Temperatures were nudging 30 degrees at the track today for the final criterium race of the year. With Col and Bullo at the helm it was never going to be ‘just another criterium’ and so it was no surprise when proceedings started with a wheelrace. Riders were dispensed along the finish straight and around the corner, where a bit of gardening work had been carried out earlier to remove the impressive weed bushes that were ominously swaying onto the racing line. The 0, 100 and 150 metre head-starts are accurate in the results below but beyond that it is a bit of a guess as they were out of sight and out of mind, Bourkey and Wilko were possibly further up but who knows. PC cheerily announced he’d been told to start at 800m as he rolled past Johnny who was more concerned about managing to get clipped in before the Houlty Express came thundering by. At the sound of the horn they were off on a very fast and furious sprint lap and by the time they pounded through the esses, it was clear that Scratch wouldn’t be making the catch this week. Up the back straight Wilko was going well but Rhys launched a big effort and gapped the bunch although Rob managed to get onto his wheel by the top of the hill. With the rest of the field out of contention it was down to this pair and Rhys’ strong sprinting saw him win by a bike length with Bourkey coming home a few seconds later outsprinting PC (maybe he did start at 800 metres) for 3rd spot.
Next up was a quite straightforward elimination race that became very complicated when Col and Bullo tried to explain it to 12 riders who weren’t really paying attention. Riders were split into two grades with 6 in each and instructed to race around the track as normal. Every 3 laps would be a sprint lap with the last rider over the line being eliminated. Once eliminated, riders would hang off the back and form a bunch which would then contest a secondary Scratch race for each grade at the end. Sounds simple right? “So, do we go off in one bunch?”, “How many laps is it?”, “So when do we sprint?”, “Who gets eliminated?” etc etc. In the end Bullo just said “Go” and it was on.
In A-Grade, Houlty was clearly the strongest rider, winning the first two sprints by miles. The battle for the rest was closer with Swanny just missing out by a wheel in the first round and Lachie in the second. At that point Houlty and Rob broke away from Johnny and Rhys which made things a bit more complicated for the officials who threw an extra “suffer lap” in as punishment. Johnny continued to time trial around solo and ultimately it was a very one-sided sprint for the line which Houlty won with ease with Rhys winning the secondary scratch race from Swanny and Lachie.
A-Grade Elimination Race (Avg lap speed 1m:54s – 38.05kph)
B-Grade Elimination Race (Avg lap speed 2m:06s – 34.31kph)
Clearly suffering from his massive effort in the Wheelrace, Captain Creagan was eliminated in the first sprint of the B-Grade race (or maybe he was just being smart given the conditions). Straight out of the Development Program earlier, David Cook won the first sprint from canny Dave Jenner. In Sprint 2 Wilko got the chop and in Sprint 3 it was Bourkey who lucked out. That left a battle of the ages with the two Development riders David and Tom up against the wily fox himself. David won by huge margin, presumably attacking up the hill but it was much closer for second place with Tom just edging out Dave by half a wheel. In the secondary scratch race PC made amends for his early exit in a hard-fought sprint with Wilko, winning by a bike length with Bourkey coming home in third spot.
And that wrapped up proceedings for the day and for the year. As we rolled to the gate we realised that someone had kindly decided to lock us in but a bit of squeezing of bikes and riders and some cross-country car driving got everyone safely out of there. Thanks to Col and Bullo for running the race and introducing a bit of variety along the way.
The next club race is in the New Year and it is of course another criterium (on Saturday 2nd January at 4:30pm). Riders please note that as agreed at the AGM, there will be a 3-round Club Criterium Championship running from January 30th through to February 20th so moderate your Christmas pudding intake if you have ambitions to do well there.
There will be no Development Program now until the 9th January and note times have been varied to avoid the heat so keep an eye on the SMS messages and club calendar for details.
On behalf of Armidale Cycling Club, we hope all riders everywhere have a relaxing and enjoyable Christmas and New Year with just a little bit of riding in there to keep the legs ticking over. Thanks for a great 2015 and we look forward to more good-humoured pain and suffering in 2016!