Glenvale is open for business. Fortunately the early rain cleared and the roads were dry.. however the howling winds was going to make for some interesting and challenging racing.
There were around 30 starters in C Grade and we were racing for 50 minutes plus 3 laps.
The pattern of racing is generally an early break goes, gets caught after 20 minutes and then there are a couple of solo efforts which are quickly nullified. The last 10 minutes usually backs off a bit as everyone prepares themselves for the bunch sprint home.
My race plan therefore was to sit in and let all the young fellas do the chasing. An early break of 5 did go. In this break included Chris Carter, Will Moloney-Morton, Alex Drabble and Daniel Ward. They managed to hold a nice gap, but it was under control and I felt comfortable watching from the back of the pack.
With the early break frivolities over I was expecting the race to settle down, however the counter attack surprisingly went straight away and once again it was Chris, Will & Alex in the mix. 5 riders away again and I still did not think it was that much of a threat but thought I had better move closer to the front.
Next lap another rider jumped and then another. The break was now looking dangerous and was starting to get some momentum on the rest of us. I decided to go after it and managed to cross cleanly with my heart in my mouth.
The break was now 8 and we were working together reasonably well. We kept the pace on, however in the back of my mind it was always temporary and that it would ultimately be all back together for a that bunch sprint at the end.
At around the 40 minute mark some indicated the bunch was close. I looked around to see how far back they were, however I was looking the wrong way. We were not going to get caught but rather we were going to lap them. This was a first for me and one to savour.
Also in the break was Taylor Jones. Son of Ciaran who I have raced against at EVCC. I say raced against Ciaran, but really he was in the elite category and winning races while I was just making up the numbers.
Like his dad, Taylor rode superbly. Never missed a turn and was very smooth in the break. I am sure Taylor is going to progress thru the ranks in no time.
The break was now down to 7 and we continued to pull turns. Some more so than others as the final tactics came into play. We got 3 laps to go and it was starting to get interesting. I thought I was in for a chance.
There were a volley of attacks and chases over the next 3 laps. It was hard racing and not much time to recover and when sprint time came. I had already burnt all my matches.
Chris Carter who had been in everything still had plenty in the end to take the win clear of Will Moloney-Morton and Brendan Halleur who tied for 2nd. Tom Boatman 4th and Greg Aidone in 5th.
It was a memorable race which I enjoyed immensely. Thanks to CCCC.
It is great to have Glenvale back.
My last MTB race was Blores Hill a couple of months back where I teamed up with Mark Geary. It was a cold, wet & extremely windy that day, however we had a good race and the team dynamics worked so we were keen to continue the experiment.
Our next outing was meant to be the Bendigo round of the Victorian Enduro Series; however it was post phoned due to all the rain we have been getting. The fall back plan was the Yowie.
The Yowie is hosted by the Geelong MTB Club and it involves one, two or three laps of the You Yangs MTB Park. A 33k lap which starts from Kurrajong along the Epic Trail takes up Stockyards Road, down Travs, across the Quarry Pit, up Vomit, down Boulder, up Rockwell and then back home along the Junction track taking in Gazebo and Star Wars along the way.
We needed a 3rd rider and it was Fergus Fitzwater, a work buddy of Mark, who was willing to volunteer his services to our dubiously named team. Fergus has done a bit of MTB riding, however he would classify himself more as a Roadie. He won the Masters5 Category in the Brunswick Cycling Club Championships just a couple of weeks ago and also won the C Grade at the Italio Trophy Race out at Woodend a month or so ago. So they guy is fit..
Fergus is also famous for being taken out by a kangaroo at last years Northern Combine Road Championships. An accident which smashed up his bike and also broke a section of his hip which put him out of action for around 6 months.
Mark was keen to lead us off. He has a passion for capturing every moving moment with front and rear cameras and popping them up on Youtube. When his racing is done, he then lugs his 20kg camera bag full of equipment to key spots on the course to capture even more material.
The first lap included a prologue which generally is fast and furious as riders jockey for hole shot glory. It wasn’t a huge field and the start of the 99k race looked reasonably civilised from the side lines as David Grant was the first to hit the circuit proper.
I was the second rider off and was nervously waiting in the transition area. Adrian Jackson and Rohin Andrews were first in with Murray Spink some 5 minutes down as a result of a puncture.
Mark rolled in with Karen Hill and another around the 95 minute mark. I got away first and and made my way along the bumps & burns of the epic trail. It was nice flowing manicured track lined with cut tree logs. I was moving along ok and feeling good. That feeling soon evaporated when I hit the first climb at Stockyards.
I looked backed and I could see Karen in hot pursuit. I pushed up the hill thinking not if but when Karen was going to catch me. However the catch never came and I was left to get down Travs Diamond on my own.
I have ridden Travs once. It was a social ride and my mates tricked me into it. So I knew it was pretty technical. The elevated wooden trestles and burms were exhilarating.
The rocks and drop offs however were terrifying and you really needed to make sure you picked a good line if your were going survive.
I had a couple of close calls. I was pretty lucky. However this section did see some carnage; none worse (I hope) than the chap in the picture taken by Peter Henkel. I hope it ended up ok.
Vomit is only 400m, but it averages out at 11% with the worst of it 25%, it really gets the heart pumping.
