Ask any average Aussie about the Warny and they'll tell you a tale of a prodigiously talented Test cricketer, a blonde leg-spinning lothario who's been an Australian icon for the last two decades.
Words - Tom McQuillan Images - As marked
Depending on their knowledge of Shane Keith Warne, their story might include mention of the flipper, Liz Hurley, a positive drugs test, an Indian bookmaker named John, a series of ads for Advanced Hair (yeah yeah!), a musical about his life and the 'ball of the century' to Mike Gatting in the '93 Ashes.
What they probably won't mention is the name of Australia's oldest one-day bike race, the Melbourne-Warrnambool. That's a shame, because the other 'Warny' has a number of features that make it the equal of just about any of Europe's greatest one-day classics. At 278.6km, it's longer than any race on the WorldTour calendar except Milan-Sanremo, and with the first edition being run in 1895, it's older than any one-day race except Liège-Bastogne-Liège.
In more recent years it's been won by some of Australia's finest riders, including Orica-GreenEdge's Simon Gerrans, Bora-Argon 18's Zak Dempster and SBS Tour de France commentator Dave McKenzie. The 2014 edition of the race was won by Oliver Kent-Spark of health.com.au-Search2Retain, and this year there'll no doubt be a worthy winner who may go on to great things in the world of cycling. However, for this article I wanted to shed some light on the lower grades of racing. Being able to race -not just ride, but race - that sort of distance is remarkable enough, but doing so while still balancing family and a 9-5 job is truly noteworthy.
I caught up with Jared McClintock and Paul Scouller, two guys who'll be taking on their first Melbourne-Warrnambool tomorrow, and asked them a few questions.
Bike: Merida Reacto Team
Club/team: St. Kilda CC
Bike: BMC SLR01
Club/team: St. Kilda CC
How long have you been racing?
Jared McClintock: I've been racing crits since January 2013 and was hooked immediately and haven't looked back.
Paul Scouller: After a knee injury caused by playing football, I started riding about 12 months ago by doing spin classes at Windy Hill Fitness Centre. I got bored after 3 months and brought a disc brake bike from Essendon Cyclery. That was a life changer – I’ve made some great friends and was introduced to some awesome and epic rides. After riding for 6 months I decided to take the plunge and try racing. I have 2 brothers who both race, so I thought I would give it a shot to see what the hype was all about. I purchased another bike that was UCI legal and dove straight in.
What do you know about the history of the Melbourne-Warrnambool?
JM: I did a bit of research ever since I registered for the race, but I knew going in that it was the 100th Edition and I wanted to be part of this iconic race's centenary edition. Racing in and around Melbourne, it seems that the Warny is always on people's minds.
PS: Most of my racing is done in Warrnambool, which where my family live and where I grew up, but my knowledge on the history of the Warny is very limited. Both my brothers have done it, and some boys I race with in Warrnambool were doing it so I thought I would give it a shot. I'm not sure I really knew what I was getting myself into!
Have you raced the Melbourne-Warrnambool before?
JM: No, first time for everything though!
PS: This will obviously be my first Melbourne to Warrnambool. I was at work on day and a riding mate sent me a message saying "Are you entering the Warny? Because if you are the entries open at 12 noon.” As it was 11.30am, I thought it’d be a cool opportunity to ride with my mates. So at 12 I entered and managed to get in. I messaged my mates shortly after and found out they all missed out. So now I’m doing it on my own!
What sort of training have you been doing to prepare?
JM: I started with a coach about 20 weeks ago because I knew I couldn't properly prepare myself for such a big race without an expert plan. During the week I've been doing loads of ergo sessions, with racing and endurance rides on the weekend. The tough sessions have been the 2 hour training rides after a race and the 4 hour blocks on the ergo. There have been a few 20 hour weeks that have pushed me to my limit, especially with a full time job, but my wife has been supportive of my madness. Oh, and motorpacing, lots of motorpacing!
PS: I've done fair bit of training for the race but have never done the distance of the race (278.6km) without stopping for a coffee before. I usually start to get a sore back after 150km so it will be a mind game for me to push past the pain.
The biggest weekend of training I’ve done to prepare was about a month ago. Some mates and I had a boys weekend away at the start of October for the AFL Grand Final long weekend. We rode from Melbourne to Aireys inlet on the public holiday on the Friday, did a forest loop around Lorne on Saturday and Travelled home on Sunday. All in all, we rode 450km, climbed 4000m vertical metres and managed an average speed of 34 km/h in 30º heat. I felt pretty good throughout the weekend, but I suffered for the next few days afterwards!
How are you feeling in the lead up to the race?
JM: Confident that my preparation could not have been any better. I've stayed healthy & kept the rubber side down throughout training so I can't ask for much more. I'm in the shape of my life too, which is nice.
PS: I’m writing this 4 days out from the Warny and I'm feeling pretty good. We’ll see if that changes on Saturday though!
Which grade will you be racing in?
JM: I’ll be racing B Grade. Looking forward to the challenge!
PS: When I signed up entered in C grade, I have no ideal what grade I should be in, but I couldn't find a D grade so C grade it is. When I started riding 12 months ago I weighed in at 96kg. After 12 months and a lot of suffering I'm now 80kg. Hills are my Achilles heel so I think C grade is where I should be.
What's your goal for the race?
JM:I have a few goals that I can hit and walk away happy with, but I've got to back myself, so I've been visualising the final kilometre so that if I'm there I can give myself the best chance of winning. More realistically though, I'd be lying if I said I didn't hope to win the B Grade class and finish in the top 50 overall.
PS: I have no expectations for the race. Having 2 brothers who have competed, so I would like to beat them, but the wind will surely play its part. I'm happy to just finish with a reasonable time. I’ve only been in the sport for 12 months and I’ve met some awesome and life-changing people along the way. As far as I'm concerned I'm already a winner. I would like a medal at the end of it though! If I finish and enjoy myself I'll be that much better off next year.