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The Empire Strikes Back – race report

The Empire Strikes Back – race report

Returning from the primordial wilderness, Shane “Jedi” Cody out-sprinted his fellow Scratch storm troopers to claim a merciless victory over 6 laps of the Weatherboard circuit.  But just when the Scratchies thought they had restored order to vets racing, Mal Rock surprised many by hanging on defiantly to the back of the marauding scratch bunch to bob up for 6th place overall………Amazing!

 

On a day for the hard men of racing, the headwind on Weatherboard road ensured less than 50% of the 25 that started the race, completed the course. First away, the lone Ray Hodgson stayed well clear, at one stage holding a full lap lead over scratch. However, the tough conditions soon brought him back to the chasing bunch of Graeme Parker, Ron Larkin, Jacinta Welch, Mandy Rhook and Terry Collie, they had also previously picked up Greg Curnow. Together they formed a solid unit, working so well that they were not caught until the dying stages of last lap. Graeme, Ron and Greg coming into good form and outlasting the rest of the bunch.

 

The trio of Matt Ritchie, new rider Shane Cook and the legendary Gary Blood, off 16 minutes could have done anything. Matt and Shane rode very well, but Gary was suffering from a gut full of kryptonite and soon fell away. The remaining pair only made marginal gains on the bunch in front while relinquishing plenty to the bunch behind.

 

Chasing them was a large bunch of evenly matched riders off 10 minutes. Bob Morley, John Creek, Brian and Kevin Lee, and the indefatigable Mal Rock were riding a high average speed and steadily chiselled away at the gap to the race lead. This week Bob hung around and didn’t get the arse until the backmarkers put everyone in the hurt box.

 

Second scratch had been reduced with a few of the usual suspects on marshalling duty. Monster Masher Darren Terry was having a blinder of a ride with Andrew Rushton and Paul Humphrey riding strongly in a vain attempt to maintain their slender 3 minute advantage for as long as possible. Andrew stayed in touch until dispensed with by Scratch, Darren spent a lot of bikkies early and tired late in the race, the Weatherboard wind finally separating him, but Paul showed plenty to stay in the mix right to the end, even mustering a spirited sprint to claim a podium position.

 

But all of that was just preamble to the main event. Scratch were not to be denied today and despite losing fabulous Tony Mirabella in the first 300m to a puncture the scratch bunch of Phil Cartledge, Shane Cody, Guy Falla, and Peter Kiel were in murderous form. Phil and Guy were giving lessons at every corner, Shane and Peter using the force to keep a hot tempo. They soon combined with second scratch and the gap to the front of the race tumbled quickly with every lap. With two laps to go they caught the Morley/Rock bunch on Weatherboard Road. The chicane on Burrumbeet Road opened a gap in the combined bunch, Bob went around a tiring Darren Terry to bridge but didn’t quite have enough, he did however succeed in towing Mal back onto the back of the lead bunch, and Mal did complement him on his heroic effort.

 

Guy attacked hard into the Avenue for the last time, only the strong survived. Phil, Guy, Peter, Paul, Shane and Mal pulled away and went in pursuit of the front of the race. They blasted past the race leaders of Graeme, Ron and Greg and opened a commanding lead into Weatherboard road for the last time. Shane attacked just before they turned Into Hendersons Road which strung out the survivors, Phil was able to get back on to Shanes wheel and lead the charge up the hill, the final sprint saw Shane light up the afterburners to step clear of Phil with Paul sprinting well for 3rd over the line. Peter and Guy were some way back with Mal ‘Barnacle’ Rock astonishingly clinging on to stay in the money.

 

Unsung hero of the day was Tony Hebert. He missed his start time due to mechanical issues and rode a gutsy race pretty much by himself as each consecutive bunch picked him up and dropped him, but he did finish. Bravo Tony.

 

Results

1st                                        Shane Cody (Scratch)

2nd                                       Phil Cartledge (Scratch)

3rd                                        Paul Humphrey (3 minutes)

4th                                        Guy Falla (Scratch)

5th                                        Peter Kiel (Scratch)

Fastest Time                     Shane Cody (Scratch)

Commodore’s Cup a blood bath

Commodore’s Cup a blood bath

 

Captain Blood

Master and Commander Gary Blood sailed to his third victory for the season, leaving all others in his wake, to stash the prestigious Commodore’s Cup into his rapidly expanding treasure chest – and the engraver is working on the club aggregate trophy for him now too.

Starting off 19 min Gary and shipmate Scott “BFG” Denno, aboard his new giant, made short work of the 3 minute gap to Graeme Parker and Mandy Rhook. Together they worked away solidly until the last rise on the Avenue when Gary inadvertently took the bunch down into the gutter. With screams of “up the road Gary” ringing in his ears, he went “up the road”, that is he took off from the front and the bunch didn’t see him again.

His pursuit of Greg Curnow, off 30 minutes, was relentless. To his credit Greg was demonstrating that last week was no fluke and wasn’t daunted by Gary bearing down on him, white sails in the sun. In the end Gary’s firepower was too much for Greg,  and he cast him adrift to ride away for the win. Greg finishing an honourable second. With his last dying effort Graeme gave Scott a push up the Avenue hill, “I’m done for son” he said “you’ll have to go it alone”. Scott finished in third with the chasing bunch about 300m behind him.

