Joel Bartlett from Tamworth has won the 100km Mount Yarrowyck “Hell of the North West” handicap from the 15 minute group, with Babici-Rak rider Ryan Thomas setting a record fastest time of the day with a scorching 2:23:58.
Harrison “H” Munday of Armidale won the 40km event with a razor sharp 1:18 (also fastest time of the day). Brand new member Mick Harris winning the 20km race.
Armidale riders arrived disappointed again by the absence of Andrew Kirk and Rob Tindale (is it a coincidence that these two are either both at the races together or both absent at the same time? I’m saying nothing). Roger Munday called in sick which was regarded as somewhat sketchy since his training partners (Dave and Harrison Munday) seemed in good form.
The Go group set off the chase only to be overhauled on the bridge into Bundarra and becoming a group of 17 riders from the 5 minute group and the 7 minute group. This large group largely turned together at Bundarra although the haul home had turned the 17 riders into a smaller group by the time the hills beckoned on the return trip.
Behind them the 14 minute group picked up the 12 minute group and then the 10 minute group to get about a dozen riders, riding hard into Bundarra chasing the scent of the earlier riders. The scratch group tore up the road to hoover up block and stragglers who had been shed from the bigger groups ahead, at least temporarily.
The last 15km proved decisive as usual, the groups shedding riders as the road turned painfully skyward, although the group made up of the higher handicap riders doggedly forced the pace, the price being the 17 member bunch had been pared down to five. The chasing group had their hair set on fire by a charging Shane Edmonds from Inverell, with Andrew “Swanny” Swan and Ray Griffin from
InverellTamworth in tow. Swanny ran out of fuel in the finish but Ray and Shane escaped and caught the leading group. The escape wasn’t quite enough as Ray was outmatched in a thundering sprint contested between Joel Bartlett and Grant Constance. Joel Bartlett from Tamworth shook the ground as he powered over the line to a well deserved victory. Phil “Keglegs” Thomas could only watch a few metres behind but came in with a hard earned third place. Ray Griffin managed 4th with 5th going to Darren Croft.
A record fastest time from Babici-Rak rider Ryan Thomas was not enough to put him on the podium, but has raised the bar considerably in what can be done on the tough course for future riders.
Iron Mick Hoult recorded an uncharacteristic DNF after his much tortured rear tubular finally called “Basta!” in the car park. Ice Cold Billy Mara had his race interrupted by (in his words) “another dropped chain”.
Jo “Jwoww” Wauch nearly stole the show from the scratch riders with a gritty solo effort, staying away until well after the turnaround. Her only reward was to be overhauled by a determined Harrison “H” Munday and Inverell’s Dylan Sunderland, with his brother Zac Sunderland in third. Harrison and Dylan swapped turns with razor sharp accuracy and triple bladed precision, although their efforts didn’t seem to be paying any dividends until after the 20km turn. They scraped past the riders ahead of them, finally slicing past Jwoww and setting up Harrison for a finely honed win.
A depleted entry list for the 20km saw newcomer Mick Harris beat Lachlan Harris (no relation). Mick entered on the line (literally) although confirmation of his eligibility relied on the vagaries of Telstra reception in the area. Lachlan rode extremely well over the tough course which includes the worst climb on the road.
(part ii – the times and full entry list still being prepared).