Thursday evening Mansfield Mt Buller Cycling Club held a handicap race anti-clockwise around the Barwite Loop course, starting at the BP Roadhouse and finishing at Botanic Park. Some 25 riders greeted the starter.
The ‘limit’ group of David Jagger, Dave Clark, Dick Forrest and Chris Washusen were first off, followed at varying intervals by five other groups, then finally the ‘scratch’ bunch of Josh Hopwood, Bruce Halket, Laurie Harding and Ross Hopkins set off last, some seven and a half minutes later.
Alain Guerin struggled early, dropping off his group and earning himself a long lonely ride on his own. The outrageously steep pinch up Coombs Hill is always a nasty reality check but by and large groups stayed together as they struggled over it and started on the long ride back to Mansfield. Di Condie didn’t enjoy the climb, but had the good fortune and strength to join Steve Plummer and Mick Feeney as they went past.
The ride was all about the ‘block’ group (the second last group off) of Darren Bakker, Tim Ross and Cam Lachel however. After catching Plummer, Feeney and Condie going over Coombs Hill the now larger group gradually rounded up groups ahead on the long stretch up Barwite Road. Turning the corner into Tolmie Road for the final leg there was a long train of riders and before long the limit markers had been caught. Bakker and Lachel took turns to attack, but it’s hard to get away from such a large group, and coming up to the final hill you could throw a blanket over twenty riders.
Tim Ross and Bakker hit the hill hard, pulling thirty meters clear. With Bakker feeling the effects of his earlier efforts, Ross put his head down, peddled hard, was able to hold the advantage for a narrow but clear win. Bakker, Plummer and Christine Hopkins contested a tight sprint for the minor placing’s.
Scratch worked well together, but the two minute deficit proved too much, and when Bruce Halket crossed the line to record fastest time they were still 20 seconds behind the winner.
Handicapper Di Condie always aims for a tightly contested race and close finish, and so can be rightly proud of her efforts this week.
Riders then retired to sponsors Delatite Hotel for tea and post-mortems. Thanks to our volunteer marshalls including Julie Dolling, Jenny Lovick and Tony Ryan, and commissaire Sharron Jones, without whom our races couldn’t run. This week there will be a handicap race over a new 24km out Howes Creek Road, starting at the Lords Ground. Entries to Di Condie by 8pm Wednesday night please.