Stuck on a desert island was the 11 minute bunch of Bob Morley, Brian Lee, Malcolm Rock and John Creek. 9 minutes in front of second scratch and 8 minutes behind Scott and Gary – the impossible choice of wait and be smashed or bury themselves in the chase. Despite Brian riding well, Creekie is taking his time to find some form and Mal and Bob were crook, so the big chase proved difficult. However, the bunch kept a fast average speed and nearly stayed clear of scratch, only being caught in the last 400m.

The 2 minute second scratch bunch of Dave Peters, Andrew Rushton, Darren Terry and Peter Livitsanis rode a fast first lap to try to stay clear of scratch, at the end of which Dave mysteriously disappeared. Andrew, on his new Zipps, and Darren continued to storm away, with Peter doing his turns but breathing a bit harder than the past few weeks. The pace lifted again when the two scratch riders, Tony Mirabella and Phil Cartledge came alongside, both in damagingly good form. They dropped Pete in the poo on the piggery corner and set sail for the race lead. With 400 to go they spotted Bob’s bunch lining up for a sprint for 4th. There was great wailing and gnashing of teeth as Tony punched the hyperspace button and tore a black hole right through them to win the sprint and take fastest. Handicapper man pinching fourth and Darren cleaning the deck to take 5th.

Results

1st                                    Gary Blood ( 19 minutes)

2nd                                    Greg Curnow ( 30 minutes)

3rd                                    Scott Denno (19 minutes)

4th                                    Tony Mirabella (Scratch)

5th                                    Phil Cartledge (Scratch)

Fastest Time                  Tony Mirabella (Scratch)

Greg’s Great Escape

Greg’s Great Escape

 

Mt Misery Circuit

In an incredible display of unbridled aggression Greg Curnow attacked his bunch 35km out and solo-ed the rest of the race to win his first ever handicap with Eureka by almost a minute. His race strategy was simple and high risk, but sometimes you just have to roll the dice.  Chapeau! Greg.

Greg left the starting line with Shirley Hetherington and Tony Herbert off 21min. At the Addington corner it was clear that Greg was going to climb Mt Misery on his own. Tony and Shirl didn’t see him again (nor did the rest of the field) and retired to ride the race out with the pursuing 14min bunch. Greg stormed ahead, with only the occasional cheers of encouragement from the race marshals for company. Of course when you’re out front you don’t get time checks, rounding the last corner he knew he was clear, but by how much? In a light gear he span up the Weatherboard rise then clicked in the big dog and went for the line with everything he had left. With no-one within coo-ee, he crossed the line with a huge cheeky grin as his victory salute.

The 14 minute bunch of Graeme Parker, Geoff Braszell and Terry “Rustle” Collie worked well together with Ron Larkin, on a come-back ride, having one of those races we all like to forget. The group had caught up with Shirley and Tony and together they kept a good even pace to stay clear of the rest of the field until the last 12 kms, not being caught until Ercildoune Road.

“Every man for themselves” was the cry from the 9 minute bunch of Terry Constable, Gary Blood (first time in single figure bunch) and the big man Scott Denno in his first ride with the club. Pretty difficult to imagine a 3 man bunch strung out any further and still being called a bunch. The chasing 5 minute bunch picked them all up and re-grouped them at Black Bottom Road. Scott dug deep and, after recovering, worked hard on the front of the combined group as did Terry.

Bob Morley was nervous on the start line, beside him was the wilful Peter Livitsanis and behind him was the black steam engine Craig Lightfoot, how long would he last today? John Creek and Brian Lee knew it was going to be a fast start and they weren’t disappointed. Bob didn’t have long to wait, as the bunch rounded the corner at Edmonstons Road, Peter picked it up and Bob’s elastic-band motor exploded, 7km in. Back to second scratch for Bob, to ride the race looking at race numbers, again.

Brian and John were riding well and the group worked hard along Edmonston Road and up Misery to claw back a lot of time. Craig was having a charmed ride, never appearing to tire, he was the main protagonist in shedding riders as the groups ahead were gathered, sorted and dispatched in the crosswind.

Suddenly half way along Ercildoune Road the race came together. After chipping his bunch down to Peter, Terry Constable and Brian Lee, Craig’s bunch hit the Parker bunch hard. Then over their right shoulder Peter Kiel smashed through with the second scratch mob of Darren Terry, Andrew Rushton, Paul Humphrey and Bob “Lazarus” Morley on his tail.

 

Kielly was keen to keep Scratch out of the mix and put in a commanding performance out front, sharing the work with Andrew Rushton who was showing an amazing return to form from last week. Peter Livitsanis went for a mad attack which was as sincere as an air hostess’s smile, and only irritated the riders he was trying to drop – some even laughed.

 

Into the last turn at Weatherboard Road, Ken calls out 2 min 20 to the front of the race. Who the heck is out the front?! And how can they be that far off? The four strongest riders of the day Andrew, Craig, Peter Kiel and Paul Humphrey took advantage of the steep pinch to ride clear, everyone else strung out behind to struggle home as best they could.

