After the fantastic all-female podium last weekend, it came as something of a surprise to see a male-only lineup this afternoon on Boorolong ahead of Round 2 of the 2016 Road Racer of the Year competition. Only a dozen riders turned up for the 30k handicap on a day when the threat of rain was constant, resulting in some damp but still very good conditions for racing.
Without any regular Go or even 4 minute riders present, the entire field was separated by only 5 minutes. Wilko, Billy, Wilf and Dave Jenner got things underway but just two minutes later, the Bourke Boys, Tom Simmonds, Pete Harris and Josh were hot on their heels in a useful looking group. The scratch duo of Houlty and Rob were supposed to be a further four minutes back but fortunately Ben took pity on the pair and let them go into the headwind a minute early but still three minutes in arrears. With 30 seconds to go, Johnny arrived to bolster their numbers and jettisoned an entire workshop out of his back pockets onto the grass as Ben counted them down.
Up the road, Josh and Tom were going pretty hard and Pete Harris did very well to close a small gap on several occasions as the pair drove it up Blacks Hill. The Bourkeys were just a few metres behind Pete and gamely hanging on, but as their group crested the climb they couldn’t quite remain in contact and from then on they assumed the role Scratch bunnies although they certainly took some catching. The remaining 2-minute trio then caught the front-markers at the railway crossing climb and by the turn there was a group of five riders at the front with Dave chasing hard not far behind.
Half-way up the twisties Scratch finally reeled in the Bourkies despite their desperate attempts to make it over the hill first. At the mid-race turn, Scratch were still 1m:40s seconds in arrears on the leaders and down to two riders having lost Johnny at the railway bridge. So it was going to be an all-out 15k chase if they were to have any chance of catching the leaders. By this time Josh and Tom had put the hammer down up-front and were going it alone. Houlty and Rob started picking off the remnants of the groups ahead but were rapidly running out of road. They collected the last group with 5k to go, still 40s behind the lead pair, but although there was now a chase bunch of 7 riders, there wasn’t much assistance being offered. With 2k to go, the gap was now down to 20s and sensing the outside chance of a catch, Pete Harris came around for a turn. Along the long straight before the final bend the gap was down to 17s at which point Houlty launched a final assault on the pair ahead but they were home and dry by this point with Tom Simmonds out-sprinting Josh for a well-earned win and Houlty coming home 15s later (having averaged 46.8kph for the return leg), followed by the bunch.
Congratulations to Tom on the win that catapults him to the top of the Road Racer League with Houlty snapping at his heels just 2 points behind. Well done to all riders for what was a pretty exciting and very competitive race with inspired handicaps. A big thank you to Ben Harris for stepping in at the last moment to do sign duty and run the race – and collect 4 RROTY points! Tom can sit back and savour the view from the top of the league for a couple of weeks now as next week we continue with another seasonal Classic, the Dangarsleigh Eroica – a 35k road race with several dirt sectors that was a massive hit last year. Full details here, and note that this race will take place whatever the weather as a bit of pave-style mud and guts will only add to the atmosphere of what is sure to be another great race. Note also that other local clubs are very welcome to attend and race this one too.
Oh, and thanks Strava Flyby, which for those wondering, now provides rider time-gaps and therefore allows some pretty insightful mid-race commentary.