Three laps of the breezy 15K Long Swamp course presented a good challenge for riders on a day that saw handicaps ranging up to 20 minutes. A Munday boycott on all fronts meant the podium was up for grabs – throw in a returning Phil Hess, and El Presidente on his new steed and anything could happen…
The Wilkinson 5 minute group made good progress, showing a consistent pace throughout. Further back the large 15 minute group was swallowed up just after the first turn by the smaller 16 minute mob with Mick Harris riding very well despite contending with junior gearing on the wind-assisted downhill sections. Lachie’s Yamba holiday mood had obviously continued and he ambled off the course after a couple of laps in search of his surf board. Meanwhile Captain Creagan had hooked up with Phil Thomas and they steadied the ship while ahead of them Jack Parker was part of a good-sized promising group of 7 riders that included Bourkey and Wilf. Jack was going well, only to puncture on the second lap. The group continued to chase down the front-runners and still had a slight gap on scratch at the end of lap 2 but by the top of Imboda, the Grafton Boys – Jason Blanch and John Scott-Hamilton had caught and shed all but 2 of them. Phil Hess and Rob Hale were then dropped on the final home leg after some interesting domestique duties with Phil digging in on a solo effort for a well-deserved 6th spot. Col Maciver and Rob Tindale had been steadily picking off the casualties and powered on to finish strongly with Col showing his heels to Rob on the final climb. Jo Wauch didn’t quite have the legs to beat Wilko in the sprint but comfortably took 2nd from Peter Wilkinson, just ahead of Johnny and Blanchy (recording average speeds over 37kph*) who almost pulled off a 20-minute handicap comeback.
Thanks to Jeff Flatt for doing a great job on the signs and results but not for his photography skills. I have about 30 short videos of his feet overlaid with audible NZ reminiscences and some blurry footage of Lachie retiring. Harrison then wrestled the camera off him and we got some good shots at the end – thanks H!
Ride of the day: Phil Hess and Mick Harris
* I’ve put the average speeds in there based on elapsed time but can’t vouch for absolute accuracy