What does it take to race ‘Grafton’?

Club man Peter Cooper recently took on one of the hardest races in the country: the 228km Grafton to Inverell. Months of 4am starts were in preparation for this brutal but rewarding event. Read about his massive day below.

The day started cool and windy in Grafton with a cold westerly change arriving around 1am in the morning. The forecast for Inverell was 17degrees and I knew the whole day was going to be cool and windy. Most people started with arm warmers and a vest on but I took the chance of not wearing these and almost paid the price later on.

The race was together until the infamous Gibraltar Range, 17km at 6%. A reduced bunch of 20 got over the climb to be greeted with 50km cross/head winds and temperatures of 7°. It was clearly going to be a race of attrition. After getting over the climb I knew I had to get some warmer clothing if I was going to finish the race in decent shape. We were rolling turns until the first feed at Mt Mitchell with a chasing bunch of 5 with a 2min gap. I arrived at the feed to pull over and get my vest and a feed bag.

After the feed zone a few attempts were made from several riders to get away from our lead bunch but the headwind was so strong it nullified every attempt. We got to the second feed at Glen Innes uneventfully so if anything was going to happen it was on the second last climb of the day Wire Gully.

A big attack on Wire Gully thinned the group down to 10 which stayed together until the finish. With 10 of us coming into the finishing straight I was the first to sprint which proved to be too soon and I finished at 7th, a little disappointing but it was an accomplishment to just finish the event.

If anyone is thinking of completing the event do it as it’s a great one to tick off the bucket list.

A big thanks to my wonderful Partner who helped feed me and generally look after me, without her help I couldn’t of completed the day.

Statistics for the event:

  • 228km
  • 7hours 47mins
  • 3,650 metres ascended
  • Ave speed 29.7klm per hour
  • TSS 417
  • IF 0.71
  • 6 litres of water, 7 Clif bars, 8 GU gels and a jam roll