Sydney cyclist Rylee Field’s life is governed by numbers: the number of kilometres he needs to train each week; the number of calories he needs to consume each day; the number of kilometres to go before he can shut down his screaming body.
But of all the numbers that swirl in the 22-year-old’s head, the one that perhaps holds the most significance is the one that sits on the approaching horizon as a constant reminder of what is at stake – at once both inspirational and intimidating, you would image.
The number is 25. Or more precisely, 25 years old.
That is the age Field, an amateur riding for the St George Continental Cycling Team, has given himself to succeed in cycling – to become a professional. His parents are supporting him financially in that quest, and would continue to do so up to his 25th birthday, or maybe his 26th birthday, at a stretch.
If Field succeeds in his noble pursuit, he may look back on this weekend as being instrumental in that happening.
For after winning the Keegan Downes Memorial Sundowner Handicap Cycling Classic – a 100 kilometre race from Coonabarabran to Gunnedah on Saturday – it is believed that he became only the second person after his fellow Parramatta Cycling Club member, Brian Appleyard, to back up that win the following day by triumphing in Division 1 of the 105km Gunnedah to Tamworth Graded Scratch Races.
“I’m pretty lucky – cycling’s all I do,” he said. “I had a chat with them (his parents) and said this is what I want to do up until I’m about 25, 26, and if I don’t make it I’ll look at doing other things. But up until then, like, just go all in and see how far you can go, sort of thing.”
It was also a great day for Tamworth Cycle Club members, with Mark Jeffrey prevailing in Division 4 and Darren Taylor victorious in Division 5. Triathlete Daniel Nash came fourth in Division 3, recording the same time as the second and third placegetters while former pro cyclist Sam Spokes, who has hardly been on a bike this year, finished sixth in Division 1.
Narrabri-based Daniel Draheim won Division 6.
With about 45km to go, Field and two other riders, Nathan Booth of Canberra Cycling Club and Sam Hill of Hunter District Cycle Club, broke away from the paloton. Field ended up beating Booth by 1min 25sec, with Hill 2:36 adrift.
The riders on Sunday had to deal with a testing head wind and cross wind.
Field said it was a “tough day in the saddle”. “That finish line couldn’t come quicker towards the end,” he said. “That last 10km felt like it was never ending.”
He added: “To come away with two state wins is pretty good, especially hearing (the names) of the riders who have won it in the past. It’s pretty humbling to know the riders before me were so great, and riders I look up to. It’s awesome.”
Jeffrey – who finished third in Division 3 in the recent Grafton to Inverell Cycle Classic and third in the over-50 category of the state titles this year – made his decisive break with about 50km to go.
He finished 2:24 ahead of Brad MacDonald (Hunter District) and 2:47 in front of David Heaton (Kooragang Open Cycling Club)
“The wind suited me down to the ground,” he said. “I was buying my time, and once I got onto Gap Road, that’s where I attacked and I rode solo home. I make it hard for myself, don’t I?”