I was looking forward to racing Woodend and was feeling quietly confident when I submitted my entry for C Grade. The Woodend circuit is right up me alley. It is a 25k loop which includes a couple of short little hills which you can muscle your way over. 3 laps would have been plenty for me..
However I assume a 3rd place in the Mc Donough Memorial back in April must have been enough to catch the handicappers eye to earn a promotion to race B Grade and a chance to test myself over 100k.
It’s been 5 years since I have raced B Grade in the Northern Combine. I did contemplate scratching.. but having a look at the start list.. there were a couple of familiar names who I was sure would keep me in good company.
Names included Tom Mc Donough who has been doing some big Warnie prep k’s and has been in good form with a win with Northern Cycling at Gisborne South a couple of weeks ago. Trev Perry is always good value to race with and there was a string of Hawthorn riders including Julian Del Beato, Mark Baily and Dan Frawley.
Ag Giramondo and Allen Nash were in the Drapac colours looking very pro. Ag races to win so I was sure he would be one to watch.
Anthony Ferronato also rides hard.. he also received a promotion to B Grade after that Mc Donough Memorial where he and another held off the chasing bunch around the Newham circuit for pretty much the entire 90k race. Ferro got 2nd that day.
As it has been the last couple of weeks, my race plan was to sit in, play it low key and save a bit for the up hill sprint.
Our race started off friendly enough.. however a small bunch did manage to work it self free early on taking advantage of the cross winds out along the Carlsrhue-Central Road. The split had 6 riders and they look organised forming an echelon and swapping off into the wind.
In contrast, our now chase bunch was not so organised as we were lined up in the gutter.. which was pretty rough in some places and was not offering much respite from the cross winds. The sit in option was not going to work.. so I jumped across to the break and got into the action.
Unfortunately the action did not last long as we were all back together by the time we turned left into Central Road. But it was this pattern of play which repeated itself for the next couple of laps.
Ferro was definitely looking to get away and was in plenty of the action. Mark Baily too was keen and would move to the front and stringing the bunch out whenever the road pointed up.
Ag waited for lap 3 before he launched a succession of attacks. Nothing came of it but they certainly all went to softening up the bunch.
The key move came from Oliver Jones who decided to break away solo towards the end of the 3rd lap. It was a brave move and the remainder of the bunch were happy enough to leave him out there. His gap grew and our pace did not really lift.
Ferro and Coburg young gun Jack Edwards attacked the bunch and managed to join forces with Oliver to make it 3 away.
Pat Ruggels was the next to try his luck. A 23 year old. who played a lot of football was riding his first scratch race. Pat rides the track regularly has done a couple of handicaps including the Pop Stewart and the Melbourne the Ballarat. He is a big guy and has got plenty of KMs in the legs as he prepares for the Melbourne to Warrnambool.
Andrew Whelan (TKM) was the 5th rider to go after the break. Andrew joined forces with Pat and eventually the both closed the gap to the leaders to now make it 5 away with less than 5km to race.
The rest of us hoisted the white flag knowing the race was up the road.
My guess is that Ferro went early on the up hill sprint as this is the only way he knows to ride.. However the win ended up going to Andrew Whelan who finished ahead of Jack Edwards in 2nd and Oliver Jones being rewarded with 3rd for his brave efforts.
Pat got 4th with Ferro still fighting for the line in 5th. Ferro’s disappointment quickly vanished when he was awarded a 6pack of beer for being the first Italo racer home.
It was a great race and I was very glad to have gone the distance.. Thanks to Italo-Australia cycling Club, the Northern Combine Committee and all the volunteers for putting on a great race.
Also many thanks to the traffic controllers who were managing the roadworks out along Woodend Road who timed the traffic sequences to the cyclists favour. Great job.
The Gisborne South circuit is an 8.5km lumpy loop which culminates with a 1.5km climb up Dalrymple Road which averages out at around 5%. This climb, while singularly seems pretty straight forward, does get progressively harder as the lap count ticks down.
Gisborne South is nestled amongst a number of farms and a vineyard and provides commanding views of the Macedon Ranges. It is a great place to take pictures and it is this reason why I generally like to do volunteer duties here instead of racing it. But not today.. I was going to pin a number on.
