40-year-old still the wheel deal

FRASER Ashford has been riding bikes for 25 years.

A talented junior rider who went close to winning an Under 15 Time Trial State Championship a few years back, the 40-year-old Tamworth refrigeration mechanic is still going strong.

While he contests another of the Tamworth Cycling Club A Grade criteirums at Goddard’s Lane tomorrow morning, he is preparing for another assault on one of the nation’s toughest one-day rides – the 228km Grafton to Inverell Cycle Classic.

He won’t be racing in next weekend’s Cyclo Sportif on the same, famous Grafton to Inverell course however.

That race attracted more than 200 entries this week, Inverell Cycle N Tri Club president Andrew Blake said.

The Cyclo Sportif is a “fun ride” with three different events, not just the 228km ride from Grafton but two others from Mt Mitchell and Glen Innes that also finish in Inverell.

Ashford will compete in the main Grafton to Inverell Cycle Classic later in the year.

It won’t be his first.

He didn’t ride it last year.

“I’ve been back on the bike for the last 18 months or so,” he said.

“I’ve ridden the Grafton to Inverell a few times though.

“I finished fourth in B Grade one year and 12th in A Grade but I need to put some k’s in my legs before this year’s.”

As a young rider he finished second in a State Under 15 Time Trial.

“Then I gave up for about eight years – I  started again about 18 month ago.

“I’ve just been riding all the local stuff. 

“That (road season ) starts in May I think. 

“The criteriums here are good fun. I’ve been going good in them.”

Finding the time to train is his biggest problem with “three kids and a wife”.

But he does have a famously named training companion, the heavyweight Michael Jackson, to help.

Last Sunday Ashford was third to Mitch Carrington and Dave Rugendyke in the Tamworth A Grade Criterium.

Tamworth president Ray Griffin rated it one of the fastest A Grade Criteriums he’s ridden.

“We averaged just short of 44kmph,”  Griffin said of last Sunday’s crit.

“I’m not usually interested in the averages, just trying to survive is my focus, but it was the quickest race we’ve had all season.”

That farewelled young cyclist Sam Spokes, who heads back to Italy and his professional Pharma Quick Step team.

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