Graded scratch

Several climbs, fast downhills and an uphill sprint finish…what more could 40 supremely fit riders want on a calm and slightly overcast Saturday afternoon at Lookout Hill?Inspired by the Olympics, many riders had their game faces on and were ready to rumble.

First to tackle the course to Tidbinbilla and back was G grade. Paul Robey and Bruce Jones had a tough out and back race to grapple with including psychotic drivers (more on that later). Then in 2 min intervals, A, B, C & D grades went off to complete 2 laps of the course with E & F the last groups off to race over 1 lap.

A grade completed the first lap in around 45 mins. They rounded the turn point together closely followed by what we thought was a breakaway B grader, only to see it was Robin Mules from C grade who not only had made up the 2 min deficit on B grade, but passed them and took off after A grade. B, C & D rounded the first lap mostly together with the little slog up to the turnpoint on Lookout Hill creating some gaps within the pelotons.

First to finish was E grade. Kirsti McVay showed a tremendous combination of climbing and sprinting prowess on the final climb to cross the line first followed closely by Jannette Koehler in 2nd place and Russell Marston rounding out 3rd place. The shock in E grade was David Gunther who has been showing white hot form recently but was nowhere to be seen. Finally he crossed the line saying he dropped a chain, but we reckon he was just hiding in the bushes down the road so as to avoid the eye of the handicapper and stay in E grade for a bit longer.

F grade saw the women dominate with Mary Lovett taking out a fine win ahead of a close sprint for 2nd and 3rd between Polly Templeton and Elizabeth Lowe with Polly taking 2nd and Elizabeth easing up to round out 3rd place.

G grade ended up being a training ride for Paul Robey with his eye on bigger trophies over the coming months. He is training the house down, looking trim and ready to take on some interstate talent very soon.

A grade stayed together until the final climb to the finish where Paul Connor went into overdrive to beat home Rohan Verco with the tandem of Carruthers and Mankewich close behind in 3rd.

B grade were intent to take it easy for most of the race. They only got serious I think until about halfway through the 2nd lap. Roger Northcote showed why he is the man to beat in those final few Km’s with a smashing win from Anthony Meredith and Damian Copeland.

Robin Mules in C grade put in the most dominant ride of the day coasting over the line with a huge time gap to take out the win. On rough calculations he was only 20 seconds slower than A grade and he rode solo. 2nd place went to Christopher Kon with David Stewart-Thomson in 3rd.

And last but not least D grade had 1 DNF during the race which meant the 3 riders left only had to figure out the podium places near the finish line. A close sprint saw Des Brown take out 1st from Michael Reppion and Ross Scutts.

But the day would not be without drama with 2 idiot drivers thinking Tidbinbilla Rd was their own personal racetrack. Several close calls were reported by the riders and the finish line marshals witnessed one incident as they came up Lookout Hill. Thankfully we were able to catch their number plates and they were later reported to Tuggeranong Police by yours truly. Even though nothing legally can be taken against the drivers, we can only hope that the Police will give them a friendly call and next time they’ll think twice about driving recklessly around cyclists.

It was also pointed out that as riders approach turn points and there is a car or motorcycle behind the group, then we should not use a circling motion with our hands as this can be construed by the driver/rider behind as the signal to pass. This obviously can lead to serious consequences. Instead riders should use their right arm extended out 90 degrees to their body to indicate a right turn.

Finally I would like to thank the great assistance of the marshals on the day. Events held in the ACT require a tremendous amount of signage posted around the course before the event and Ian Morton, Bill Frost, Owain Tilley and Polly Templeton all helped to put up all the signs around the course. Owain and Bill backed up to perform the critical roles as ATC’s at the outposts of the course. At the finish line we had Rob Langridge risking life and limb as ATC, Rowan McMurray in the finish chute and Mark Stevenson at the finish line doing the timings. Graham Hendrie the ever reliable managed the sign-ons and hot beverages. Also thanks to Tom Roberts the medic who thankfully was not required on the day.

Ben Davis