The Gate Opening Systems Race team has existed for a little under a year now and have made a very strong impact on the Northern Cycling and the VVCC racing scene.
The team roster has 5 riders and today Gate Opening Systems was sponsoring the race and boosting the prize pool.
8 starters in A Grade who were doing 7 laps. The Gate Opening Systems team had 3 riders in Michael Borowski, Darren Roberts and current club champion Phil Bramich. Also racing was Kos Samaras and Brad Wright from Kosdown along with Phil Smith (Team Skope), Fraser Short and another past club champion in Iain Clark.
From all accounts it was hard fast racing with the Dalrymple climb being the launch pad of a succession of attacks. In the end Michael Borowski got the win with Darren Roberts 2nd followed by Fraser Short for 3rd.
We had 11 starters in B Grade and we too were doing 7 laps.
Tom McDonough has had a lot of success on this circuit and was one of the favourites for a win today. I was lucky enough to share the drive out to Gisborne with Tom where he provided me with a 75 cent coffee, nutritional tips, financial advise and an update on who is sandbagging where..
Emilio Romano has been riding regularly in A Grade and goes well on the hills. Surprisingly he was starter in B grade and he had extra motivation to win today as he was wearing the GOS team colours.
Other hot favourites include Pete Knight and Alain Hosking. Both are excellent climbers and sure to make things difficult for those of us who race in the heavier weight division.
My tactics was to sit in and survive and hope to be there in the end to contest an up hill sprint. If someone decided to go off the font.. let them.. and let others chase.
First lap was very civilised and climb up Dalrymple was steady. The bunch of 11 though was already reduced to 10 as Daryl Beovich was MIA. He must have suffered a mechanical and was spotted an hour later riding in the opposite direction and then later walking. Not a good day for him.
Alain had been setting the pace for much of the first lap and it was Pete Knight at the art of lap 2 who made the first concerted effort to steal the race. He lasted a lap before it was all back together.
Ross Clark was happy to be back racing on the road after hip surgery.. This was his 2nd road race back.. Impressively his first was the Hell of the West.
The pattern of play for the next couple of laps was a steady climb of Dalrymple which spread the bunch out.. The tail would chase and soon enough it was all back together. As each lap went by the elastic band was be stretched further & further, however the tail still managed to bring it back before the star of the final climb.
The efforts, however were taking it’s toll.. On the penultimate lap it looked like Pete, Emilio, Tom & I had successfully manufactured a break that would stick. However we couldn’t make it work and on the final climb we were pretty much all back together again.
Tom executed his customary late attack and Emilio covered it. I was expecting Alain and or Pete to chase, but neither did. It looked like I was going to have to go it alone.
I started closing the gap to Tom & Emilio and for a brief moment time I thought I was going to be able to get across.. I then dropped it a gear and got into sprint mode, but the legs were just not turning quick enough and it was more like dropping it into reverse. The preceding 6 climbs had done some damage.
Emilio was leading to the line, however Tom timed his final lunge to steal the win and reinforce his love for Gisborne South. Surprisingly, I held on for 3rd with Alain closing quickly in 4th followed by Pete in 5th.
Ron Peel is definitely finding is mojo again with a great win in C Grade from Michael Hartman and Terry Hodges.
In D grade, Claire Stewart was having her first ever race and she definitely impressed with a first up win from Michael Lavender and Michael Deans.
The club treasure Ian Buckingham picks up yet another envelope for his E Grade win from the club’s Vice president Allison Watt in 2nd.
Robert Miller was the sole rider in F Grade and therefore earned the honour of being first and last. Now that’s commitment.
A great day of racing thanks to Northern Cycling, the volunteers, the regular sponsors and in this case Gate Opening System for supporting this race. Swing Slide Boom..
Tom rode home to make it a 200 mile weekend. An A Grade performance in my books.
The final race of the Tour de Metro, a 4 race series between Eastern Vets and Northern Cycling Clubs, was held at Yarra Glen. The Easteners refer to this race as a Kermese where they ride clockwise around a 4.5k triangular circuit which, unusually, includes 3 right hand turns.
The course also has a couple of little bumps.. one of which was made all the more harder as you had to ride into a pretty stiff North Easterly head wind.
