team rode super strong all day and with 3 riders in the top 10 we to finish 2nd in the team’s classification. The Grafton concludes the 2012 NRS season and all that was left for the team was to have a couple of drinks at the Aussie hotel in Inverell to celebrate the end of a long and hard season.

The next race for me will probably be in January, so a bit of time off now, with some easy riding and beach time before the training starts for Nationals.