The first rule of a handicap, don't mention the handicaps! :) A number of riders found the handicapping on the day a real challenge. Limit was off 46 minutes, and A grade had been split into scratch and a seven minute bunch. I was off scratch with five others including Steffers, Viv McCarthy, Nathan Elliott, and an unknown Brunswick rider. It was around 9 degrees, 40km/h northerly wind, and a light showers every now and then... perfect winter combine racing conditions!
From the gun the Brunswick rider was on the pace, yelling at us to keep smooth. None of us knew him, so we assumed he was serious given how he was riding and how vocal he was. 8 minutes up the road he starts missing turns. Was he foxing? Seemed a little like he was happy to have the four of us set the pace and sit on. After he missed a few more turns, I asked him if he was 'on the limit' (or maxing out). "Yeah mate, I am", but then he pulls another two strong turns. We still didn't know if he was foxing us.... 14kms into the 90km handicap he was off the back of us and not seen again. I guess he wasn't foxing... but what we couldn't work out is why he was so vocal and strong for the first few kms? The standard practice is to at least let everyone know well in advance if you're hurting and won't go the distance... he may have punctured? Dunno.. long story short, there were only four of us left and there was a long way to go!
The four of us rolled track turns for the rest of the day, passing only a handful of riders who found the distance tough. We had one dropped rider join us and pull a few solid turns for a few kms before calling it quits. 20kms from home and our turns were getting less even. I kept putting in what I could on the front to give us a chance at fastest time. 8kms to go and we could still see no groups up the road... so it would come down to our own battle for fastest time. I put in a good turn up Dons Rd and swung off before the final hill crest. Viv was on the front and we'd stopped rolling turns. The cat and mouse had begun! Before things slowed right up, I hit them with 1.2km to go. Looking back I could only see Viv bridging across. He was closing the gap I'd opened up but I made him work for it! We had to slow right up for the final corner as it was wet and slippery. 430m to go! I kicked again and could feel Viv breathing down my neck. I thought he was going to roll me, so I held my line for the final kick to the line. The rubber band keeping him on my wheel snapped and I was able to roll over the line clear of my chasers. We did manage to pull back 5 minutes or so on the next bunch, so that was enough to win fastest time for the day. The winners and 'fastest time' got a nice swag of cash for their efforts, and neat diamond shaped trophies, presented by Roly Kelson's daughter.
1. Mark Ukotic (Sun)
2. Garry Lugg (St K)
3. Michael Hartman (Pres)
1. Jenny Macpherson (CCCC)
2. Nonie Carr (Brun)
3. Caitlin Chancellor (St K)
Fastest Time. Shane Miller (Haw)