A month on from his decisive victory in the C Grade of Grafton to Inverell, and local cyclist Callum Dolby is gearing up for his next big race.
This Saturday, Dolby will be taking on the Keegan Downes Memorial ‘Sundowner’ Handicap Cycling Classic, a 113km race from Coonabarabran to Gunnedah.
“I think it’ll be pretty tough,” Dolby said.
Despite his elation with the Grafton to Inverell win, Dolby said he still finds it difficult to believe a month on.
“That was nuts. It hasn’t sunk in that I actually won that.”
He said the success may not work in his favour this time around.
“Because it’s a handicap, I’ll most likely be thrown in with a lot of higher level riders than what I was at Grafton. I haven’t done this race before either, so I don’t know what to expect,” he said.
Adding to the nerves is Dolby’s struggle to juggle an industrial design and mechanical engineering degree with his growing cycling career.
Dedication and regular early mornings are how Dolby copes with the pressure.
He said a deeper focus on his university studies in the past month means he will have to rely on the fitness he built up while training for the local classic.
“Mainly my goal’s just to hang on. Hope that I can stay with the quicker boys as they work up the field towards Gunnedah,” he said.
Endurance is Dolby’s main challenge for the race, which he said has a reputation for an unrelenting pace.
“It’s just ‘go hard’ from the start,” he said.
“It’ll be a lot higher tempo than some other stuff I’ve done.”
Dolby said he was looking forward to seeing how fellow local, 18-year-old Brent Rees performs in the Gunnedah race.
“I’ve done a bit of mountain bike riding with him on the road and he’s strong and tenacious. He just won’t stop,” Dolby said.
“He should do quite well actually. I’m excited for him.”
Despite the sacrifices, early mornings and hours of hard work, cycling is a life-long passion for Dolby.
“I’ve always liked bikes, whether it be motorbikes or push bikes,” he said.
“I love racing. I have to say that I’m very, very competitive.
“It was something that I seemed to be alright at, so I like putting effort into it. I enjoy winning.”
Starting from 10am on Saturday morning, the Keegan Downes Memorial ‘Sundowner’ starts at Crane street in Coonabarabran.
Riders will then turn onto the Oxley Highway and follow it to Gunnedah, where the race will finish in Blackjack road.