On Saturday 8 February, in the middle of a hot spell (for Armidale anyway), we said goodbye to two riders. Actually, we’ve averaged one departure per week for the last three, so hopefully this trend won’t continue!
The first was Gillian Backhouse, who has only ridden with the club for a year, but has made great progress during that time. In 2008, Gillian was the C grade winner in the Club Championship series, and was also selected in several NSW triathlon teams. In recognition of her efforts, Gillian was awarded “Best Senior Female” for 2008 (or will be when we finally get around to having a presentation day!). Gillian is leaving to begin her university studies in Brisbane, and we wish her all the best for the future.
In her last race at the club, Gillian was just pipped for the win on the line by one of her old sparring partners, Cody Burton.
The second was Geoff Straub, who is also leaving to begin university. What can we say about Straub? He’s been a great rider for the club from a young age, a multiple club champion, winner of many races around the northern regions of NSW, and a competitor in state, national, and international races. And a good guy to boot: I’ve been grateful for a helping hand from Straub more than a few times in races, as have many of us I’m sure. Of course mostly we just watched him speed away into the distance.
On Saturday, Straub lined for a farewell A grade criterium. He stayed with the main bunch for a couple of laps before taking off with Mitch Sozou and visiting rider Andrew Wilcher in tow. Then towards the end of the race, he showed his class by riding away from these two, building up a lead of half a lap before they had a chance to blink.
By that stage everyone had had enough of the 30+ degree temperature, so we lined up on either side of the road and cheered him across the finish line one last time, for the time being anyway.
In amongst all this, B grade also put on a good race in the conditions, with Big Dave Jenner and Angus Swan attacking in the early stages. Despite the best efforts of Cody Burton and Bob Murison they were able to build up a big lead which they maintained until the end of the race. Angus rolled over the line just in front of Dave, with both clearly in need of a cool drink.