With the criterium season now well and truly underway, riders were back at the track again on Saturday. Attendance crept up to 13 with the Christmas pudding slowly being worn off. Wilf was running the show and of course that meant putting his own personal slant on an otherwise conventional criterium. He announced a 3-lap individual time-trial with a $25 voucher up for grabs courtesy of Bullo and the Armidale Bicycle Centre for the fastest rider under 5 minutes. This quickly caused some more strategic behaviour at the start line with full water bottles being unloaded and toolkits, spare tubes, bananas, socks etc being dumped at the side of the road. It was on!
With riders being set off at 30s intervals without assistance there was plenty to keep spectators entertained, including the usual clipping-in amusement. The brisk southwesterly combined with first-lap urgency caused some interesting lines (and slower times) through the twisties at the start but things soon settled down. During the 3 laps, most riders processed Wilf’s information and worked out that they’d need to average under 1m:40s per lap in order to qualify for the voucher which was therefore out of reach. It also later transpired that the voucher didn’t actually exist but full marks to Wilf for motivational tactics!
Clearly deciding the competition wasn’t tough enough for him, Iron man Mick Hoult rode 80k before the race on his heavy winter bike and still blazed around the course at an average of 40kph+, just being shaded by Rob for first place by 3 seconds. Paul Williams grabbed third, getting off to a slow start but then managing overall fastest lap on his third circuit – a 1:44 – still 4 seconds over Wilf’s target pace. Great to see Doctor John continuing his comeback to race fitness, beginning to look ominous once again and claiming fourth overall. Also very noteworthy was Brendon ‘Consistency’ Cole who was timed by the camera at 2:03 for each of his three laps.
With that over, Wilf decided on a massed start, combined A and B-Grade criterum of 30 minutes plus 2 laps. Most of the A-Grade riders were still recovering from their TT so were very happy to sit on the back of B-Grade for the first couple of laps, indeed they were gapped by a hundred metres or so for a while at the start of proceedings. By the third lap everyone was back together and at this point Houlty decided to pick up the pace, causing a few casualties at the rear of the bunch. The tone was set for the rest of the race with rapid bursts on the hill after which the pace backed off allowing most riders to regain contact. Clint and Wilko used the short-cut through the middle of the track to good effect and Brendon elected to continue his consistent speed lapping solo, but other than that, riders remained together throughout. Tom Simmonds backed up his Development Program racing with a good race, holding his own with the seniors (and finding himself at the front at the top of the home straight on the last lap). After a bit of cat and mouse around the final bend, the sprint was launched with 200m to go. Rob held out from Dene and Houlty with Johnny and Tom both finishing strongly.
Thanks to Wilf for stepping in to run the race, and to Bullo for offering the virtual voucher. With 2 weeks to go until Round 1 of the Club Criterium Championships, we are back at the track again next week and all riders note that the Development Program will commence at 3pm next week (Seniors remaining at 4:30pm).