A month on from his decisive victory in C grade of the Grafton to Inverell Cycle Classic, Inverell rider Callum Dolby is gearing up for his next big race.
On Saturday, Dolby will compete in the Keegan Downes Memorial Sundowner Handicap Cycling Classic, a 113 kilometre 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.
“That was nuts. It hasn’t sunk in that I actually won that,” he said.
He said success may not come his way this time.
“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.
Dolby said the race has a reputation for its 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 Inverell rider, 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,” he said.
“It was something that I seemed to be all right 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 on Blackjack Road.