Weather conditions were almost identical to the previous weekend on Long Swamp with the temperatures at just 10 degrees accompanied by a 26kph NW. With vital RROTY points up for grabs however, 16 riders still faced the elements with arm and leg warmers very much in evidence. After an excellent and very official race briefing from Wilf, new club member Simon Smith got things underway off Go with Jo Wauch, followed seven minutes later by a useful looking bunch of six and then at nine minutes the trio of Holly, Rhys and El Presidente who was racing for the first time in what seemed like months. Over-shadowing his presence in the pack however, was the long-awaited and much-anticipated return of Kirky who didn’t waste any time handing out advice to anyone within 200M prepared to listen. In fact, the relative calm of Saturday afternoon was punctuated for the next hour and a half by a vocal barrage that had the most hardened native wildlife running for cover.
With Block off at 12 mins and the Scratch pair of Houlty and Sam Munday just 30s further back, the handicapping looked good with the outward tail-wind keeping riders together. By the first turn, Scratch had caught Block (just) and this combined group of six riders set about reeling in those ahead. They weren’t having an easy task of it however with some good teamwork and determined riding going on up the road. There wasn’t much teamwork in the Go group though as Jo appropriately dumped Simon on Dump Hill and turned over 1m:30s ahead of him and almost 4 minutes ahead of the seven-minute group led by Keg Legs which had unfortunately lost Pete Harris at the half-way point. Stationed at the turn, Wilf neglected to tell Simon where or how to turn and the video camera caught some last minute yelling and waving and some excellent off-road work to get him pointed in the right direction, still holding onto second place at this point.
The camera also showcased Holly’s high-speed Sagan-esque bike handling skills (clearly perfected on the MTB track) as she literally threw her road bike into a 180 degree turn without even touching the brakes. Rhys and Tindale followed, a little less impressively, with that group going well at this point and now within a minute of the larger bunch ahead. They also still had a comfortable two minute buffer on Scratch who were looking a little disheveled this week but fortunately still had Kirky to dish out advice along the way.
Driving up to the final turn with 7.5k remaining the groups were dispersed along the course although the gaps were most definitely closing. On the final run up Imbota a couple of stragglers were picked off but as Scratch crested the hill and looked up ahead, there was still plenty of work to be done if the catch was going to be made. Johnny was acting as Moto 1 on the course having also acted as a cone at the turn, and as they closed in on Dump Hill for the final time he confidently informed the chasers that they would ‘easily get them’. That proved to be an ambitious statement as those ahead had by now come together and with the sniff of RROTY points in the air, were attacking each other with gusto.
Holly had launched herself up the hill but by now Scratch had connected with the back of the bunch and with riders now strung out ahead, the chase for points was well and truly on. With a couple of hundred metres remaining Holly was tiring fast and Sam Munday was chasing hard but Holly dug in and held on for a great victory by 5 seconds from Sam who picked up fastest time averaging 39.15kph. Notably, that victory means MTB riders have won 3 rounds in succession!
Thanks to Wilf for putting the signs out and running the race with near-perfect handicapping and thanks also to Johnny for his rolling support and cone impersonation. Congratulations to Holly and well done to all riders for a well-contested and hard-fought race.
Wilf retains his spot at the top of the RROTY League and has a healthy 9-point advantage courtesy of his 4-point sign duty. Next week we head for the lumpy Boorolong course for Round 9 of the Road Racer competition.
|MUNDAY Sam||02||0:12:30||0:23:14||0:23:03||0:58:47||0:46:17||39.15 FT|