 

Of course Greg was already over the line before the sprint for the minor places started. Kielly went first, his surprise attack catching the other three out, he got 20 metres. Then the big diesel Paul and dynamic Andrew clicked into gear to ride across and relegate Peter to fourth, Paul sprinting over Andrew for 2nd. Craig slipping quietly in at the back of the bunch in 5th.

 

Not far behind, Tony Mirabella was steaming home for fastest time. Tony is in red hot form and his Scratch partners of Adam Smith and Phil Cartledge struggled to hang on to him. In fact Phil struggled to even start with a combination of man-flu and poor timekeeping abilities. Despite not being in the best of form, Adam and Phil buried themselves chasing the race resulting in Tony coming in 1.5min behind the winner.

 

Results

1st                           Greg Curnow (21 minutes)

2nd                          Paul Humphrey (2 minutes)

3rd                           Andrew Rushton (2 minutes)

4th                           Peter Kiel (2 minutes)

5th                           Craig Lightfoot (5 minutes)

Fastest Time      Tony Mirabella (Scratch)

It’s a Kinna Magic

It’s a Kinna Magic

Weatherboard Handicap

Resplendent in GreenEdge gear and matching bar tape, the “Mercury-al” Robbie Kinna was on song, staging a courageous raid to register a resounding win and break a three year drought between victories.

In a tour de force, the 9 minute bunch of Robbie Kinna, Malcolm Rock, Brian Lee and Kevin Lee (sporting a bit of rouge on his cheek from an encounter with the magpie) were showing solid form and proved very difficult to pull back, maintaining much of their handicap until the final lap. They clawed back the 7 minutes to the 16 minute bunch of Graeme Parker, Murray Bardwell and Tony Herbert. Graeme in particular rode selflessly to assist Robbie and his merry men in the chase, they soon caught limit. The pace, wind and tiring legs was thinning the combined group, undaunted,

Robbie maintained the rage leaving Greg Curnow with only enough time for one expletive as Killer Kinna smashed past Limit. Graeme Parker gave Robbie a bit of a hand to open up a 60m gap, not waiting around, Robbie said “I Want to Break Free”, and left Graeme, riding the last lap out front by himself. Never “Under Pressure” he crossed the line this weeks “Prince of the Universe”.

Earlier, Limit, off 21 minutes, got affairs under way. The odd couple of Jacinta Welch and Greg Curnow accompanied by new rider Matt Kaess had to contend with windy conditions, an undulating course and the local magpies, it was always going to be a challenge. They were caught early but Jacinta and Greg stayed with the bunch, Jacinta posting a Strava QOM time on the circuit, and Greg attacking late to place 5th.

The 5 green bottles off 6 minutes started as the biggest group and the riders to watch. The rampant Craig Lightfoot and Peter Livitsanis set the pace early with John Creek and Dave Berry not shirking their duties. However the group lost potency as one by one it was reduced. Bob Morley was the first to go, 3km in at the Avenue corner (he did recover and finished the race with second scratch). Down to four green bottles they were making steady inroads into the front groups, then Dave punctured, and John was shelled, leaving two green bottles, Peter and Craig to carry on for the last lap and a half.

On the final lap at the top of Weatherboard Road, Craig and Peter finally caught the combined limit, 9 & 16 minute bunches, with Kinna somewhere up ahead. Malcolm saw the chase pair coming and attacked off the front, as did Greg Curnow. Malcolm was the more successful doing enough over the final climb on Hendersons Road to take 3rd.

At Hendersons corner, Craig had caught and dropped Greg and was on Mal’s tail. Peter overcooked the last corner and put it in the grass. Up and over the hill Craig fought off Mal in a sprint for the line to secure 2nd. Peter recovered, caught Greg on the hill to ride away for 4th.

On paper, second scratch should have rode through the field with ease, on a day tailor made for these gear munching strong men. Darren Terry was back in form, riding a surprisingly disciplined race, and new rider Paul Humphrey displayed some gritty determination to hold Scratch as they came through. However Dave Peters was still hurting from the previous days racing and Andrew Rushton is on the comeback trail and needed the run. With the addition of Bob Morley they took some time out of the 6 minute bunch (what was left of it anyway) but fell a couple of minutes short of the winner.

In the battle for fastest time, the Scratch hardmen, Phil Cartledge and Tony Mirabella, combined to chase the bigger groups up the road, which was always going to be a tough mission. With steely resolve they rattled along picking up and dropping riders that had been dislodged from their original groups. Rounding the last turn for home they could see the field scattered out in ones and twos, but the placegetters were a bridge too far. Fastest time went to Tony Mirabella who finished under 2 minutes behind the winner.

 

Results

1st                            Robbie Kinna (9 minutes)

2nd                           Craig Lightfoot (6 minutes)

3rd                           Malcolm Rock (9 minutes)

4th                           Peter Livitsanis (6 minutes)

5th                           Greg Curnow (21 minutes)

Fastest Time          Tony Mirabella (Scratch)

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