Hell on Howes Creek
By Dan 'Cav' Purcell
Once again a stern-ish breeze greeted 29 riders for the MMBCC Handicap race on Thursday 17 March. The 25km course started opposite the Lords Reserve on Malcolm street and headed west onto Howes Creek road. From there, riders turned left and battled a westerly side wind all the way to the end of the Howes Creek bitumen, where they turned around at Cummins Rd and made their way home to the finish line just a few hundred metres back past the Malcolm street turn off.
With the Mansfield Tour scheduled for the following weekend, Josh Hopwood was a notable absentee from the starters list, leaving Damon de Angelis, Tom MacMunn, Matthew McLennan and Jason Looby to do all the chasing from scratch.
The first group to undertake proceedings was Louise Hopwood, Di Condie and Andrew Clark.
Hopwood, Condie and Clark worked well together and led the race until they were greeted by a rather steep hill and the charging Bob Thomas, Belinda Cipa and Luke Olver - about 15kms into the race. Hopwood's legs "went numb" and she faded, which is fair enough following her recent 120km walk to raise money for youth mental health. Well done Lou! Clark dug deep to sweat out the last few Singhas from his recent Thailand holiday, but couldn't maintain the pace of Thomas and Olver.
Meanwhile a big group of riders had formed a few kilometres before the turn around. Soon after making the turn, the big group of Jarrod Appleton, Dave Moore, Dan Purcell, Ian Conrick, Jean-Daniel Geurin, Matt Young, Peter Walker and possibly one or two others caught a glimpse of the fast chasing pack in Bruce Halket, Mauro Brega, Laurent Guerin and Darren Bakker. Appleton was the acting general in the large group and instructed the riders to push harder and keep the chasers at bay, to which the group responded.
This large group continued to work together until the short and steep climbs thinned the pack out around the Lake Lodge. By this time the large group had absorbed up most riders who had started in the first few groups - barring Olver who was having a stella ride in his first race and Thomas who was well clear and riding solo in first position. Appleton, Moore and Purcell accelerated away from the large group and picked up Olver just 2kms from the finish, but were still chasing Thomas.
A last ditch effort up the final pinch saw Appleby, Moore and Purcell pick up the rear wheel of Thomas. With a couple hundred metres to play, Purcell sprinted with Appleton in close pursuit. Purcell managed to hit the line first to take home the chockies, followed by Appleton with a great ride in 2nd, Thomas took out third with a strong and largely solo ride and Moore hit the line in 4th showing he still had plenty in the legs following his recent triathlon. Olver had an impressive ride in his first race (and on a brand new steed) to round out the top 5. As usual, a big kudos to all the volunteers who helped out on the night!
Damon de Anglis was the fastest rider on the evening with a very handy 38min.16secs.
Results and points score available under the Results menu shortly.
Next week's race is Whitfield Rd to the Long lane turn around, Barwite Rd, Old Tolmie and Finishing on Graves Rd (22km).
A final special mention and tip of the hat to Darren Bakker who completed the 3 Peaks Challenge last weekend. 245km with 4,000m of climbing is one hell of a ride!
Mansfield Tour this weekend
First up, many thanks to all the club members who have volunteered to help out with this year's Tour. This is the largest single 'earner' for the club and the main way we can fund our Rider Development Grant which helps promote our members to aim for bigger and better things.
Good luck to Foley Lachal and Josh Hopwood who are the only two members silly enough, sorry, brave enough to enter.
And a huge thanks to Di Condie for putting it all together! Hopefully the weather comes good and Di can have a relaxing weekend watching the racing... now that all her hard work is (hopefully) done!
Mountain Bike Nationals at Bright
Good luck to all the MMBCC members over at Bright for the Australian Championships.
First of the Spring Classics this Saturday night, Milan - San Remo; almost 300km from northern Italy to the coast. SBS will broadcast it live from 12.30am Sunday morning.