There was a nagging headwind to deal with on the hilly Boorolong course this weekend which suggested a tough outward leg but a rocket ride home. Following constructive (ahem) feedback from a number of riders after the last mass-start Boorolong Scratch race, the A, B and C grade format was well received and resulted in some good competitive racing.
A-Grade went first, with all 8 riders initially rolling turns well, but the headwind soon started to take its toll on some and the rotations seemed to come a lot faster once riders were out into the open countryside. Houlty and Pete Harris did plenty of hard turns on the outward leg but the wind blunted some of their power, allowing everyone to stay together. Once again Hammy and Tom excelled on the climbs and Hammy in particular also put in some solid efforts on the flatter sections. The turn was a drawn-out effort with a sudden influx of traffic just at the wrong moment. Thanks to Col, that was safely negotiated and the return leg was commenced at speed. The pace was on and didn’t let off for the entire leg which was completed in under 17 minutes at an impressive average of 51.7kph. The inevitable sprint finish was over in a flash. Spartacus took it on from the corner and then faded at which point Houlty jumped clear and managed to sustain his effort over 200m for the win despite Johnny chasing hard.
The B-Grade race was started a couple of minutes later and was a fairly relaxed affair on the outward leg. Lachie and Peter Hosking did the lions share of the work and there were some early casualties with Bourkey, Wilf and Hayden unable to stay in contention over the big hill. As riders hit the twisties before the turn Lachie and Hosking hit out and gapped the remaining riders, causing some splintering behind. The pair turned with daylight and recognising the threat from those behind in a sprint finish, attempted to stay away. It wasn’t to be however and most regrouped in time to contest a rapid finish with Phil Thomas the clear winner in a long-range sprint with Lachie second and Alex Thomas third. Nathan Paull was unlucky not to be able to contest the sprint, having a minor mechanical in the closing stages – better luck next time Nathan.
C-Grade elected to have a pre-race briefing which Captain Creagan led with a rousing opening speech along the lines of “Welcome everyone, this is C-Grade and we ride together”. They stuck to their plan of getting everyone to the turn intact, after which those who wanted were free to hit out for glory. Paul Whitford was nursed over a couple of climbs but did well to hang in although he ended up puncturing on the homeward leg. Up ahead, Mitchell Jones and Wilko were going well and leading the charge. They established a gap over PC at Dumaresq railway station with Hooper the next casualty of the hard-riding pair. Ultimately it was Wilko who took the glory, rattling in around 10s ahead of Jones but it was almost a minute before the rest of the race came into sight. Despite the unorthodox, non-competitive first leg, it was a great result with Andrew May and Jacqui in particular, commenting how enjoyable it was to actually ride with people for a change – well done PC!
Congratulations to Houlty, Phil and Wilko and thanks to Pete Harris for being on sign duty in challenging gusty conditions. As always, our appreciation extends to Col Maciver for running the race and safely marshaling the turn.