BEAU Harper was happy to use the Central Division cycle race held at Wootton as part of his preparation for the Grafton to Inverell Classic.
The 29-year-old is contesting the Grafton to Inverell for the third time and as such is putting in plenty of kilometres training for one of the toughest races in the State.
More than 100 riders took part in the Central Division event conducted over the gruelling, undulating course. Harper started in B-grade but blitzed the field to beat the A-graders home. He is the Manning River Times-Iguana Sportstar of the Week, earning a $50 open order at Iguana.
The 62km course includes more than 1000 metres of climbing. Harper and another rider broke clear from the bunch and were then engaged in a duel for the remainder of the event.
Harper said fortunes changed throughout, with first one and then the other seeming to have the advantage. However, Harper's training program paid dividends in the end and he pulled away to win by about 50 metres.
Harper is enjoying life on the bike at the moment and he is looking forward to the challenge of the Grafton to Inverell. A fifth placing overall in C-grade is the best result he's recorded in his three previous attempts.
"I'm not sure what grade I'll be riding this year because I haven't been competing much in State races,'' he explained.
While the Grafton to Inverell is Harper's immediate aim, he's also preparing for what will be a busy triathlon season. He's already competing in duathlons (bike, run) with the Forster Tri Club and he'll contest the half ironman at Port Macquarie in October along with the Ultimate (long course) race at Forster-Tuncurry in November.
He's currently training 15 to 16 hours a week, mainly on the bike and in the pool. He mixes this with competition with the Forster Tri and Manning Cycle clubs.
The Port half ironman is a qualifying race for the Australian Ironman at Port next year. Harper has contest the ironman (3.8km swim, 180km bike and 42.2km run), finishing in around 10 hours. However, he won't be seeking a place next year.
"We've just moved into a new home and I don't have the time to train,'' he explained.
"But I want to do another ironman and I'll possibly look to qualify the year after.''