Tim pedals to his dream
By STEVE SPINKS
AFTER 228km and eight hours of gruelling riding up the Great Dividing Range, Tim Davis' dream of winning the Grafton to Inverell Cycle Classic came down to the final 300 metres.
The Lismore rider, whose sole cycling goal was to win the Grafton to Inverell race, knew it was his time.
In a breakaway with Hunter rider Brian Gaffney in the B division, Davis hit the front-runner from the right as Gaffney looked left, and stole a precious advantage.
The 34-year-old held the lead until the finishing line as the big Inverell crowd welcomed him home.
"It was very satisfying," Davis said from Lismore's Harris Cycles, where he works fulltime.
"I've always wanted to win the Grafton to Inverell.
"I'd never win A grade because most of them are pretty much full-time riders.
"All the B graders are working and have mortgages."
This was Davis' fourth crack at the historic race.
In 1994 he finished second in C grade, in 1995 he finished eighth in B grade and in 1996 he finished fourth in B grade before taking time out from the sport.
But Davis, who has been cycling for 17 years, had unfinished business so he started training again, specifically with the Grafton to Inverell Classic on his mind.
Besides the mountainous terrain this year, riders also had to contend with the worst conditions in the 45-year history of the Classic.
"It was blowing a gale, a headwind, all day," Davis said.
"It was difficult. You really had to concentrate to make sure you didn't overlap your wheels with anyone else's."
Because of the conditions the race was the slowest since Olympian Garry Sutton won the one-day classic in 1977.
The wind chill factor at the top of the Gibraltar Range dropped to minus 10 and less than half of the 186 competitors finished the race.
Line honours in A grade went to New Zealander Greg Henderson who will ride with the professional Navigators Pro team in America next year.
Victorian Institute of Sport members Simon Clarke and Matthew Lloyd were second and third, respectively.
The last rider in on Saturday night, a male cyclist from Mt Isa, recorded a finishing time of 11 hours and 20 minutes.
Port Macquarie's Vicki Kennedy, who competed in the women's event to Glenn Innes, decided to ride on to Inverell to assist the Mt Isa cyclist as he was determined to finish despite being well behind.
So now that Davis has completed his dream of winning the Classic, what's next?
"I've got to go back and win it again," he said.