The next challenge was getting down boulder. This was a new one for me and after I successfully got over the first boulder I thought I had got over the worst of it. However there were plenty more boulders that needed navigating. It was an incredible challenging ride and once again picking the right line was critical.
I had the track to myself. I didn’t catch anyone and no one caught me. After boulder it was a the weaving thru the trees of star wars, over the table tops of the pump track and brining it home back to Kurrajong. I do not think I could have ridden it any better and clocked in a time of 97 minutes.
I handed off to Fergus & kept my fingers crossed that he would make it around the loop ok. There was some really tricky spots and I just hoped Fergus would get through it alright. And he did. without any issues. Our times may not have compared with the elite solo guys, however it was good enough to take out the teams category. We were pretty happy with the Yowie trophy and goodie bag.
Adrian Jackson cracked out consistent laps times of 83 minutes to take the win.
Murray Spink pulled back some time after his first lap flat tyre and was able to move into 2nd place after Rohin suffered same fate from the puncture gods.
Rohin came home in 3rd.. and provided the following wrap up..
The You Yangs Yowie is always an epic event. Today I found myself in the unlikely position of trying to work out how the hell I beat Adrian Jackson (as in I was still with him). Knowing that I had no chance of loosing him in the 15kms of flat sandy single track I tried the Hail Mary of all plans. Attack with everything you have 25kms to go and hope like hell he thinks ‘NO WAY am I going to go that hard for that long’ and lets me ride away….. Hmm then I remembered as he caught me back up that he’s a Ginger too and that was just silly. Sadly I flatted some 5kms later and ended in 3rd but hey. Its nice to be in the position of throwing down with such a quality rider.
It was a really really great race. Many thanks to Geelong MTB Club. I think the boys are already making plans for 2017.
Spring is here and racing this week was in honour of Marry Tams. A long time member of the club who dedicate plenty of her time to make sure race day went smoothly. Mary took entries, handed out numbers, made sure your tail light was functional, helmets done up and she would even give you the look if you were not paying attention during the race briefing. A lovely lady indeed and missed by many from the Northern Cycling and the VVCC.
It is a long haul out to Seymour to race on the Kobyboyn circuit. An out and back circuit of 53km with a significant bump in the middle. Not my ideal course and not in the best of form. I was a little nervous.
I was one of 5 in the 6 minute chopping block group which was made up of Phil Bramich, the current club champion, Emilo Romano, Alain Hosking and Scott Riddell. Some super duper fire power in the group and if we could stick together we had a very good chance of getting up.
6 minutes ahead of us was Craig Harvey and David Jukes. 5 chasing 2 sounded like a pretty reasonable and we would be in the game if we could do this before Darren Roberts, Michael Borowski and Tony Guiliano from scratch caught us.
A quick warm up with the GOS boys and we got a glimpse of limit riders Allison Watt and Stacey Hatton who were underway defending 37 minutes.
Phil, Scott, Emilio and I were on the start line ready to start our chase, however Alain was working to a different clock and was still doing his pre-race preparations. We could see him up the road ambling his way to the start line and as we rolled off. Alain had to stop on the start line to receive the Harry and Bruce pre-race brief before being able to join us.
The delay was only seconds.. lets call it 10 seconds, but it felt like an eternity before we could get going proper.
The key here was not to panic.. unfortunately we did.. the pace was pretty hot and Emilo needed a bit of time before he could get into the rotations. The first climb is about 5k in and we had lost Phil. Calls to back off were unheeded with Scott either not hearing or he just wasn’t listening as he was on a mission to ride thru the field.
Once the road levelled off I needed a breather and sat out a few turns. There is a little bit of flat before the next 2k climb. I was kinda hoping that Phil would get back on at this point and we could get it all back together again. Unfortunately he didn’t and then this time it was me who was out the back. It wasn’t by much, lets call it 10 seconds.. but it was far enough to signal to Scott, Alain and Emilio that I was not going to any further assistance to the team.
It took another 5k before I was joined by Phil. We rolled some very solid turns and by the time we hit the turn around point we were around 1:30 down on our group and still holding about the same time back to the 3 scratch men.
We knew were going to be caught by scratch. The options were to sit up and conserve until or try to get as far up the road & possibly get up over the next bump and then hang on for the ride home. We opted for the later and were caught at around the 32km mark and now needed to survive another 22km.
Phil & I hung in for what we could as the lads motored along, however the hills were too much and we lost contact at around the 40km mark. Scratch did go on to catch the remains of chopping block.. however it was still around 2 minutes short of catching the front of the race.
John Hasouras is well known for his big beaming smile and today he had very good reason to show off the pearlies as he was able to hold off Tamara Riddell and Nick Nomikos for the win.
If you believe in Karma, then this win was meant to be. John only a couple of weeks earlier completed a 174km ride with 1800m elevation to raise funds for Marty, a work mate, who has a terminal illness. A exemplary effort by all accounts. Well done Johnny.
Noel Said was 4th, David Watts 5th and Trudy Stevenson 6th.
Tina Kreskas was the first un-placed female.
Tommy Gray the first un-placed over 65.
Darren Roberts was fastest.
Well done Northern Cycling.
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.