Eighteen brave souls fronted up on the western side of town at 4pm on Saturday to do battle with Boorolong on an extended 40K handicap race across the out-and-back hilly course. The warm conditions and brisk headwind on the uphill outward leg caused a few sick notes to be produced, and by the time Wilko and Bob rolled off the line the excuses were coming in thick and fast.
Eleven minutes later Wilf ‘Rocket Man’ Keller fired his main engines and tore off solo in pursuit with a three minute gap on the next group, a trio consisting of Captain Creagan, Bourkey and Rhys. Billy, Jeff and Keglegs were next down the road with Phil becoming the first casualty of the day, turning back on the long climb up towards Dumaresq Road.
Things settled down on the road, and mindful of the conditions and distance ahead, riders seemed to be working well together. That was until Mick Harris decided to boldly make the jump across from his scratch group as they closed in on block over the railway line crossing. That single move would ultimately decide the outcome of the race, but at the time and as the block trio sat on his wheel up to the Twisties, it seemed like it would surely backfire. What happened however was that block started to work together and draw away from the scratch duo of Dave Munday and Mick Hoult. As block picked up riders they became stronger and at the turn had collected San Remo and Holly Harris and established a healthy time gap of around a minute on the chasers behind.
On the homeward climb up from Tom’s Gully, Mick Harris and a strong-riding Sam Munday started to pull away from their bunch and over the top they blazed past the remnants of the earlier groups. Holly almost stayed with them but instead provided a towing service to this rider (thanks a million Holly) over the worst of the climb at which point we set off in hot pursuit of the front-runners who were just in sight and looking like they might be fading a little. Bourkey was collected and joined in the chase and it seemed the gap was slowly closing. By this point Mick and Sam had collected the last front-runner – none other than Rocket Man himself who’d lit the afterburners and was tucked in behind them. A vehicle entering from Dumaresq Road caused a split in the front trio and with it went Wilf’s chance of staying with the leaders.
The question now was could the lead pair sustain their break for the last 5 km or would those behind form a bigger pack and chase them down? Back up the course, scratch were making good time and steadily closing in but looked to be running out of road.
By the time the lead pair navigated the left kink with just one uphill kilometre to go, it was clear they were home and dry having put the hammer down over the final section, but a look over the shoulder from Holly’s group at the same point showed a very determined looking Dave Munday and Mick Hoult who’d picked up Rhys along the way, closing in at pace. Actually it wasn’t Holly who looked – she said afterwards she was too scared to look – and it was just a case of throwing everything at that final kilometre and hoping it would be enough…
To be continued….
Just kidding. At the front of the race, Mick Harris got the jump on Sammy on the final straight and he rolled over in first place topping off an excellent ride by also claiming fastest time of 1:03:57 at an average speed of just over 38kph. Sam was only 7 seconds behind having also ridden a cracker and yes, the Holly-Hale-Rocket Man trio held off the snarling scratch duo with Dave charging over the line just 2s later.
Everyone else finished within a further 8 minutes with some great efforts across the field on what was a tough course. As Houlty said afterwards, there is a huge difference racing 40k on that hilly course and our normal Saturday racing, but everyone seemed to enjoy the challenge and the interest is there to continue to have the odd longer race as part of our regular fixtures. A big thank you to Richard Wilko for doing a fantastic job of running the race, and putting out and collecting about 200 signs on what is a long piece of road. Next week all hands on deck in the CBD as we present the New England Mutual Autumn Festival Criterium.
|HARRIS Mick||01||0:22:00||1:03:57||0:00:00||38.19 FT|