Billy O’Mara: 2008 Nemingah – Nundle Champion

We’re not quite sure what happened, but somehow the handicapping gods smiled on Billy Mara, giving him a golden opportunity to win the 2008 Nemingah – Nundle road race. When the starting order was announced, we were all surprised to hear Billy’s name called out with the 5 minutes from “go” group. What was going on? As they rolled out with Billy not daring to look back, it became obvious that our ears hadn’t deceived us.

Bob Murison, who knows the race well having won in 2006 and placed 5th in 2007, started in the same group. Together with another rider, the pair rode away from the rest of their group on the first hill. But they still had a lot of work ahead of them, because this year the race was run over a modified, tougher course, riding up the hill past Farrer High School towards Loomberah, then on past Dungowan, turning just beyond Chaffey Dam for the return trip.

With Bob’s encouragement, Billy made his move going up the hill to Chaffey Dam, and rode solo for 50km, holding off the rapidly gaining chasers to take a well earned win. Bob also rode strongly to finish in second place.

For Billy it was a complete turnaround from last year’s race when he had a bad fall at the finish, spending several days in hospital and weeks off the bike recovering.

While the post race talk focussed on Billy’s lucky break, the best ride of the day was almost overlooked. Geoff Straub recorded fastest time to go with his wins in the John Dewhurst and the Armidale Road Race. Geoff basically did a 95km time trial, coming home in 2:21 on a course which was by no means easy.

In addition to Billy, Bob and Geoff, a large Armidale contingent took part in the long race, including Mitch Bullen, Dave Munday, Andrew Kirk, Pat McMillan, Lachie McPhie, Peter Wilkinson, Ole Mikkelsen, Rob Tindale, Peter Creagan, Wilfried Keller, and Andrew Swan.

A number of other riders also competed in a 45km race, with the junior boys doing particularly well. Cody Burton (4th) and Rogan McPhie (5th) finished in the money, with Lasse Mikkelsen 6th and Angus Swan 7th. Gillian Backhouse also rode strongly, along with Mick Sozou and Dave Jenner. Mitch Sozou and Pat Ainsworth started off scratch and recorded fast times.

Last but not least, Sam Jenner and Kirk Burton enjoyed their race in the juniors.

The Tamworth club put on a well organised and very enjoyable event, and we thank them for their efforts.

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