June 23, 2019 – Race for Ray – Windmill handicap, 52.5 Km

Remembering a mate – 23rd June 2019

Race for Ray

Windmill circuit – 52.5 Km handicap

 2019 Rescheduled Race for Ray - slide





The best way to describe the 2019 Race For Ray, would be “bracing”…for both the racing and the weather.  Brace for the onslaught of the back markers – bracing for the hard men and women who found an extra pint of courage, to brave the near freezing and pea soup conditions.
Two weeks earlier the race was cancelled due to severe wind warnings, on this day the lightest of breezes would gradually increase throughout the race and it would finally blow the fog away on the last of three laps.  The chill remained throughout the race.  The feels like temperature hovering below two degrees for the entire race…

The rescheduled event was not an entirely Eureka affair.  Diane Jane, Gavin Gamble and Adrian McMillan had all travelled to compete…as had Eureka’s own Don Steward.  Twenty seven riders signed on for the Race For Ray.
All entry money would be pooled with the post race raffle money for donation to the Peter MacCallum Cancer Institute.  Ray had fought and defeated cancer TWICE!  Ray found cycling late in his life and quickly dedicated himself to discovering every new gadget and piece of bling for his bike.  Decades of working in the fashion industry (selling hats and mens clothing) saw Ray have a keen eye for matching kit… lots of it.

The riders were racing for Ray and the wonderful trophies which had been kindly donated by race sponsor Krehalon Australia.

Limit rode off with just 22 minutes in hand.  Terry Collie, Jakkii Dawson, Laura White and Diane Jane (Central Victorian VCC) stuck together, worked well and were hidden from view for the first two laps…
The largest group on the day was Second Limit. Danny Whelan, Bob Morley, Roger McMillan, Don Steward, Andrew Wilson and Adrian McMillan, their 14 minute handicap looked generous with the talent on offer, yet the cold can do funny things to the human body and psyche.
The 11 minute group saw Peter Livitsanis, Shaun Martin, Wayne Klauss and Gavin Gamble (Geelong Surf Coast CC) head out into the fog…it was the last time the four riders would be seen together…
At eight minutes a trio of engines took off – Rob Phillips, Grant Dawson and Bob Braszell.  It’s fair to say that none of these men would shirk their turn on the front!
Second Scratch had five riders with a handy three minute buffer over Scratch.  Old Uni mates (and powerhouses to boot) Greg Ley and Jim Crumpler, joined up with Matt Bowman (apparently he does still ride road bikes), Dennis Neal and Rick Calvert.  With so much firepower on offer, the question was could they harness it?
For Scratch, well the thought of chasing three minutes to Second Scratch had the five scratch riders brimming with confidence at the start line.  Jason Hendry and Tony Mirabella were fresh off their stellar performance the previous week taking 1 and 2 and Stu Brien was keen to atone for failing to finish due to a mechanical.  Add power house Dane Pearce and new comer Shane Clark to the group and you have a pretty formidable bunch.
Clark hails from the land of Ararat but is known as a quality, strong rider who can mix it with the A Graders at our sister club Ballarat Sebastopol.

The cold, damp and foggy conditions made finding the group in front difficult and demoralising for all the groups – except Limit who were flying along as comfortably as could be expected.  They were one of the few groups not to suffer early losses.
The 14 minute group had already lost Don Steward on the first lap.
The 11 minute group lost Livitsanis in the first few kilometres as he fell off the pace on the quarry hill climb.  Klauss dropped back to wait for him, Gamble and Martin pushed on with the intention of closing the distance on Limit and Second Limit – but the fog was playing tricks.

Scratch were out of the blocks – the pace was controlled and methodical.  No explosive first turns, just a gradual ramp up to speed that meant everyone was able to build to threshold in a controlled manner.  All except Mirabella that was – who suffered cramping in both legs in the first few kilometres.  He decided that today was not his day and he put the cue in the rack before the quarry the first time around.  This dampened the enthusiasm of the bunch a little, as it would require a big effort by all remaining Scratch men to round up the field before the finish line.
The cold conditions and the poor visibility made for a very lonely first lap, but the tempo was strong and consistent with all parties swapping track turns.  When the call came at the end of lap 1 that Scratch had made up a minute on the bunch in front, the spirits lifted along with the tempo.

