The first scheduled club scratch race for a long time seemed attracted good numbers again on Saturday, particularly from the MTB fraternity who are fast-becoming a regular and welcome part of weekend racing. Fitting for such a race, there was a good deal of head-scratching at the start trying to work out how to appropriately group the 22 riders as there seemed to be a very large bunch of B-Grade and only a handful of willing A and C-Grade riders.
After some hurried conversations it was decided to try out a mass-start event with instructions to the stronger riders to not go tearing off until at least the first corner. The hope was that groups would naturally form and effectively create graded races within a larger race. That was the theory anyway!
And so under Alex’s watchful eye, all 22 rolled off up the Dangarsleigh Road together, quite an impressive sight. The pace wasn’t too hot from the start but by the first bend Jo had taken control of the C-Grade bunch which was firmly established by the time they reached Peterson’s. There was still a big bunch up ahead being primarily led by the Hosking and Harris combo who were introduced to bunch echelon etiquette courtesy of Col’s on-the-road rolling tutorial. Cross-winds taken care of, things started to ramp up as the Monument was passed and the first climb came into view. Dave Munday went to the front, positioned himself hard over to the left and wound up the pace. The impact was immediate with the new B-Grade bunch forming off the back, Rhys and the Bourkeys were soon joined by Ben, Billy, Dave Jenner, Sam King and Katherine Hosking.
Up ahead, Dave Munday was having way too much fun and roped Rob into a perfectly-executed move on what was now the A-Grade race. Coming from the back they passed on both sides, quickly establishing a good gap but with Rob’s Garmin congratulating him on his highest-ever heart rate it was all down to Dave and the gap was closed down just before the half-way mark.
Dave went again just after the turn, this time with Mick Harris for company but once again, the passenger couldn’t contribute and this time Dave carried on solo with Mick back in the bunch which was 7-strong at this point. B-Grade were still together, about a minute down and C-Grade, also intact a further four minutes back.
Ben Harris, returning to racing after about 6 months of kitchen building seemed to have lost none of his form and in the A-Grade race he went to the front and took up the chase for the lone Munday. It was all too much for Rob though who popped off the back and waited for B-Grade.
Into the final few kilometres, A-Grade had regrouped but riders were now being shelled out the back as the pace was wound up for the final sprint. Mick Harris tried a brave solo dash from a long way out but was collected and despatched as Dave Munday drove home for a comfortable win, closely followed by Col and Ben Harris who needed a photo-finish to award Ben the second place.
Almost two minutes after the A-Grade winner crossed the line, a B-Grade bunch sprint took place which Rhys Williams won from canny Dave Jenner with Ben Livings taking third after another bold attempt to steal victory from long range. C-Grade also finished in a bunch with Jacqui King the winner from Jo and Isabella.
Congratulations to Dave Munday, Rhys Williams and Jacqui King on their victories and well done to all riders who embraced the modified format racing with the results playing out quite well in the end.
And a huge thank you to Alex Thomas who generously stepped in to put the signs out and run the race at the last minute, also having to contend with numerous padlock problems at the track – much appreciated by all Alex!
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