Reg Bradley - a past champion and long time member of the Coburg Cycling Club.
A mass start secret handicap, 3 laps of Carlsruhe West (75kms). Masters and women started together with a total of 32 riders. I assumed I'd be given scratch, or very near scratch, so I had to get up the road ASAP. 2kms rolling "warm up" then I attacked on the first hill. Fraser Short (Italo) covered the move and took over powering on the front. By the first corner we had around 40m gap to the bunch but we were a long way from home and needed a few more legs to help work into the wind. All back together for the next 10kms or so - I let a few of the front riders know that I was going to attack on the next hill and I needed them to be there on the acceleration. Chopper (Coburg) and Peter O’Callaghan (Brunswick) knew of my intentions and were there to keep the pace up. We dropped a few but the pace eased up on the front meant a few riders got back on. Into the wind for the first time and most people were rolling through for turns. This race had to break up soon if we had any chance of getting a place. John McDonald (Hawthorn) was spotted pulling turns on the front before surrendering to his flu on lap 2. Mel Humphreys-Grey (Northcote) was also seen at the pointy end of the bunch before the screws tightened up the hill.
Around 1km from the first 'ascent' of the hill before the start/finish I recruited a few more people for an attack. This time it stuck. We had only 5 or 6 at the front, with another small bunch of 5 or 6 chasing - and the rest I couldn't see. The few of us at the pointy end were working good turns and after some encouragement we were opening the gap on the chase group. A few minutes later Fraser (Italo) had bridged the gap solo to the front group with a massive effort. Our front group worked relatively well to put time into the riders behind us. I was scoping out who I was riding against and asking what grades people rode so I had an idea of what handicap they'd have been given. Some B graders were contributing well, Peter O’Callaghan was an A grader so I knew he and I had to make the moves.
5kms into the final lap Peter does a solo fly from our group, people hesitate and I'm blocked in. The call was "he will be scratch, don't worry too much". So I jump and try solo back onto Peter's wheel. If the bunch wasn't going to chase a scratch then I'd have a chance at getting away from them. I was slowly reeling in Peter when the bunch were back on me and willing to pull turns. I believe it was Michael Hartman (Preston) who had done most of the work pulling me back - I throw my elbow for him to come through but he asked for rest before he pulled through for a turn. No worries. I kept the power on and was happy to have someone who was on my wheel willing to pull a turn. Michael and I work a few turns and reach Peter. A few riders had been dropped and we were down to around 5 or so riders. The riders I recall at this point were me, Chopper, Fraser, Michael, Peter, and maybe one or two more. Trevor Perry (Hawthorn) was riding strong with our break and either still there or had just been popped.
Into the final 10kms and into the block head wind. Peter was getting a little narky at riders not rolling through - and rightly so - this was a handicap and we all had a common goal of putting time into dropped riders. However, if these riders knew we were scratch and they were not - sitting on us may be a winning tactic. Chopper was putting in some great turns on the front. Turning into the wind and Peter attacks the group, I jump across. Michael powers across and that makes three of us off the front. Peter was riding strong so I mention to him that I'm not there for the win, I just want to put maximum time into people behind us, so I'd do whatever I can to drag us three to the line.
Peter and Michael take advantage of my generosity and I'm soon pulling 200m turns for their 50-100m turns. No worry for me, this is all good training and they'll no doubt remember this in other races. I'm looking at both their faces as I swing out of the wind. We're all hurting just as much as each other, that's all that counts. 1km from the line and the final hill is approaching. Peter and Michael slow down to start a cat and mouse game - I keep on the gas and come past them. "Guys, GET ON, I'll tow you to the line!!". Again they take up my offer and I'm on the white line giving them a good sit from the wind. At this point I've chosen more time over line honours and I'm TTing to the base of the hill with two on my wheel.
Not wanting to hand the race to either of them on a platter, at 400m to go I swing to the gutter on the left to make sure they have to ride the hill honestly. Half way up the hill, 350m to go still no attack from either of them. I keep the power on around 80% effort when I hear "oh shit"... Looking back I see Peter has cramped and Michael riding the long way around him. I had a 5m gap on them so I attack. I keep on the gas and take fastest time by 7 seconds from Michael. Peter gets 3rd to the line. An extremely rewarding result given I wasn't riding for line honours. $40 for the fastest time and $30 for the 5th place in the handicap. Trevor takes the handicap win - a great reward after hearing his story of solo effort into the head wind!
Placing Name Handicap Corrected ‘Sealed’ Time
1 Trevor Perry 12.00 -9.03
2 Kendell Hodges 16.00 -8.03
3 Michael Hartman 7.00 -6.53
4 Eric Thompson 8.00 -3.01
5 Shane Miller Scratch 0.00
6 Christine Foster 8.00 +0.08
7 Andrew Gannon 8.00 +0.13
8 Peter O’Callaghan Scratch +0.16
9 Carlo Modulan 8.00 +0.16
10 Fraser Short 1.00 +0.26