Saturday 26 October - Black n tan

Porter, pot holes and punctures 

As part of Tourism North East´s Cycle Salute festival, the Mansfield Mt Buller Cycling Club hosted its `dreaded´ Black `n´ Tan race as an Open event on Saturday 26 October.

The Black `n´ Tan is regularly held by the club but this was the first time riders from outside the club were invited to race. The idea of dirt roads must be a bit intimidating as only three visitors braved our roads; Roeland Suys, Lewis Rattray and Scott Gigante made the drive up from Melbourne to take part.

What´s with the name? Here´s how the race was promoted on the Cycle Salute website -

Black `n´ Tan: (noun) a blended beer drink comprising a mix of stout and lager.

Black `n´ Tan: (noun) a splendid Road Race comprising a mix of sealed (black) and unsealed (tan) roads. Often ends with the consumption of the liquid Black `n´ Tan (fermented recovery beverage!) by participants. A 30km road race with two sections of dirt road on an `eyeglass-shaped´ circuit on the outskirts of Mansfield.

The mix of bitumen and dirt presented an equipment selection problem for riders. Bike and tyres needed to be robust enough to cope with about 5km of dirt but be fast enough for the 25km of sealed road. Some interesting choices were made which had consequences for many among the 16 starters.

Julie Dolling began proceedings from the Mansfield Holiday Park, as the sole Limit rider. Rattray and Gigante made up the Scratch group 15 minutes later.

Rattray was the first to succumb as he punctured almost as soon as he got onto the dirt of Scullys Lane. That left Gigante on his own off Scratch and made his job extremely difficult.

Suys was flying! He dropped all his companions from Block in the first half of the race; but tactically waited for Foley Lachal and Josh Hopwood to help him into the wind along Barwite Road. It did the trick... he dropped Hopwood and Lachal near the Showgrounds and rounded up the remnants of the 6-minute group (Steve Plummer, Cameron Lachal and Darren Bakker) on the dirt of Mt Battery Road.

Then his equipment choice cost him - he punctured hear the top of the hill.

That seemingly left the two Lachals, Hopwood, Plummer and Bakker to fight it out; but gaining fast was a flying Gigante! He´d gone right through the field on his own and had the leaders in sight with only a kilometre of dirt left.

Then HE punctured!

Foley attacked and got a gap on Cam and Hopwood. It looked to be Foley´s race with just the dirt descent to Graves Road left.

However on that short, rough section Foley, Cam and Bakker all punctured too!

Instead of stopping, the Lachals kept riding. A rapidly finishing Hopwood was able to get past Cam at the ford but there just wasn´t time to catch Foley, who took the win on a flat front tyre!

Hopwood took second ahead of Cam with Plummer fourth. Bruce Halket, Dolling, Alain Guerin, David Jagger, Stefan Vaivars and Tony Copland rounded out the top ten.

The Alpine Butchery prize for Fastest Time also went to Foley Lachel for a corrected time of 51 minutes 14 seconds.

Many thanks to our officials and volunteers: Sharron, Leonie, Tilly, John, Tony and Geoff. We couldn´t race without you!

Many thanks also to Dean, Chris and the new team at the Hotel Delatite for sponsorship of this race. Once the liquor license is sorted out, we´ll celebrate the Black `n´ Tan with a few Black `n´ Tans!

The MMBCC´s Summer Series continues on Thursday 31 October with the Stewarts Bus Lines Individual Time Trial on Chapel Hill Road. (Barbecue afterwards at Chateau Wilson - BYO everything.) Entries via SMS to 0428 503 437 by 8pm Wednesday 30 October please.