The end of daylight saving, the turning of the leaves, a lovely, sunny, warm Autumn afternoon, the reapparance of Jacketless Mick Sozou’s beautiful white jacket. What more could you ask for?
Scratch races are always interesting – the tactics that prove so handy during the handicaps often come to nothing although these races often provide far more places to hide for weaker riders in different grades.
D is a tough grade – the range of abilities varies enormously, from experienced riders who could race C grade with a little more form to beginners who are still finding their legs. Phil Bookalil is one of those experienced riders: on a good day he can ride your legs off which is what he did to the D grade bunch. A determined Freya Weston couldn’t catch him with Leo LaJambre bringing up third place. Jo Waugh continues to improve in leaps and bounds, putting John Henshall into difficulties after they split from the front of the field. John was having an off day after trying too hard in the first half of the race. It would have been interesting to see how “Uncle” Ray Phillips would have done in this race – he was running the show so now we’ll never know, but I think he may have given Phil and Freya a run for their money. John Bentley continues to be an inspiration.
Given my (poor) form this year I was somewhat surprised to be racing C, and was further dismayed to hear Nick Myhill would be joining us. However, Nick turned out to be a major asset for the slower riders in the group. Nine riders (Kyle O’Hara, Dene Bourke, Pete Creagan, Mark “mother” Jones, Wilf, Myhill, Dave Rubie, Chicka Russell and Jacketless Mick Sozou) started nervously and slowly, wondering a little what Nick would unleash on us after his surprise re-grading. Once over the monument Kyle O’Hara started with a few feisty attacks which were relentlessly shut down by Nick, sparing the rest of us. Nick tried one attack that fizzled as the bunch decided to settle in for a faster ride home. The turnaround was amazingly subdued, although the race quickly heated up when Wilf and others took turns to try to break the field in Bob “Meat Hammer” Murisons happy hunting grounds, only for every attack to be shut down by a different rider in turn. The monument was cleared as a bunch, with the pace gradually rising toward the last hill, where some final attacks were shut down (again by Nick), leading to a bunch sprint. Peter Creagan shaded Nick to take the win with Jacketless Mick bringing in third. Another interesting race that would have been very different if Bob Murison had been involved.
After much cajoling on the start line, Jacky Weston was convinced to start with C grade but quickly decided it was a bad idea – her form finally deserting her after a stellar run in the earlier part of the year.
B / A grade
The low number of starters for A grade resulted in a semi-handicap race, with the B grade bunch given 2 minutes over the A starters. Lachie McPhie, Ice Cold Billy Mara, Phil Thomas, Jason “knobbies” Blanch and Britt Sisson took off like scalded cats in an attempt to stay away from John Scott-Cannibal, Chris “Boy” Jones, Swannie, Wilko and Brent “best” Weston. Jason Blanch tore the B grade bunch several new orifices on the ride out in the first 5km before settling down. The B graders were caught just after the 15km turn, where Wilko decided he would “attack on every hill” – he says to test his legs, others said to annoy everybody in the absence of Col Maciver. Wilkos tactices only managed to scorch Britt Sisson off the back on the monument (a big effort from Britt). The cannibal won it in the end, with two seconds over The Boy Jones, Phil Thomas in third and Lachie McPhie fourth.