Mirabella Handicap 2012

The Rush is On

Andrew Rushton opened up a big can of whoop-ass to outsprint several of the clubs “heavy-hitters” and take out this year’s Mirabella handicap. In a race that saw 21 riders greeted by a windy and wet Ballarat winters day, and only 13 completing the course, it was a race of attrition where only the fit and strong (or stubborn) survived.

Andrew combined with Darren Terry and Rod Hetherington off 4 minutes, riding like a black steam train they grabbed the sharp end of the race on the final lap of the 4 lap race around the Hetherington circuit. With what remained of the 8 and 12 minute bunches just clinging to their back wheels they had more than enough firepower to take all the trophies in the final sprint.

The 8 minute bunch of Dean Griffin, Ken Heres, Brian Lee and Peter Livitsanis had set to work early to reel in the out markers, the early climbs proving a bit much for Ken who is struggling to find his old form and he dropped off early. The remaining three were encouraged as they began to sweep up riders shaken loose from their groups. The 12 minute bunch containing Bob Morley and Robbie Kinna (returning for his first race since his sign bending spill on the Windmill circuit) was the prize, once caught the combined group worked well to catch the front of the race, together they stayed clear of Andrew’s 4 minute bunch and scratch for most of the race.

Earlier, the front of the race had been decimated. The limit markers of Ray Hodgson and John Faulkner fought on bravely in the wind but were swept up just before the end of lap 3. Only Ron Larkin from the 20 minute bunch managed to stay in touch as the race came together with Garry Blood pedalling in squares on the last uphill on Weatherboard Road. The 16 minute bunch pretty much “disappeared” with Brett Caddy the last survivor. Bob Morely and Robbie Kinna riding an inspiring race, had dispensed with Mal Rock on the first lap, then picked up Brett and dropped him, twice.

The last lap saw the 4 minute bunch finally capture the combined 8 and 12 minute bunch on Weatherboard road and with grim determination they asked some serious questions of some tiring legs along the Avenue. The Hendersons Road section was completed at pace with a huge tailwind and the large combined group rounded the corner largely intact and well clear of scratch. It was setting up as an orthodox sprint until Livitsanis made a trademark futile bid off the front to break up everyone’s concentration. He drew Darren Terry out and together they got 30m with the rest all looking at each-other to see who was going to close them down. They needn’t have worried because Darren and Peter lost their appetite for the long distance raid and sat up. With the group back together the tempo went up again rounding the corner past the clubrooms, an oncoming car closed down the preferred attack line and strung the bunch out behind the leaders. Andrew, Darren and Rod went from the front with about 400m to go, with Andrew holding Rod all the way to the line, and Darren fading late. A bike length or two behind was a fast finishing Peter and the ever improving Dean.

Scratch raced hard but didn’t see anyone all day. Guy Falla and Tony Mirabella were backing up from the Cashin the day before and Phil Cartledge was still aching from his successful Tour of Bendigo campaign (he won C Grade – great stuff Phil!!). They rode very well to hang on to fastest time given that the rest of the race had come together to share the work. Tony pulled the plug on the down hill towards the piggery on the last lap (most likely didn’t want to contend his own trophy race!) which left Guy and Phil to duke it out for fastest time. Guy was the strongest on the day and beat Phil by a wheel or less in an exciting final sprint in front of quite a crowd or retired riders at the finish line.

Well done to all the brave souls who pinned on numbers and a special thank you to Tony for sponsoring the race.


1.     Andrew Rushton (4 minutes)

2.     Rod Hetherington (4 minutes)

3.     Darren Terry (4 minutes)

4.     Peter Livitsanis (8 minutes)

5.     Dean Griffin (8 minutes)

Fastest Time: Guy Falla (scratch)

Ray Doubles-up

Ray Hodgson scored another victory for the season on the pave of the Windmill circuit, and firmed as an early favourite for the Club Aggregate. Ably assisted by the workhorse John Faulkner, this dynamic duo were never threatened, indeed they rode so well they were never seen, winning by a minute or two. That’s not to say the chasing bunches weren’t working hard, and some creative handicapping had thrown a few wild cards into the mix to keep things interesting.

Chasing Ray and John, 13 minutes back, the 20 minute combination of Shirley Hetherington, Greg Curnow and Steven Kennedy always knew that the bunch behind were going to catch them before they caught Ray, and they rode accordingly, leaving enough in the tank to race with the bunch behind when they came through.