From a series perceptive, Northern went into the final round with a 72 point advantage. Eastern needed to have a very good day across all grades in order for their club name to be engraved on to the perpetual trophy.
A challenging course, in tough conditions with bragging rights up for stakes was going to make for an interesting final round.
Eastern called out the big guns and they responded in A Grade with Tom Leaper joining in this weeks shenanigans. This would have added a strange dynamic to the race as Tom rides in Kosdown colours while Kosdown numero uno is Kos Samaras who is riding for Northern.
There was also quite a strong representation of Croydon Cycle Works riders including Richard Abel, Dan Hulbert, Peter Howard and David Moreland. They too may have had a hidden agenda.. but certainly their number one mission was to make sure they finished ahead of the Gate Opening System lads in Michael Borowski, Darren Roberts and Phil Bramich.
I do not have many details.. maybe MB can provide an account, however Tom did take the win with Darren Roberts in 2nd and Michael Borowski 3rd. JP Leclerc and Richard Abel finished 4th and 5th respectively.
Last week, Eastern dominated the B Grade race. Chris Allenby got a 2nd win for the series by breaking away with Nick Tapp and based on the race report in the EVCC Newsletter they were pretty happy with themselves. Craig Harvey was the best placed Northern rider in 5th spot.
We had 6 riders up against 15 Easterners and I envisaged that we were going to be put to the sword. We did not have a plan, however we would need to keep an eye Chris, Paul Firth, and Paul Webster who have all shown a bit of zing in previous races.
The first lap was very pedestrian and there were not too many who were keen to lead us up the bump into the head wind. Rob Monteath, riding in the Croydon Cycle Works colours had a couple of exploratory moves, however nothing lasted for very long.
On the 3rd lap of 12, Tony Quick decided to use the head wind climb as the launch pad to join Rob who was off the front once again. Still no reaction from the bunch.. Tony caught Rob, and then Tony kept on going.
This was the perfect scenario for Northern. with a rider up the road.. there was no need for any of us to chase. However either Tony was wearing an invisibility cloak or that Eastern were supremely confident the race would come back together by itself, there was no concerted effort by Eastern to close Tony down.
The laps were ticking down and Tony was still off the front on his own. Ray Russo, who was on the side of the road on marshalling duties was urging the Eastern riders to lift the pace to close the break down.. however it seems the only bloke willing to sit on the front was Paul Firth.
Peter “The Extractor” Bertelson had a couple of goes mid race and in the final couple of laps Chris Allenby was working the bunch over and over. alas to no avail.
It was the last lap.. Tony’s gap was slowly closing. A couple of hard organised turns from Easter would have brought it all back together. Rather the surge, chase and look at one another all worked to Tony’s advantage.
Tony was just holding it together.. his legs were cramping and the chase bunch was closing fast. Tony however had enough to take the win with about 25 meters up his sleeve.
Kev Russell was nicely placed for the sprint and I was a couple of wheels back. I felt good, but was wary of going too early and capitulating on the uphill sprint. I waited and waited and then the Extractor came thru on my right.. His move sheltered me from the cross wind and I followed his wheel. I was able to keep on going and win the bunch sprint and take 2nd place.
Kev sprinted very well holding off Glen Newnham for 3rd while Paul (Webster or maybe Firth) was 5th.
George Goodrope (N) and Tim Crowe (E) also went the early break option. Together they managed to hold off the chasing bunch for over 7 laps. Tim was glowing in George’s effort and even dubbed him “Good-Tow-Rope” for the amount of work he put in to make the break stick.
The break of 2 became 4 on the last lap when David Watts (N) and Peter Webb (E) managed to get across.
Tim won the 4 up sprint with David 2nd, Webby 3rd and George in 4th. Ron Peel (N) finished in 5th..
Terry Hollibone (N) has had a stella series to date with 3 consecutive wins and today he made that 4. Gerard McConville, Ian Ravenscroft & Nick Nomikos bolstered the Northern point tally with 2nd thru to 4th. While the best placed Easter rider was Mark Charlton in 5th.
Rob Devolle from Eastern won E Grade with Ian Buckingham in 2nd and Paula McGovern in 3rd.
Jo Read won F Grade from Ronnie Stranks and Jim Swainston.
