As the trickle of competitors and volunteers arrived nobody was in a hurry to get their cycling kit on.The race was to start at 10 o'clock so we had around an hour.
Time to pay my entry,get my race number and have a look at the handicaps for the day. I was quite pleased with my handicap and had ridden with all the riders who would be in my group.Dr.Gav was in there as well as the ever young Laurie Lyster whom I spend lot's of my racing days with.Having a read through the start list I couldn't help but notice the calibre of the riders in the Scratch bunch.James Boal,Ashley Baines and Tully Lyster were local inclusions as well as some very strong visitors inclucing Drapac Professional Rhys Pollock who had recently won the Tour of Taiwan.
I was confident we had a decent chance to win the race as I knew all riders in my group would work well together which is the key to these handicap events.As luck would have it the fog was also pretty much gone by the time we started.We would have to ride well as those following would also be working well together and doing their best to catch us.
We had 36 starters for the 2012 Graeme Dawes memorial Handicap.
Limit were off at 10.10 am, with gaps as per start list above.
By Boweya Rd, the 10.5min group had made 30 sec on the 15min group, who were working a treat together.
Along the road to Thoona the limit group were already splintering and they looked like they had a tough 35km ahead.
In Thoona, the limit group had got together again but the 2nd limit were hot on their heals. The 15 min group were still looking strong working together. The gap to the next group had stretched out to 4 1/2 min (starting time) and this group looked to be swallowed up by the block and scratch group, who had formed one big group and were only 2 minutes behind.
At the foot of the Warby’s, some strong limit riders had driven ahead, but the rest had been swallowed by the 15 min group, who still looked strong. Scratch had by now caught both groups ahead of them and only the strong would survive.
At the top of the climb to the Warbys 5 riders had broken clear of the stragglers, they were Laurie Lyster, Gifford Crosthwaite, Tony Reeckman, Adam Cartwright and Gavin Frawley, then followed some remnants of the front groups followed 3 minutes later by scratchies Rhys Pollock, Ash Baines, James Boal a short distance to Trent Stevenson, then Tully Lyster, Heath Mullavey(block) and Tomarsh Loki(10.5min). Shortly after Boal flatted and day was done.
Descending Ryans the front group of 5 were strong and looked threatening. This group continued along Wangandary Road driving the front, with Pollock, Baines and Stevenson (who had bridged back on) in hot pursuit (to give you some idea of speed Tomarsh, who was well behind, was avging 45+kph in a group driven by Thrummy – so front group were even faster than that!!).
With 400 metres to go in a 68km race the scratch markers caught the front 5 and stole the chocolates from the hard workers, who filled the next 5 places with Dave Wohlers and Geoff Morley next, then a group of 3 and then another 3 (mostly scratch & block + John Myles & Tomarsh).
My embellishment of the last kilometer
Turning into Reith Road my bunch was 5 strong including Dr.Gav,Laurie,Gifford and Adam.We had been told scratch were coming hard and we had to ride at our limit if there was any chance of staying away.So head down and push hard working together with a little over a kilometer to ride, swallowed up by 3 scratch riders(Baines,Stevenson and Pollock) with around 500 metres to go I somehow managed to jump on the back along with Dr Gav and Adam.The group then seemed to bunch up a little and I noticed Ashley Baines drift to the back of the group,I was pretty comfortable if not a little amazed to be in with a pretty strong bunch of riders.When Ash jumped into the slipstream of a vehicle that was overtaking the bunch, I tried to go with him.He was too strong and I had waited just a second before responding to his attack.I did however find myself second on the road with about 350metres to go.All I could do was try and ride as hard as I could to the finnish but I could feel the effort taking it's toll.Caught again by the rest of the bunch with Ash Baines surging clear for the win.Trent Stevenson jumped for second followed by Rhys Pollock third.Dr Gav came through in 4th followed by myself then Adam Cartwright.
Note added on 9-5-2012
I realise the above embellishment of the finnish created some controversy. I wanted to clarify that when I said "Ash jumped into the slipstream of a vehicle that was overtaking the bunch".What I believe happened was he jumped just as the vehicle passed us and may have got a small advantage momentarily but was not motorpacing behind the vehicle.The vehicle quickly accelerated away from us.
Special thanks also to the ladies in the kitchen who prepared the after race refreshments.Everybody that I spoke to really enjoyed the event and in my opinion this was country racing at it's best.
I've also added the Strava file or my ride below.