This week’s race report comes from guest columnist Dave Rubie. I think you’ll agree he should be put on full time. Read on:
What was supposed to be a handicap race on Long Swamp Road turned into a spontaneously organised team race.
Twelve of the hardcore locals rolled up, having eschewed travelling east to the sunny climes, bikinis and standing around waiting to get served at Spotlight of Coffs Harbour. The venue was the much loved Long Swamp course starting at the picturesque Armidale recycling facility.
Having rejected the idea of a normal handicap, the riders organised into a fast, faster and fastest set of three teams for a team race, which looked surprisingly like a handicap.
The fast team consisted of Ray Phillips, Dean Bourke, Sam Jenner with captain Bob Murison. The faster team was Mick Sozou, Wilf Keller, Wilko (captain) and Dave Jenner. The fastest team consisted of Pete Creagan, Mark Haydon, Pat McMillan with Col Maciver as captain, with Col instigating a team song that consisted of rhythmically coughing up his lungs and making a noise like an espresso machine with the phlegm in his nasal passages.
After much haggling over start times, handicaps, the wind, the Rugby finals, various spots and boils and some more coughing from Col, it was decided the faster team would get a 3 minute handicap with the fastest team on 8 minutes. On announcing the 8 minute handicap, the fastest team set up a moan that would qualify them for a spot on the Australian Moaning World Cup team, which was impressive.
The fast team (hereby christened Bobby’s Battlers) took off with the same reluctance I feel about mowing the lawn for the first time in spring. Bones crackled, tendons snapped in the crisp, cool air and grunts and groans issued forth from ancient places, and that was just your humble correspondent pressing the stop watch button, so you can imagine the cacophany of Bobby’s Battlers as they wound up for their assault on the climbs and the odours of the Long Swamp course.
At the three minute mark, Wilkos Euro Posers carefully adjusted their socks to identical height and synchronised their cranks before being allowed to roll out, with Wilko barking orders like a cross between Mario Cipollini and Sergeant Schultz. Like a well oiled machine, grim determination on their faces belied the effort being poured through the gears. The unwritten rule of Euro Pro being that you cannot betray how much effort you are making.
Col’s Cough’n’Whinge Collective were next. They managed to groan, complain, whine, gesticulate and face palm enough to set up an astonishing standing wave of noise that threatened to break glass across the valley until they cajoled your humble correspondent into letting them go at six minutes rather than eight.
Finally, blessed silence, only interrupted by the soothing clank of machinery from the recycling centre.
At almost exactly 30 minutes, Bobby’s Battlers reappeared, looking smooth with an impressive performance by Ray Phillips as he rode extraordinarily well to keep up. Unfortunately, Wilkos Euro Posers were a closing 60 seconds behind. Astonishingly, their cranks were still synchronised perfectly and their socks still at exactly the same level as Wilko instructed them to spread out and turn at exactly the same time, like four clones of Esther Williams, displaying a typical flamboyance inherited from the team captain. Wilf at this stage looked like he was hurting but his face was set in the same grim slab as his team mates and he managed a fair approximation of the flourish required in their coordinated circus act. Perhaps flamboyance is the wrong word to convey the spectacle, where flambulliance might be better.
At 32:30 Col’s cough’n’Whinge Collective grumbled up to the turnaround, swore, spat, turned and grumbled off again. Out on the road, they hauled in the Battlers, then on the final leg before the last climb, had overhauled the posers who struggled with a mis-timed gear shift that un-synchronised their cranks.
Having overtaken both teams on the second leg, the Cough’n’Whinge Collective won the day with a total time of 58:42, tossing their bikes aside with disgust and looking for a dog to kick. Into second were Wilkos Euro Posers, crossing the line as a group, four abreast across the road and bitterly disappointed that nobody was there to witness the (now) flaming flambullience of their effort. Bobby’s Battlers, having abandoned any pretence of racing as a team, broke up into two groups with Dean Bourke and Sam Jenner contesting a sprint over the line (won, I think, by Sam) and Ray and Bobby crossing the line with their dignity intact.
If one were to award the race based purely on style, Wilkos Euro Posers would have certainly won the day. If based on determination, then Bobby’s Battlers displayed fortitutde that they haven’t demonstrated all season. Sadly the win must be awarded to the Cough’n’Whinge collective, who perhaps could have knocked a further 2 minutes off their time if so much effort hadn’t been invested in complaining. Overall, a good race was had by me if not by the competitors.