Series Wrap Up
Jo Read earned enough points today to leap ahead of Jan Williamson to win the women’s trophy.
Terry’s 4 straight wins scored him the Men’s trophy and no doubt a free ticket to race C Grade.
And we are a happy team at Northern with the series win..
It was a fantastic series with great racing and camaraderie for your team mates and respect for your opponents.. It was great that this series was resurrected (last contested in 2011) and may it continue bigger and better in the years to come. Very glad to have been part of it.
It was definitely a cold wintery day.. the windscreen wipers were on for much of the 2 hour road trip, the temperature was going to max out at 9° and the winds were expected to hit 100 km/h. We even had a hail storm 20 minutes before race start and the threat of the race being called off was very real.
And then the sun came out..
Today I was teaming up with Mark Geary to compete in the 40+ Teams category. Mark is one of those guys you see at every race MTB or CX race. He loves to pin a number on and similar to me he also loves to take photos of the action. Although I would call my obsession as being rather tame in comparison to this instagram legend
Mark was keen to lead us off.. not only does he get the chance to rub elbows with Nick Burke, he gets plenty of on board footage to post up on his youtube channel.
Mark got away to a flyer and had us leading our category after the first lap. There were only 5 teams in our category.. and 3 of them were mates of Mark. When Mark signed me up he knew the calibre of the guys we were up against and realistically thought we would come 4th. Mark was comfortable with this.. as he was keen to be accumulating points in the Victorian Enduro Series.
Our lead however did not last long as Walt (No We’ve Got This) and Jez (No Frills) came storming into contention. And big Thad (We Got This!!) was also hot on our heals to restore the order in the teams category.
The course is 11.4km in distance with the highlight being the climb up over Trig Point. It is a very rocky approach and you needed to attack the trail with confidence if you are to succeed in getting thru it with out tapping down.
It is also the spot where you can cop a bit of traffic. My first lap thru I went OK.. I did not make it cleanly.. but it was an almost and I was feeling confident that I would conquer it next time.
The reward for topping Trig was stunning.. not that you get much of a chance to take in the views.
While Tobias, who was leading the solo category, had plenty of time for a smile as he made the technically difficult look easy.
A special mention must be made to all the marshals who were on course for the day. They had to endure some pretty ordinary conditions, however they were on hand to make sure we were safe, gave us encouragement and in the case of these blokes on the top of Trig, they were handing out energy bursts in the form of snakes.
Climbing Trig is pretty technical.. so is coming down the other side. Apparently the A line, which takes you down the face of slippery boulder, was out of play. however the B line was challenging enough for me.
A twisty and rocky decent as you drop off stepped landings needed to be treated with respect. Taking a wrong line and gouging out a side wall could cut your race short.
Once off the back of Trig there is some great flowing track. All the earlier rain made the low lying tracks very muddy and quite treacherous.
Keeping traction was a challenge; both from a steering perspective and from an accelerating point of view as you climbed back out of the gully. So much energy is required as you spin your wheels going no where fast.
Racing in the teams category meant you needed to manage your off laps. We shared the transition with the Mark’s mates and this was a god send. The fire was warm and provided the platform for much banter and & the verbal mud slinging.
As we reached the half way point, the pecking order appeared to have settled in our category. “No We’ve Got This” with Walt, Macey and Paul were leading with Dean, Craig & Jez Cooper from “No Frills” a couple of minutes behind in second.
There was a bit of daylight to Mark & I in 3rd while the “We Got This!!” team consisting of Thad, Cam & Dean ever present in 4th.
It was around the half way point that the 3 hour race started. I was about to embark on my 3rd lap and was feeling pretty good. Mark’s orders as we swapped off in transition was not to get stuck behind the slower 3 hour riders.
It looked like I had managed to slip thru before the 3 hour riders had got under way.. however I soon had the front of the pack bearing down on me and calling track.
I let the leading 4 riders thru which included Murray Spink and I thought I may have benefited following some faster wheels.
The benefit was short lived as the 3 hour riders were doing a prologue lap where they split off and effectively took a short cut to the Trig while I meandered my way up the side of the hill.
By the time the course joined back up again.. I was towards the back of the very clean 3 hour riders.. Marks words of “don’t get stuck behind the slower rider” was ringing in my ears.
