The Saturday afternoon weather forecast was horrible for the first ever ITT that anyone could remember on the hilly Boorolong course. A 40kph block westerly headwind and 70kph gusts promised a tough ride out and a rapid run home for anyone game enough to try it. Amazingly, over 20 riders showed up, ready for a hard-fought contest with mother nature but there was little doubt about who would win on the day, especially when Missile Mick Harris arrived sporting TT bars – another first. Claiming they were “just an experiment” ahead of the National Capital Tour next month, Harris didn’t seem too phased by the weather and once launched, he didn’t waste much time carving through the field, turning under 18 minutes on an outward leg that was over a minute better than his nearest rivals. Fresh from the State ITT Championships last weekend, Andy Robb and John Scott-Hamilton ran him close on the return aboard their serious-looking TT rigs, but even solid wheels and Johnny’s infamous 53×11 couldn’t reel in the young rider who continues to show impressive ability across a range of disciplines.
The 30s gaps certainly gave riders something to chase, and some welcome new faces ensured the race order wasn’t a static procession. Hugh McKellar seems likely to be a regular at club events from here on in and his track stand start looked a lot more impressive than Rob’s alternative of leaning on Wilko’s shoulder. Also making their ITT debut with Armidale were two riders visiting from WA – Anna Schwartz and Tom Barratt. In amongst the new faces was a familiar one in the shape of Ben Harris, making a brief return to the cold and clearly unable to resist the allure of a blustery Boorolong.
The wind did drop notably towards the end of the race, but not before most riders had battled the uphill 10k outward leg. Tom Simmonds impressed and got within striking distance of a very well matched Andy and Johnny, but well out of range of Mick Harris. Sister Holly Harris, one of six women competing on the day, appears to have found her race legs once again following a well-earned 2-week break since the MTB marathon world championships in Europe. Holly was comfortably the fastest woman, finishing 8th overall and one of only 8 riders who got inside 21 minutes for the outward leg.
Despite mass confusion about the ability of Wilko to put the signs out and run the race, he did a wonderful job, ably assisted by Col who safely marshaled the turn, and by Swanny who did a good job of the start sequence. Thanks to all the race officials and spectators and well done Mick and Holly Harris for your wins on the day.
Next week we continue the ITT build-up with a short, punchy time trial on Long Swamp over 15km and don’t forget the club AGM this coming Wednesday – 6pm at the Armidale City Bowling Club.