Despite the rumble of a storm in the background, the inaugural road race of the 2019 season went ahead in warm sunny conditions. There were 3 grades racing 30km of scratch racing on Dangarsleigh, and an outbound tailwind meant that staying with the group to the turn would be essential to surviving the headwind on the return leg. A strong turnout and the prospect of a red-hot A grade saw the re-emergence of the super-A, super-B, and super-C grades, and this would also mean it would be fast racing from the gun across the groups.
First off were 12 super-A grade riders, and kudos to visiting Inverell rider (and local student) Codie Miller who put his hand-up to race with this grade. It was a blistering pace from the gun, with riders desperately hanging on to wheels as the Grafton-Inverell crew of Houlty, Hammy, Spartacus, and Jason Simmonds, aided and abetted by Missile Mick Harris, Holly Harris, and returning ACC expat Tom Simmonds set about testing the groups legs. By the Dangarsleigh Hall climb, Clint Bourke had dropped off the back, and after some strong turns with the group Codie & John Scott-Hamilton also faded off the back, leaving a long run home which they wisely chose to race together. Sensationally A grade reached the turn in a time of 19.40 at an average speed of 45.4km/h, a new course record! Although there was no time for anyone to dwell on this as the group fizzed around the turn and motored back up the hill for the run home.
Next it was the turn of super-B grade, with 11 riders champing at the bit to take on the fast Dangarsleigh course. And they lived up to the super-B monicker, with a furious pace averaging 39.1km/h on the outbound leg with strong turns from all riders as the group worked well to keep a high speed. One notable rider missing at the turn was Ice-Cold Billy Mara, who realised after setting off that he still needed to vote, and so coolly slipped into Dangarsleigh Hall on the way out – however the group were in no mood to wait leaving Billy with a solo ride back to contemplate whether he had made the right choice of candidate.
Last up was a strong super-C grade bunch of 9 riders. And although they were missing Captain Creagan to keep everyone in line, Strava FlyBy’s recorded that the group worked well together on the outbound leg, only losing the fast-improving Jane Simmonds on the Hall climb before reaching the turn at an impressive average speed of 35km/h.
With large groups hitting the turn, the inevitable concertina effect saw some riders distanced and having to fight hard to regain contact – it’s important that all riders make sure group turns are neutral, as this ensures everyone gets the chance to race fairly & safely.
Back to super-A grade, and it was the monument climb which saw the next selection as the Harris & Simmonds duo’s laid down the power, and Andy Robb was dropped off the back. But the remaining 8 riders powered on, with some monster turns from Mick Harris pulling the group along and making light of the headwind as they hit the final charge for home. And it was here that events earlier in the day came into play, as Jasons morning mechanical meant that he was left racing on his backup bike, and as he wound up his sprint and pulled alongside Missile Mick he span out his max training gear of 50×11, leaving Micky to take home the spoils and a well deserved win! Houlty rolled in just behind the lead duo to take home 3rd place, with the group recording a time of 42min 25secs for an overall average speed of 42.4km/h. Phew!
A reduced super-B group also made the charge for home, and it was canny sprinter Nathan Paul who having tasted A grade at last weeks Crit Festival, found B grade more to his liking as he powered away at the Kelly’s turn off, and a disorganised chase meant he would hold a clear gap at the finish to take out a strong win in a time of 47:40 at and average of 37.7km/h. A photo finish for second saw Bryn just pip new rider Dominic Waters who took out an impressive 3rd place. Also big shout-out to Katherine Hosking for a superb effort staying with B grade all the way; well done Katherine!
Finally a splintered C grade hit the finish, with Chris Stace and Richard Wilkinson contesting the finish. And it was an overeager Wilko who started an early sprint into the headwind, leaving Chris to enjoy a smooth pull to the line before surging past to take an outstanding win in 51:55 at an average of 34.6km/h. Behind the lead pair Dene Bourke and Peter Wilko contested a fierce sprint which was recorded as a dead-heat, and with a GoPro malfunction removing the option for the commissaires to review the result, it will go down in the ACC annals as a share of the spoils for 3rd place.
The frenetic days racing saw riders limping to the pub for some recovery drinks, and a sure sign of the toll taken were the record number of no-shows for the Sunday recovery ride! Well done to all riders for their efforts; thanks to Pat Ferris for putting out the signs, and Col for doing a great job running the race and recording the results, especially as the GoPro malfunction meant we have had to rely on Cols diligence to collate the results.
We’ll see you all next week for the first round of the Road Racer of the Year 2019 competition for 30km of handicap racing on Boorolong – let battle commence!!