Luke Meers looks back at the 2022 Bowral Classic and glances forward to the looming Snowy Classic in Jindabyne.
More than 3000 riders took to the start line of the 2022 Bowral Classic held in October, with the next stop for Classics fans being the Snowy Classic on April 1, 2023.
It seems like yesterday I was lining up to ride the inaugural Bowral Classic in 2016.
Back then it certainly felt like it was the start of something new, particularly for New South Wales. These days each of the four national events feels more like a staple in the suite of established Gran Fondos. Each of the Classics has its own feel, and the Bowral Classic is fantastic, drawing thousands of keen cyclists of all abilities to participate in any of the options on offer over the weekend.
…For 2023 the Classics organisers are offering riders the opportunity to earn a Black Sheep Classics Jersey…
Here is how that perfect October Sunday panned out for the 150km ‘Highlander’ group.
Arrival: The 630am start time, for those riding off in the early groups, means cool and dark conditions. I love the anticipation at the start line where hundreds of cyclists are crammed into the start, listening to Lee Turner and others pump everyone up, being reminded “it’s not a race” while balancing the internal ying and yang of knowing and not knowing what’s ahead.
The start: The first part of the ride is nice, the group is mostly tentative, with a few little leg openers on some of the early hills to let everyone know what the day has in store. The cool conditions mean most people have started with a few layers of kit. Whilst it feels about right during this first hour, it inevitably means that some disrobing will be necessary at some stage as the clear day warms.
The Ride: I was riding as part of the Highlanders group. This is the first group to start and usually contains a good crew keen to ride quickly. Inevitably, it means the throttle will get opened up on some of the hills and the group that was mostly rolling through nicely in the early stages will eventually splinter.
The key early point in our group (and I’m sure for many doing the maxi 150km ride) was Oxley hill 35 kilometres in.
This ‘little’ climb is 1.3km at just under 10 per cent. I knew my legs were not great going in and sure enough they were exposed on this climb. I was about 30 metres behind the front six or so as we crested the top. Not far, but far enough to ensure I would never see them again. Whilst that was ideal, often life’s setbacks provide the best opportunities, and so it was here. I regrouped with a few behind and we had a nice little bunch of seven or so that included Brodie Chapman – now the Aussie National Champion!
Alas, the relative peace of rolling steady turns as a bunch cannot continue forever. I sense our group starting to grow a little tired and two of us push on together at a slightly faster pace. Eventually, I’m enjoying the scenery on my own.
One of the lovely things about the Bowral & Snowy Classics is that there are riders everywhere, so even riding solo there is plenty of encouragement on the course.
Surely this is why we do these rides! The challenge of the ride itself is made all the sweeter by the sense of shared accomplishment with the crowd of friends and strangers gathered at the village.
Tired bodies, eating, drinking, lazing around, enjoying some live music, post-ride banter and tales from the day all combine in a weary haze of contentment. It certainly was another vintage edition of the Bowral Classic! Chappeau.
Next Stop, Jindabyne
It’s no joke, but April 1 will see the second annual Snowy Classic start in Jindabyne in the NSW Snowy Mountains.
More than 1200 enthusiasts rode the inaugural Snowy Classic in 2022, it was a tough ride held in perfect conditions and there were a lot of very tired riders recovering in the event village afterwards. The second Snowy Classic will again offer two courses with both held on totally closed roads.
The big one is the 170km Maxi Classic with 2830 metres of climbing, and there’s also the 110km Challenge Classic with 1451 vertical metres.
Both routes showcase some of the nation’s best alpine cycling and take in challenging climbs such as the mighty Beloka.
Offering a true European-style cycling experience, the fully closed roads extend from Jindabyne to Hilltop, Rocky Plain, Berridale, Dalgety, Beloka and Perisher Valley.
Jindabyne’s Town Centre Carpark (opposite Banjo Paterson Park) will again come to life as fans and supporters cheer on the riders as they start, plus welcome them home after the big day out. The village will be cycling central and will feature something for everyone – from local produce at the food stalls, to a beer and wine bar, live music, new bikes and the latest gear from sponsors and partners, and more.
Score The Black Sheep Jersey!
Another bonus for riding the first major fondo of the year is this: For 2023 Bicycling Australia and the Classics organisers are offering riders the opportunity to earn a Black Sheep Classics Jersey, plus a complimentary annual subscription to our print edition.
By participating in each of the Classics Events of the year, riders will not only enjoy some of Australia’s best cycling, but also earn the jersey and a year of free BA.
Full Snowy Classic details can be found at www.SnowyClassic.com.au
CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT: Riders take in the stunning Snowy Mountains scenery during the inaugural Snowy Classic. Taking a breather at the QOM / KOM at the top of the daunting Beloka climb. The Snowy Classic starts and finishes in the Main Street of Jindabyne, and is held on fully closed roads.