The conditions were still having an effect on some groups during lap 2.  The 14 minute group lost Roger McMillan.  He got back on, then was lost again in the fog.  Whelan reacquainted himself with his breakfast and was off the back as well.
The 11 minute riders – Gamble and Martin rode well, swapping turns.  They started passing riders.  Maybe they were racers, maybe they were coffee riders.  Who could really tell in these conditions?

For Scratch, the second lap was a carbon copy of the first – keeping the pace consistent and solid, whilst the fog shrouded the front groups.  The back half of the course proved much more challenging than the front half with the south westerly coming into play.
Riders started to appear out of the mist as the front of the race started to fall apart and rounding the finish line for the second last time, the gap to Second Scratch had dropped to less than a minute.  No sight of them, but the knowledge gave the back markers hope and wings!

Second Scratch was riding very well – all still present and accounted for!
No one really knows where the 8 minute group was at this stage.  That fog was playing havoc with everything, including reality!

On the final lap the fog finally started to lift.  Limit still had the race lead as they climbed quarry hill for the final time.  Wilson, Morley and Adrian McMillan powered past and Limit blew apart.  Jakkii Dawson and Collie found the slipstream, yet White and Jane were out the back.
Soon after, Collie also dropped away as he watched Wilson on the front seemingly at ease as he led the bunch away.  “Maybe there is something in being in your thirties…” Collie mused to himself.

Scratch were pushing up toward the quarry for the last time, the 3 minute bunch appeared out of the fog and Clark seemed to find another gear at the climb before the turn onto Coghill’s Creek Road – leaving Brien and Pearce gasping for air and scrambling for a wheel.  The corner marshal yells there is 3 minutes to the front of the race.  It’s an ominous sign with 3/4 of a lap to go and Pearce says in a cheerful voice “3 minutes, that’s doable”.  Whooshka!

That race lead was Wilson with Morley and Adrian McMillan in tow.  McMillan spotted a bunch behind… which just happened to be Gamble and Martin who had passed yet more riders and now bore down on the three leaders ahead.  Wilson wasn’t waiting and he took off up the Crick’s Hill rise.  The mature Morley and McMillan wisely waited for Gamble and Martin to catch them.  Wilson was brought back soon after.

Scratch were still closing on the smooth rolling 3 minute group.  It would take until the crest of the hill to effect the catch.  The bunch had quickly doubled in size and Ley immediately turned himself inside out to rip out a turn.
Turning left onto the Addington-Creswick Road for the last time, the sting came out of the pace as the front markers came into view and it became clear that it was going to be a Scratch kind of day.
The Donovans Road left hander had been a tricky one to negotiate with conditions a little sketchy, this time was no different except there were quite a few more riders.  Over the rise and the remnants of the front of the race were swept up after the road flattened off with under three kilometres remaining.

The race was together for a bunch sprint – fifteen riders and four different bunches represented.  Calvert launched a brave (yet futile) attack about one kilometre from the crest of the final rise – which was quickly covered.
With the race together, none of the Scratch riders were keen to put their noses into the wind at this point, so the cats played with the mice.  Some attacks came from a few brave souls hoping to break the will of the group – but nothing stuck or rattled the cage enough to change the script.
This would be a Scratch Trifecta.
Heart rates dropped, anticipation grew.

The bunch widened as riders held back their sprint as the finish line approached.  800, 500, 300 to go, then “BANG”, it was on like Donkey Kong!

Clark launched with Pearce locked on like a guided missile.
Clark gets an early break, but out wide Hendry was winding up.  He had been calm and well placed for the sprint.  His judgment was spot on – no one was able to grab his wheel as he took off and held a handy margin to the line for First and Fastest.  Brien peeled off the Pearce ”lead out” to challenge late, yet Clark held out for second.  Brien third, Ley fourth and the brilliant Martin in fifth.

Results: 1st – Jason Hendry (Scratch)
2nd – Shane Clarke (Scratch)
3rd – Stu Brien (Scratch)
4th – Greg Ley (3 min)
5th – Shaun Martin (11 min)
Fastest Time – Jason Hendry (Scratch) in 1h 20m, ave. 39.4 Kph

*Thank you to the many contributors who made this report possible.  Stu Brien provided the bulk of the report, with input from Terry Collie and short reports from Bob Morley and Shaun Martin.  It truly makes our job of weaving the story together easier, when most of the words are provided. 


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