Fields of Joy CX (#FOJCX) is a Cyclocross venue developed and raced by Sunbury Cycling Club with very gracious support from Essendon Fields, Melbourne Aust.

Saturday, 2 August 2014


I have a theory. We call ourselves cyclists, when what we really are is collectors. We collect all manner of things cycling-related, but our primary collectable is experiences. Favourite climbs, favourite routes, road trips, epic rides, epic races,  the odd failure, time with friends. Experiences, carried forward through time, as stories. Like stamps in a stamp collection, we get our stories out when the time is right and show them to our cycling mates - and they get it because they too have their own collection. We compare collections, we trade stories. Stories, the currency of cycling, traded back and forth, forever expanding.

Matty Gray doesn't know this but he entered my stamp book a couple of years ago. Mitch Allen introduced us at the start of the Melbourne to Ballarat, minutes before the start in the BP Servo carpark at Rockbank.  Somehow we were all in the same group - 24minutes. It was a reasonably large bunch, and in a handicap, the idea is to look after your group, to work efficiently, a large group sharing the load. But what also happens is guys sit-on, hiding from the wind, with no intention of working for the common good. When more than a few start sitting-on, a contagion spreads throughout the bunch. More and more sit-on. Then the rules change. Those that are up for 'making a race of it' attack the bunch. Mat, Mitch and handful of other guys weren't putting up with towing everyone to Ballarat and set about forcing a split.  The Pentland Hills, smack into a headwind, was like a battle ground. Look up 'Monster Turn' in the dictionary and there'll be a picture of Matty and Mitch absolutely smashing it on the front. Mitch says to me "Come-on Col, we can split this". I was busy eating bartape and had to confess.. "I got nothing". Look up 'clinging on' and there will be a picture of me trying to make the split. To finish this story...fast forward... Mitch and I were together when we turned off the highway into Ballarat, a handful of k's from the finish.  Our group had merged with another and was now quite sizeable. I had survived turning 53x11 at 70km/h for longer than I care to remember on the last of the undulating Highway stretches. We rode position as we turned and snuck up the outside, making up 60 places with zero effort. We were now on the front, echeloned across the road, comfortably out of the wind. The road had narrowed and congestion meant that anyone wanting to move up were having to ride up the inside on the dirt. Classic. We were slowly bringing in the remnants of Limit. Mitch and I rode side-by-side and I distinctly remember thinking that someone from our group could win the Melbourne to Ballarat, and that that feeling alone was worth the race entry fee. I had no illusions that that someone was to be me but a thought Mitch and Mat were real chances. 2kms of absolute bliss. Less than a kilometre to go and that dream was over - Scratch caught us in a flash. It was like they were teleported in. One minute nothing, then in the blink of an eye the whole of Team Genesis carving everyone up, taking no prisoners in the last couple of corners before the finish. 

Epic is an over-used term in cycling but that day is listed under Epic in my stamp book.

Anyway, that was the day I met Mat Gray.

Yesterday Mat became National Masters CX Champion. Reason enough to get my stamp book out, time to trade a story. Time to congratulate one of the nicest people you will ever meet.

Congratulations Mat.


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