Graded Scratch Road Races, The Coombesberg, Thu 9 Feb.
A-Grade by Dan Purcell
Do you remember last Thursday? No? Well it was 37 degrees and 48% humidity. It was in under these conditions that 11 lucky A grade riders got to sweat it out on the 29km course out to Sawpit Gully, before making a u-turn and heading back to finish atop the dreaded summit of the Coombesberg.
Unlike the usual handicap racing system, the graded scratch race sees riders allocated into a grade (A, B or C). So essentially three races took place. Riders only race the competitors in their own grade, and each grade starts together as a group. The first person in each grade to the finish line wins!
Due to the first 5kms being neutral racing (no attacking etc), the pace of the riders was nowhere near as hot as the weather, in fact it resembled a very lazy weekend bunch ride - not that anybody was complaining.
At the race start proper (just before Barwite Rd), Tom MacMunn and Jarrod Appleton thought they'd wake the bunch up and try sneak off the front. A headwind did them no favours and the bunch wasn't interested in letting them go, so it was all back together 1km later. Everything went quiet until the tomato farm when Tim Ross thought he'd try his luck on a solo attack. Probably a little ambitious, Tim, but it did bring a bit of excitement into the race.
Just before the bunch made the u-turn at Sawpit Gully rd and it was Rob Skinner's turn to have a crack. Now with a tail wind, Skinner did pretty well to stay clear for a few km's, before also being swallowed back up by the eleven riders who were finally starting to lift the tempo.
In his first ever bike race, Glenn Purcell went to the front to drive the pace. Now that is brutal handicapping, A grade for your first race! Talk about being thrown in the deep end. It was all a bit too much though and soon the bunch was down to 10.
Status quo pretty much until the later parts on Barwite road, when Bruce Halket, Jarrod Quinn and Tom MacMunn exploded off the front of the group in an attempt to lower some numbers before the ascent up Coombes hill. But it was in vain as Darren Bakker took one for the team and singled handily reeled the attack in.
The pace was now right up when the slimming bunch took the final right turn onto Old-Tolmie Rd. Halket, Macmunn, Quinn and Dan Purcell were playing cat and mouse at the front as the drag race up the hill began. Quinn led the four, who were now clear of everyone else most the way up the hill, before tiring and conceding the lead to Halket. But again, Halket halted and Dan Purcell rode clear to take the win.
Quinn found a second wind to take second, Halket was third, Tom MacMunn took fourth and Luke Olver rounded out the top five with another consistently good ride. Rob Skinner was the unofficial 'most combative' rider.
B-Grade by Anonymous
Anthony Plummer won from Dave Moore and Janine Appleton. But no-one was able to write about it so just make something up. Be creative!
C-Grade by Gretchen Nadenbousch
Di Condie, David Bock, and the 2 Will’s, Will MacDonald and Craig Wilson, four experienced die-hards, along with Andrew Clark, returning home for a quick spin from his island hideaway, Gretchen Nadenbousch, trying to get fit again, and the young & spritely Bella MacMunn, lined up for a 29km pedal from Botanic Park to the top of Coombes Hill on a warm & steamy evening.
It was a slow start, however the giant frame of One Hill Will (Craig Wilson) was obviously keen to get away. Expecting the pace to pick up once we were over Barwite Hill, it was clearly a night for exerting as little energy as possible, with the aim of saving it all for the sprint on the hilltop finish at the end. Clarkie was keen to give his legs a workout; Bocky, Will and Di all giving it a little nudge, Gretchen just keen to stay with them all.
At the turnaround we were all together minus the youngest lass of the group. The left hand turn into Barwite Road saw us all continue at the same relatively cruisy pace, perhaps the mind games of who was going to go for the breakaway and when, starting to play on all our minds. Clearly we were all keen to keep working together, knowing it would be pointless to go it alone. One Hill Wil knows this course well and took off at his usual spot on the descent coming out of the twist on Barwite road. The experienced crew knew to stick together and let him go, although keeping him within a safe distance.
The rain came down and the water and debris flicking off the tyres in front caught Bocky by surprise. He dropped off the back to wipe the foreign bodies from his eyes. It now left four of us to chase the big man down on the Coombesberg as we rounded the bend. Gretchen was getting toey, not wanting to let Wil get away. The top of the climb now getting closer and Wil still in front, it was time to put the foot down.
Will MacDonald pulled out and followed Gretchen’s wheel, Clarkie close behind. As we left One Hill Wil behind, expletives could be heard blowing to the wind as he struggled with his gear changes on a replacement bike following an altercation between his carport and roof racks with bike securely attached!
The finsh line now in sight having reached the top of the climb, it was into the big chain ring and give it your all. Not keen to look behind and see how close the others were, it was a big gear, a big grunt and a big grimace to the finish line, the spectators and support crew lining the road with plenty of cheer. Well done to all the crew in C Grade, Bella winning the biggest smile award!
A big thanks to all the volunteers and marshalls… who nearly lost a support vehicle at the turnaround for leaving the handbrake off!
Results can be found here.
Tomorrow night is the Bakker Plumbing Handicap at Jamieson, one of the highlights of the MMBCC summer! Entries to John as normal via 0428 503 437 by 8pm tonight please.
Don't forget, we're also racing at Jamieson on Sunday morning in the second of the Summer Sunday Series.
Sorry, nothing on Monday night's Dirt Crits. More next week...
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