Handicap – Old Federal Highway

An almost perfect winters day for racing, except for a brief shower at the start of the race, apart from that there was little to no wind and mild temperatures (for a Canberra winters day that is). The race course was three laps from the Gravel Pit on the Old Federal Highway to Lake George and back. A distance of approximately 37 kilometers. Being a graded scratch race its grade against grade, and to win a grade must work together for the whole distance and hope the handicapper has smiled on them.

A total of 45 riders turned up to race and almost all completed the race. The aforementioned shower led to one DNF and a puncture took out the one tandem bike in the race.

Bruce Jones was first off, a team of one, and had almost completed the first lap before A Grade commenced their race, 35 minutes after Bruce had started. Bruce declined the opportunity to tag onto the A Grade pack.

At the end of the first lap most grades were pretty much together, but by the second lap it was apparent that E Grade had a core of hard working and well coordinated riders, and had mopped up the grades ahead of them (F and G1) – Bruce Jones however was still valiantly clinging on to front spot. The other grades were in hot pursuit and the gaps between them narrowing. Michael Carr and Paul Welsh had managed to ride off the front of B Grade and looked likely contenders for a win.

The third and final lap would be critical.

Bruce Jones was gobbled up with quarter of a lap to go, while Michael Carr and Paul Welsh weren’t able to maintain their barnstorming efforts as it was E Grade who appeared over the rise before the finish line first and took out the top 7 positions – Kevin Hennessy winning in a sprint from David Gunther (2nd) and Kathryn Passilis (3rd). Marc Vroomans from A Grade finished just over a minute after the winners in 8th place and recorded the fastest time of the day, covering the 37 kilometres in just over 58 minutes, a very impressive effort. Dave Wilson from B Grade finished 9th and Mark Stevenson from C Grade rounded out the top 10.

No crashes, no one injured, a good days racing – the only negative was the urn going out unnoticed by the Race Director and depriving the battle weary racers of a hot coffee after the race.

Thanks to Robert Miller, Alain Arbaut, Richard Gorrell, Terence Merrigan (who was 20 cents richer for predicting the winner mid race!), Geoff Strang, Tony Weir and Elton Ivers. Also thanks to Graham Hendrie for driving the van out and Ian Morton for putting the signs out.

Owain Tilley