Tracking them down was the in-form fabulous foursome of Graeme Parker, Mandy Rhook, Jacinta Welch, and Gary Blood off 15 minutes. This bunch has shown dramatic improvement over the early part of the season and has become very difficult to chase down. They were riding as hard as they could early, as just 1 minute back the lurkin Ron Larkin, Matt “donkey” Ritchie and Brett Caddy were pressing hard to combine. As a three they had little hope, but as a seven they could have threatened. Ron, Brett and Matt rode consistently without taking time out of Parker’s Pack in front. However this chase took its toll, sitting like road-kill at the bottom of Quarry Hill, they were finally dispensed with on the last lap when the big pack of chasing riders swallowed them up and spat them out the back.

The handicapper had handed the 9 minute bunch of Bob Morley, Brenton Keats, Brian Lee and Dean Griffon a similar puzzle with a bunch of Peter Livitsanis, John Creek, Kevin Lee and the mystified Mal Rock, just one minute back. Although it took Brenton a while to cotton on, Bob and Dean took the first half lap at a steady pace while the bunch behind chased hard, Bob even gave up a few seconds at the start to adjust his GPS. The two groups coming together to share the first headwind section down Donovans Road – perfecto!! Now with 8 to share the work and the wind the pace increased and the race started to open up for this group. Dean rode a strong race, putting in a few monstrous turns down the back section that had the bunch strung out in single file chewing on their handlebars. The Parker bunch was in the gun sights by the last Donovan’s Road corner with the catch being made just after the first pinch. With Ray and John still nowhere in sight this large pack worked home to set up a sprint for third.
With about 750m to go, and for the first time in the race, Mal went to the front and opened up a sprint far too early, Peter grabbed his wheel. Mal didn’t get far, but had gapped the field, he dropped Peter off to go alone, luckily no one else really felt like a sprint and he crossed for third. John Creek, Greg Curnow and Steven Kennedy got interested late with John taking fourth, with Steven fifth.

It was a day for casual starts with Rod Hetherington missing his allotted 2 minute start time, leaving Darren Terry to roll off by himself to wait up the road for the scratch pairing of Shane Cody and Phil Cartledge, with Rod hanging on for part of the first lap. Darren rode a great race with scratch, backing up from riding at Rochester the day before. The threesome combined well to gradually claw back the 5 minute bunch of Ken Heres, Richard Taylor and Philippa Read, on the last lap. Ken’s bunch had been riding solidly and had pulled some time out of the 8 minute bunch on the first lap, but they needed the extra fire power of Scratch if they were to catch the combined 8/9 minute pack. The six Scratch and second scratch riders all rounded the last corner together and in the final sprint Shane turned on the warp drive to take fastest time.

First: Ray Hodgson (33 Minutes)
Second: John Faulkner (33 Minutes)
Third: Peter Livitsanis (8 minutes)
Fourth: John Creek (8 minutes)
Fifth: Steven Kennedy (20 minutes)
Fastest Time: Shane Cody (Scratch)

Adam’s Magnificent Hard-ride

Windfarm Hill Climb Handicap

Adam Smith lead the scratch bunch with intent and steely determination to score a famous win atop the Windfarm climb in Belgian-esque weather conditions. Adam was particularly keen to win the race as it was the bunch’s first race hit out since losing their co-scratch man Doug Garley. It’s a hard race when 25% of the field doesn’t even finish and the difference between first and last is measured in kilometres, and it takes a hardman to win it.

So potent was the scratch bunch of Adam, Phil Cartledge and Peter Keil that they devastated every bunch they caught, very few went very far on their back wheels. Scratch rounded up the 17 minute lead bunch of Ron Larkin, Gary Blood Graham Parker, Jacinta Welch and Mandy Rhook that was still intact late in the race, despite Ronnie trying to break the bunch into weather board road. Scratch went past half way along the Addington stretch and Ronnie jumped on as did big Gazza. Big Gazza was determined not to let Larkin get away because Ronnie had been telling him all week what he was going do to Gazza.

Scratch eased a little, preparing for the final brutal climb. You could tell they meant business when Phil went to the back and proceeded to empty his water bottle to shed weight and another couple of bottles were slung to the roadside.

Phil attacked into the final corner and attacked out of it and caught the bunch unawares. It was only Big Smithy that bridged and it was down to a two man race. They pulled well clear and it was on the second last climb that Smith, noticing that Phil was still in the big chain ring and was on his smallest option, jumped wide and hard and pulled a race winning break. Pete Kiel took third. Big Gazza was on Pete’s wheel for three quarters of the climb. It looked like King Kong sitting on Stuart Little!! Gary scoring fourth from Ron in fifth.

Further back in the race the scene was one of carnage, the road littered with the remains of bunches that scratch had destroyed. Second scratch of Darren Terry, Richard Taylor and Andrew Rushton were the first to be tested and found wanting. Richard and Andrew blew early and settled for a training ride, Darren held on for a while and although popped off the back, still managed to bridge to the middle-marker bunch by himself on the final climb.

