STANDOUTS: Grafton to Inverell C Grade winner Jye Reardon with fellow Grafton cyclist Dion Wilkes, who finished in 42nd in B Grade.
STANDOUTS: Grafton to Inverell C Grade winner Jye Reardon with fellow Grafton cyclist Dion Wilkes, who finished in 42nd in B Grade.

All goes to plan for Reardon’s biggest win on the bike

CYCLING: Seven hours is a long time to think about the final piece of a master plan that will either make or break a cycle race.

But Jye Reardon confessed he had played out the 3km climb on Elsmore Road - the final ascent of the 228km Grafton to Inverell Cycle Classic on the outskirts of Inverell - over and over again in his mind as he jostled for position in the peloton.

The 33-year-old Ulmarra Public School teacher broke free on the climb, reigning in another breakaway rider, before smashing out the cadence all the way to the finish line to claim a career best C Grade title in the 56th Grafton to Inverell Cycle Classic.

"There's no easy way of doing the race, but it went pretty much to plan," Reardon said.

"The last hill at Elsmore was always the plan. I gave everything on the hill and stayed on the limit to the finish line and ended up beating them by 18 seconds.

"I don't know how many times I played it out in my head and it all just came together."

"I went over the top of the range in the lead group and was able to stay with them. I stayed patient, and when the time was right I was able to stay out of the seat, hit it hard and stay away."

Stopping the clock at 6 hours 50 minutes and 21 seconds, Reardon beat home a bunch of eight riders headed by Port Macquarie's Ashley Stapley in second and Byron Bay's Joe Stokes third. His father Garry Reardon, participating in his 23rd Grafton to Inverell no less, rolled over the line with fellow Grafton Cycle Club member Steve Wiblen in 52nd out of 90 starters, 42 minutes behind the winner.

"Jye got the better of me in two ways," Garry said.

"My best finish was a second in 1988, and I always strived to ride under seven hours. My best was 7:05.

"It was a phenomenal effort and as a dad I couldn't be happier and prouder of him."

While Garry last spotted Jye towards the front of the pack at the base of the notorious Gibraltar Range, Jye accredited his old man for much of the early groundwork.

"Dad looked after me where he could between Grafton and the bottom of the range," Jye said.

"He helped position me and I got to sit in his slipstream so I could conserve my energy and get to the range as fresh as possible."

The win is the biggest of Jye's career, adding to a King of the Mountain jersey from last year's Battle On The Border and a Jacaranda B Grade Criterium in 2014.

He took it up cycling about 10 years ago. His previous sporting history was dominated by team sports such as hockey and surf boat rowing, with whom he won two gold medals at the NSW Country Surf Life Saving Championships with Red Rock SLSC.

He admits he's had to adjust to the individual nature of cycling, but is hoping Grafton Cycle Club can click into gear for some upcoming events.

"I'm used to playing team sports and cycling is pretty individual, so it would be nice to go away as a team," he said.

"There's talk of a few local fellas talking about going away and racing as a team at a few upcoming events. We've just got to get everyone together and get it happening."

In the meantime, after putting in at least 400km on the bike every week this calendar year, Jye is enjoying some 'down time' for the next week or two.

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"I knew I'd done the work. I couldn't have prepared any better.

"I had great support from family and friends, in particular my wife Michelle."

While B Grade now beckons for Jye, the question of a 24th start in the race beckons for Garry.

"It's a passion for me," Garry said. "I love being a part of it. It's a challenge both mentally and physically.

"We'll see when the time comes again."