The other highlight of Blores hill are the carpeted burms. They provide a constant in all conditions and hold you up nicely and sling shot you out of the corners.
We were on track to complete 10 laps with “No We’ve Got This” & “No Frills” going for 11.. and barring any mechanical or accident we looked like we had 3rd wrapped up.
The last lap was therefore a bit of a procession. My time up and over Trig got worse rather than better. I picked up Peter Howes on the final lap who came 2nd at the Golden Goat at Lysterfield event. He was creeping on his 9th lap.. and it was about this time I was pretty happy to have avoided the solo agony and was part of a team.
Marks was happy with 3rd place.. but was even more happy he got out to take some photos and videos. Above is Tobias Lestrell on his final lap, splatted in mud, cresting the Trig for the 11th time on his way to solo victory.
A fine collection of trophies were handmade by Lenny.
Solo Male Podium was Tobias Lestrell 1ts & Kevin Skidmore 2nd both on 11 laps with Chester Sanderson in 3rd on 10 laps.
Kate Penglase need less than 5 hours to complete 7 laps to take the female solo win. 2nd was Stephanie Marcsik also on 7 laps it was almost 7 hours in the making..
The Under 40 Teams category was won by Nick & Chris Burke who completed 12 laps with Nick recording the the fastest lap in 30:24.
The results in the Females team category was very close with the Jacinta Preston & Lauren Fox from the Liv Lusty Obsession completing 8 laps 7 minutes quicker than Emma Beveridge & Meagan Butler.
Kylie and Jason Archer won the mixed team category.
While the weather was not the best.. it certainly added to the epicness of the day. It was indeed fantastic racing; a great course, well organised and well marshalled. Many thanks to the Gippsland MTB Club.
A post race burger was enjoyed at Trafalgar.. the new food capital of Gippsland.
Northern was holding a slender point advantage over Eastern with 107 points to 71 after the first round and went into the 2nd round with a numerical advantage of 55 riders to 45.
It was a very chilly morning with a strong northerly wind blowing which was making it look like it was going to be a good day for the sprinters.
Michael Borowski showed his class in A Grade by taking the win which makes it two from two. Gate Opening Systems team mate Darren Roberts was 2nd with Eastern rider Steve Ross who lead the sprint out holding on for 3rd.
Ian “Cipo” Clark was 4th while Scott Riddell, who placed 3rd overall in the Melbourne to Ballarat yesterday was 5th.
Given the conditions, a win via a break away was going to be very unlikely. A solo break away even more so. However this did not stop Richard McCorkell from playing his cards early and it took 3 laps before Eastern responded and brought him back into the fold.
I decided to counter attack to entice some chasing. However it looked like Eastern were not too worried and let me dangle for a lap before Tony Quick, who didn’t get the email about not chasing your club mates down, decided to reel me in.
Last weeks winner Chis Ellenby attacked late as did Tom McDonough, however the bunch was much more attentive and their moves were quickly closed down.
It was a pretty messy sprint with Paul Webster timing it best and winning over fellow Eastern rider Paul Firth.
Peter Mazzarella got a nice sit on Walter Dapcich to take 3rd by just nudging ahead of Kev Russell who is proving to be quite the sprinter. Walter hung on after his lead out duties for 5th.
As per the EVCC Newletter, Phil Taylor was one of the 3 protected riders and Phil did not disappoint by taking the win. Northern however filled the next 8 places with Frank Crifo 2nd and last weeks winner Colin Morris finishing 3rd. Ron Peel’s form is building with a 4th place ahead of John Short.
Terri Hollibone got the win in D Grade, which makes it two from two for him too and puts him in line for the “best rider” prize. Nick Nomikos 2nd, James Stuart 3rd, with Tamara Riddell 4th and Ken Allan 5th.
Zenon Gawronski won E Grade from Ray Watts and Ian Buckingham.
John Eddy was the lone Easterner in F Grade but was good enough to take the win ahead of Bob Miller, Stacy Hatton and Oli Kelly.
Northern remains on top of the points table and extending it’s lead with 211 to Eastern’s 137.
Next week Eastern will host round 3 Arthurs creek with the final race on July 30th at Yarra Glen.