Off 4 minutes Philippa Read and Dean Griffon, were in for a hard ride as a group of two in a strengthening wind. Dean is returning to racing and scratch soon put paid to his race, Pippa bravely riding on solo to complete the journey even when all was lost.

The 9 minute bunch of John Creek, Peter Livitsanis, Brian Lee and Brett Caddy got off to a quick start and kept things rolling smoothly gaining ground on the bunches in front up each hill. They soon picked up the loose riders Terry Collie and Geoff Braszell, blown out of their bunch by the wind. On the last lap they caught the 13 minute bunch of Mal Rock, Terry Constable and Matt Ritchie remaining together until Scratch smashed through just past the clubrooms. Peter, John and Brian all made the attempt to get on, but the 10km/hr difference in speed was a sprint too far, the two Terry’s, Mal, Matt and Brett succumbing to the brutal attack. Peter, John and Brian regrouped and settled in to try to catch what remained of the Larkin bunch, however this was not to be and the group strung out on the last climb and limped home.




First and Fastest:                  Adam Smith (scratch)

Second:                                 Phil Cartledge (scratch)

Third:                                    Peter Kiel (scratch)

Fourth:                                  Gary Blood (17 minutes)

Fifth:                                     Ron Larkin (17 minutes)

Team Time Trial – Rhooks Rouleurs Roll the Rest

In a dominant display of power riding, John Rhook lead his team of Terry Collie, Terry Constable, and Peter Livitsanis to a handsome victory in the Eureka Vets inaugural team time trial on the Weatherboard circuit.

5 teams of four participated in this popular race, with each team made up of a rider from each of the grades. Each team adopted slightly different tactics to account for the spread of ability in their team, with a few noticeable common elements eg the A grade rider did most of the work up front with the lower grade riders peeling off with one and two laps to go.

John Rhooks team left the engine work to John who essentially led from start to finish with the only reprieves coming when the other riders needed a break from his tenacious pace setting. Peter Livitsanis did the sheep dog work rounding up any stragglers and trying to keep the Terry’s together just behind John. The team, although looking a bit of a shambles from the outside, managed to average over 37km/hr with a last lap average of 39km/hr which nearly killed the sheepdog.

After ripping himself up the day before, Tony Mirrabella’s contribution to his team of Bob Morely, Gail Oliver and Greg Curnow looked doubtful. However, the mercurial Tony showed he was made of harder stuff than us mere mortals and lead his exhausted team to a very respectable second place. Both Gail and Greg rode strongly and Bob found out what max heart rate means on the last lap. With some gentle encouragement from Tony, Bob’s last desperate gasps secured second place.

Andrew Rushton was ably assisted by John “Mr Crit” Creek, Ron Larkin and Brett Caddy to score third place. The foursome were all riding well which caused some debate at the end of the second lap as to who, if anyone, would drop out. Ron and Brett left it to Creekie and Andrew to finish off the last lap, the team finishing third, just 8 seconds behind Team Mirrabella. Andrew’s jacket flapping around behind him like a parachute may have cost them 2nd place.

David Peters lead out perhaps the most even bunch of four comprising himself, Dean Wells, Peter May and Geoff Braszell. They were always going to have to rely on superior team work and silky smooth turns to do well, and to their credit finished less than a minute behind 3rd place.

Darren Terry, Dean Griffin, Alan Barnet, Mandy Rhook started well with strong man Darren riding with disregard to any wind that might have been around. Unfortunately Mandy suffered and early puncture and retired, leaving the heavy lifting to Alan, who did well to hang on to the two workhorses. Despite being a rider short this combination posted a time only 15 seconds slower than 3rd.

Shane Cody’s team didn’t quite look like the draft team he posted earlier in the week, but the combination of Kevin Lee, Matt Ritchie and Gary Blood certainly had the diesel engines needed for success in a time-trial. Shane’s captaincy differed from the other teams, he was determined to have a good time and share the love around with everyone spending time on the front and working hard, which meant Shane could recover from time to time before lifting the pace again. This tactic meant everyone got to put in and practice working as a bunch, it also meant that their time suffered, finishing a tad under four minutes behind the winners.


1st                  1:05:43                                    John Rhook, Terry Constable, Terry Collie, Peter Livitsanis

2nd                  1:07:20                                    Tony Mirrabella, Bob Morely, Gail Oliver, Greg Curnow

3rd                  1:07:28                                    Andrew Rushton, John Creek, Brett Caddy, Ron Larkin

4th                  1:07:43                                    Darren Terry, Dean Griffin, Alan Barnett, Mandy Rhook

5th                  1:08:22                                    Dave Peters, Dean Wells, Peter May, Geoff Braszell

6th                  1:09:05                                    Shane Cody, Kevin Lee, Matt Ritchie, Gary Blood

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