BRENDAN Jones rides his ninth McDonald’s Grafton to Inverell Cycle Classic today.
He does so as more than just an individual cyclist riding for personal glory as he has done nine times so far in his 27 years.
The teacher’s aide, who is studying to be a teacher at UNE, ventured into more than just riding earlier this year when he decided to form a team for the 228km monster – and that Aussie Hotel, Inverell team might just take some stitching in the team’s classification of the feature race.
With last year’s winner Mark Jamieson and 2009 winner Mark Rudolph in the team, it makes the Aussie Hotel boys a real threat, especially with Armidale’s Geoff Straub such a strong rider along with Orange’s Mick Troy and Gold Coaster James Stretch to complete the new-look team.
He’s confident the team can go close to winning the team’s classification for Aussie Hotel licensees Garry and Damien Smith.
“It’s worked out good before we’ve even started,” Jones said this week.
“We got the top numbers for the race.
“Mark has number one (because he won last year) and I’ve got number two and then down. It’s all a bonus now.”
Jones has been rewarded for his extra effort to form a team and combat the dominating influences of the various trade-sponsored teams in recent years.
It will give him the chance to work in with his new teammates and not only ride for personal success but also the team classification title for the Aussie Hotel.
They’ve been good to Jones too.
He also “sings a bit” at their pub in a duo.
That’s a bit of fun and relaxation for Jones who has been in hard training for a race he went so close to winning two years ago.
He was fourth to Nathan Earle in the 50th anniversary race, seven seconds adrift and beaten by a metre for third.
It was a bitter taste to go so close in his home town race in the 50th year.
So bitter it affected his ride last year.
He now reckons he’s right and looking forward to making his ninth attack on the famous race his best.
He also recognises a number of people for their help in ensuring he has the best preparation.
“Dezzie Kearsey is my physio,” he said of the mother of Highlander coach Dave Kearsey.
“She’s been fabulous.
“She helped me the last couple of years.
“And Andrew Thomas has been pacing me (on motor bike) the last couple of months too.
“And Shane Edmonds. He’s riding C Grade and been riding with me.
“He’s been fantastic for me, a fresh face who is so enthusiastic and so talented.”
The former star apprentice (horse racing) has dabbled in rodeo moto cross and now bike riding in recent years.
“Yeah I think he was the leading rider in Sydney at one stage and Damien Oliver was the leading rider in
Melbourne,” Jones said.
“He’s ridden moto cross and won a national masters title there and now taken up bike riding.
“He goes good but he’s so motivated.
“Not many people have done what he’s done.”
Edmond’s enthusiasm has been infectious on Jones and ramped up his desire to compete well, and win, the Grafton to Inverell even more.
Whether it is to ride for personal success or help Jamieson or Rudolph join Jamie Drew as the only two-time winners of the race, it doesn’t matter as long as the hard work comes together on the day to provide him with the chance to win that elusive crown.
Mentally, he reckons he’s right and he also believes he might have an edge on a lot of the riders who have had long hard years.
“I’m right,” he said.
“I’ve done the training.
“It just comes down to having a good day.”