Race 3 of the Autumn Road Race series was run under blue skies and an easterly wind at Halcombe last Saturday. With a better handle on the current ability of participating riders, it was a very close race in the end. A sizeable scratch bunch was split into two with the late arrival of Winston Briggs and James Denholm. 90 seconds between the two groups wasn’t enough though for them to get together a become a “train” which began mowing the earlier starters down. A start of 6:30 to block (second last group to start) was not enough to keep scratch at bay, with a big group of riders forming on the downwind section on Makino Rd on the second lap. Speeds of nearly 60 km saw some riders spun off the back. The group started to catch the earlier starting groups on the ups and downs along Tokorangi Rd, and attacks from some of the A grade riders saw George Roberts, Steve Stannard, and Alex West get away with only a few limit riders still in front. In the end, Alex managed a last ditch effort to catch Joe Caldwell right on the finish line to win the handicap, with Steve a few seconds back in third. A very gutsy ride from Dra’s Caldwell saw him finish fifth just behind George Roberts. Other notable rides were from Tom Pirie and Tom Stannard. Ewan Cousins continues to impress by mixing it with the “big boys” (and girls) and holding his own very well. In the one lap race for the young riders, Josh Mulchay was first across the line.
Thanks to Megan Blatchford-Peck for managing the race on the day, and also to the other helpers.
Race report: Graded Handicap Saturday 5th March
The second of the Autumn race series was held on the Ashhurst-Highland Home (out and back) course last Saturday.
A total of 22 rides started the race, with the small A grade scratch group of Alex West and Steve Stannard leaving 19 minutes behind the limit (D Grade) group of Kyra Craine, Rosie O’Brien, and Jess Anniss,. C Grade was the second group to go at 7 min, then a large and strong B grade group at 14 min behind limit.
Conditions were good, but the hills took their toll on the lower grades, with many in C and D grades being caught before the turnaround on the 45 km course. The last rider to be caught by the fast finishing A-graders was Mervin Clark, who rode an strong race, mainly solo, being passed just before the turn back onto Pohangina Valley Rd.
Steve Stannard was first home and with the fastest time, just ahead of Alex West. Ethan Craine won the small bunch sprint for third, followed closely by Nigel Doyle and Chris Pinkney. Impressive rides from the girls in D grade to finish, and Ewan Cousins to be the first C grader home.
Thanks to race manager Mike Craine, Michael Groube for traffic management, and all the others who volunteered to help on the day.
They were gathered in the plaza, by the clock tower in the Square,
With their double shot espressos from the car,
While the Chief Comm gave the briefing, “Keep it safe and keep it fair,
For the first inaugural running of The Gravel and The Tar.”
As they headed out to Ashhurst, there was action from the gun,
With the young bloods ever keen to test their strength
But every move was risky, there was money to be won,
No one keen to leave a gap of any length.
The Aussie’s thought they’d own it, being more suited to the heat1,
For a scorcher had been forecast for the race.
But despite the soaring temps, their plan was incomplete,
They clearly hadn’t counted on the pace.
In fact, the final move went early, far too early some would say,
With 90 k of racing stretched ahead.
The peleton was lazy, it would never stay away,
“They’re dreamin’” was the sentiment oft said.
The first TT series for 2016 has just wound up with a BBQ and a generous spread of prizes, spot and merit.
The weather has been superb for this series, and seen both the mens and womens records falling, thanks to light winds and warm temperatures (resulting in lower air density, thanks for that gem, Barry Gilliland).
New record holders are Robert Stannard, with a blistering time of 14:50 for the 12km, and Megan Blatchford, who lowered Ellen Van Loys briefly held womens record from 18:22 to 18:17 just last night. The points series win was shared by Ewan Cousins, Barry Gilliland and Steve Stannard. Other notable achievers during the series included Thomas Stannard who managed to grow 3cm over 8 weeks and Sam Russell who demonstrated a perfect track stand start on the final night, which included setting his watch on the count of "5".
Thanks to Tom and Catriona Pirie for stepping up to run the series, and to the stalwart parents who turn up to support their kids every week and end up supporting everybody else by taking on the timing, or holding riders, or driving to the turn around to keep the cows company out by the drain. Thanks also to Mike Groube for cheerfully ensuring traffic management is in place each and every week.
The TT was start time was brought forward to accommodate the numerous regular riders who would be going to the Boys High Prizegiving night. Despite the change in time, only two Boys High riders turned up to race! Thanks to those who read the Facebook post and turned up early, and apologies to those who missed the message.
David Martin was the fastest for the night with 15:36, followed by Jake Jackson-Grammar with 17:20, and then Barrie Gilliland on 18:16. Notable times from Libby Arbuckle and Emma Crum (both 19:21) and Stuart McKinnon; the latter posting a respectable 22:09 in his first ever TT!
That completes the points for the pre-Christmas TT series.
Next Wed will be the last TT, but for fun only (though isn’t it always?), and prize-giving.
Usual time of 6 pm.