The past weekend provided a typical offering of fun regional and club racing, with a double handicap weekend on the cards.
Tolland Open Handicap
Saturday was a day trip to the heart of the Riverina, on the outskirts of Wagga to race the Tolland Open handicap. With the race starting at 1pm, we were able to leave Canberra at the leisurely hour of 8am; it was a welcome opportunity to enjoy a small sleep-in on a race day.
On the drive down the weather was looking ominous, however the Bureau of Meteorology promised that we wouldn’t get too wet.
Once we arrived in Wagga, the conditions seemed perfect for a handicap. There was no noticeable wind, and the temperature was perfect! I had requested the use of the team’s communal skin-suit for the day due to how flat and fast the course appeared to be; I was thankful that it wasn’t 40 degrees. As more people appeared closer to race time, it became clear that everyone loves a bit of “free” speed as there were plenty of deep wheels and aero helmets to be seen.
After we had signed on, Scott found the cable clamp for his rear brake had split. With some quick teamwork using three pairs of hands (as sometime required for brakes) we managed to clamp the cable in the release cam.
We continued getting ready, and unfortunately Scott’s jersey zipper broke. Luckily I had my jersey to spare as I was rolling around in the communal skin-suit.
We lined up at the start. All of us were seeded in Block group, aside from Scott who was in Scratch. Once we were set off the pace was relatively quick, I was unsure of how challenging the climbing would be in each 15km lap. It turned out there was one very small hill, with a pretty gentle gradient. We averaged around 45km/h for two and a bit laps until scratch caught us. Overall the bunch was pretty uneventful, aside from the standard couple of dropped bidons. All of the team was looking strong and sitting in a good position within the bunch.
During lap 4 of 5, I hit a pothole reasonably hard and found my brake had jammed on. Sadly, that was the end of the race for me. I made my way back the finish line to watch the final sprint. Amazingly the rain held off and Scratch didn’t catch Limit, and at the finish we got to watch two bunches sprint across the line.
After making friends with a horse next to the children’s playground we packed up and headed home.
Vikings CC Lookout Hill Handicap
Sunday presented another handicap race, this time a little closer but with a similarly relaxed start time. A few of us met at Curtin shops to intake some caffeine at Red Brick Espresso before heading down to Point Hut Crossing for the race. (A pretty convenient location for myself and my housemate, as Redbrick is right across the road from our apartment!)
We had a good bunch riding south through Tuggeranong. Just after Point Hut we collected McCosker and Pickering and continued to the start line. It turned out that we had arrived somewhat early and had a fair bit of time to kill so we chatted prior to the start. I’d forgotten to bring any food, so I drank a water bottle to keep hunger away, although I’m not sure I would have been able to fit any in as the pockets of the communal skinsuit were stuffed with CO2, a tube and a couple of gels.
All of us were in scratch this time round, and as we rolled out it became clear that this club race was up to offer a challenge to match the day before. Rolling two laps from Lookout hill to Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve and back, there was a lot more vertical in comparison to the Wagga race.
The pace of the bunch was reasonably quick, with everyone trying to keep a hard pace line rolling as much as possible the whole time. Eventually we caught all the grades, and were looking strong coming up to the hill sprint finish. It wasn’t to be however, as the lone tandem made it across the line about a minute earlier!
After handing our numbers back in, we all rolled back to Red Brick for more coffee, and post race cake. Due to the significant amounts of glass on the road Dunny got a flat on his front tub, and had the excitement of the tyre nearly rolling off the rim. Thankfully we were very close to the cafe, and Dunny was able to slowly roll the rest of the way. We caught up with Michelle who had been out taking photos of the race and supporting as usual. A couple more friends turned up and we relaxed in the midday sun, savouring the last of the Autumn warmth before the Canberra winter starts to kick in.
After enjoying the post-race banter and a fantastic cappuccino, it was finally time to head back to the reality of Sunday afternoons, which seem to consist of lots of laundry (at least for me!).
It was a fun weekend both away and at home, every race weekend is always sure to be very eventful and entertaining!