October 22, 2017 – Coghills Creek, 63 km handicap

Gretton’s Big Statement – 22 October 2017

Club Handicap

Coghills Creek circuit – 63 km


The Ralph Jones Equation

F= CdA p [v^2/2]

F = Aerodynamic drag force in Newtons.
p = Air density in kg/m3 (typically 1.225kg in the “standard atmosphere” at sea level) 
v = Velocity (metres/second). Let’s say 10.28 which is 23mph


Ralph Jones (aka James Gretton) made the 63 kilometre handicap around the Coghills Creek circuit his own today, racing away in a strong solo effort to an emphatic win.
Riders arrived to find misty rain sweeping across Learmonth and a southerly wind which was increasing.  By race start time the threat of rain had passed along with a noticeable rise in temperature.

John Faulkner (Limit) led out the field on his lonesome at 27 minutes.  Terry Collie (also riding in a solo capacity) was next away at 21 minutes.

It was a long wait until the first actual bunch of riders set off at 14 minutes, where handicapper Peter Livitsanis slotted himself in with Danny Whelan, James Gretton, James Knipe, Kevin Lee and regular visitor Noel Said (Northern Cycling).

The Second Scratch (3 min) group set off a whopping 11 minutes later with Mark O’Callaghan, Rick Calvert, Richard Taylor, Matt Ayres and Stuart Brien joining the “in form” Peter Canny.

Last away was the Scratch group led by Club Champion Greg Ley.  Late arrival Jim Crumpler joined the ranks which also included Tony Mirabella, Dean Wells, Craig Lee and Paul Pickersgill.

With twenty riders out on course the key to victory in the windy conditions appeared to be as simple as “the bunch who works together wins”, especially with nine of the riders backing up after racing with sister club Ballarat Sebastopol the previous day.
Riding solo did not augur well for the soloists John Faulkner and Terry Collie.  Faulkner lasted two laps before retiring and Collie was swept aside by every group before also retiring.  The three groups of six riders faired much better out on course, however each suffered early casualties.
Richard Taylor (3 min) was the first rider out after he hit a pot hole and flatted just nine kilometres into the race.
Scratch lost Jim Crumpler after their frenetic chase and surging split the group through Coghills Creek.
The 14 minute group also lost a rider when Peter Livitsanis flatted on the first lap early in Donovans Road.

A consistent theme with each of the (now) five man groups, was that one or two riders in the groups were doing the lion’s share of the work, maybe even dominating… Whelan and Gretton led the charge for the 14 minute group, Ayres and Brien were powering the 3 minute group and Mirabella was clearly above the pack in Scratch.
Cohesive turns were important for a group’s survival and some were doing it better than others!

It was on the second lap that first Collie, then Faulkner were rounded up by the hordes.  The 3 minute group found themselves another man down after O’Callaghan trailed off heading up past the quarry.  The remaining four riders kept their rotations orderly – rolling turns with the tailwind and track turns into the head wind.
Having only made up 30 seconds on the first lap, Scratch finally found their mojo and started to work well together.  They would take another 40 seconds on this lap, however they lost Pickersgill after the hairpin bend at the top end of the circuit.
Now in the race lead, the 14 minute group were working as best they could with the varying physiques they had available and they couldn’t see anyone behind.

Onto the third and final lap and the 14 minute group started to dream big.  Knipe lost contact heading past the quarry.  The remaining four rallied, knowing that the tailwind to Coghills Creek could make all the difference.
The 3 minute group had the race leaders in their sites, however the gap was still large and would require an even greater effort to make the catch.
Scratch were still taking time out of those ahead as they raced up the hill on the south side of the circuit, however disaster soon struck when Mirabella’s power drew him away from the group and a fifty metre gap quickly opened.  All cohesion was gone as the remnants of Scratch struggled just to try and catch up with Mirabella again.

At the head of the race and the 14 minute group realised they had a huge chance of causing a boilover.  The next bunch on the road was back at the bridge near Blowhard – over one kilometre behind.
‘But the hour cometh, and now is’.
Gretton gave a cry of “let’s go” and powered to the front with Whelan, Said and Lee all scrambling for his wheel.

The 3 minute group could barely make out the leaders on the horizon.  They looked behind and struggled to see anyone.  Beating Scratch home would be a victory in itself!

Scratch were coming, however Mirabella was still out on his own.  The others finally linked back up racing through Blowhard.
The gap to the bunch ahead was under two minutes, so the catch is unlikely and they are now just racing for Fastest Time.  Wells was shelled on the next climb and just three remained.

Gretton was still on the front as the race leaders are neared Coghills Creek.  He turned around to see that he has dropped his bunch.
With ten kilometres to race he makes the decision to GO!  Whelan, Said and Kevin Lee have watched the all powerful Gretton ride away from them.
Maybe they could still claim all the minor placings if the headwind after the hairpin doesn’t rip them apart…but maybe, their bell has tolled.

Ayres, Brien, Calvert and Canny still worked their turns.  They didn’t know the lead group had started to disintegrate, but they did know that Scratch was still a long way behind.  No further encouragement needed!

Scratch raced through Coghills Creek and Craig Lee was off the back, leaving just Mirabella and Ley to continue the chase.

Gretton was through the chicane and onto Donovans Road for the final time.  He batts away the headwind and focuses on the now.
His former cohorts have blown apart and are strung out in their own battles.  Second Scratch catch Knipe who has continued on after being dropped back at the quarry – he offers that they still have a chance.
Soon after and Ayres bids his mates adiue and eases off the back – stuffed!  Brien, Calvert and Canny continue on, they catch and drop Whelan.  Lee is the next rider up the road.  He cannily jumps onto the 3 minute express as it flies past.  They see the next rider ahead (Said), however they don’t realise Gretton is charging towards a famous victory.  In fact, they don’t even realise they are now racing for a minor placing.

Mirabella and Ley are still chasing, however they are losing their hard fought time over the Second Scratch group.  Fastest Time should be safe though…shouldn’t it?

Gretton is over the final hill.  Two kilometres of fun as he roars down to the finish line with songs of victory sounding in his mind.  One last look over his shoulder and he knows he is home.  “Come ON!”
And, the flag.

Said comes through in second place.  Brien and company are still rotating turns and don’t even really bother to sprint as they near the line.
Brien takes third and Canny is fourth.  Kevin Lee knows he can grab a placing and he whips around Calvert at the line to claim fifth.

Mirabella and Ley aren’t far away.  They are now foxing each other in the run to the line for Fastest Time.
Unbeknownst to the pair the stopwatch has counted on so far that they may even have fallen in arrears.  Ley makes a late dive and claims a victory over Mirabella.

*A recheck of the times in the clubrooms eventually shows that Stu Brien from the 3 minute group has ridden the Fastest Time on this day.

Race Results:
1st – James Gretton (14 minutes)
2nd – Noel Said (14 minutes)
3rd – Stuart Brien (3 minutes)
4th – Peter Canny (3 minutes)
5th – Kevin Lee (14 minutes)
Fastest Time – Stuart Brien (3 minutes) in 1h 41m 10s, ave. 37.0 kph

Photo (L-R): A happy Second Scratch group rejoice in beating the formidable Scratch bunch home…


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