THE inaugural Crank the Crater cycling hill climb event has been hailed a success, after 17 riders tackled the Valley Lakes course on Sunday.
Mount Gambier Cycling Club (MGCC) rider Nick Kidman set the fastest time, with a blistering four-minutes, 28 seconds from the bottom of the Valley Lakes to the Tower car park.
Kidman has been in good form during club races and was able to show his real strength up the hill.
Colin Weatherill was next best with a time of 4:56, while the fastest female honours went to Tess Wight with 5:04.
Wight finished equal third overall, along with 14-year-old Niel van Niekerk.
The honours for the oldest rider went to Chris O’Donnell, who managed sixth overall with a time of 5:10, which was an impressive effort for the 75 year old.
The fastest mountain bike up the hill was ridden by Matt Gazzard, who entered with his son Noah to give the event a go.
His time of 6:36 was certainly not too far behind the regular club riders, considering they all used road bikes.
MGCC president Dean Zeven said he was pleased with the outcome of the first event, which was aimed at club riders and the wider community.
“Overall the day was great,” he said.
“The council was fantastic closing the road for us.
“There were plenty of volunteers to help register the riders and it was all very positive.
“I think everyone had a lot of fun.”
The event saw support along the course, with clapping and cheering as each rider passed, while at the finish line the riders waited for each competitor to arrive, with a positive atmosphere resulting.
“We gave certificates to everyone when they finished,” Zeven said.
“Everybody loved it and cannot wait to do it again next year.”
As for the faster times, Zeven said it probably panned out as expected.
“Nick Kidman is our top club rider and wins pretty consistently in our club races,” he said.
“It was no surprise he won.
“Colin Weatherill loves the hill and practices up there regularly.
“He does a lot of kilometres but does not get to a lot of races because of his work.
“Tess Wight has represented us throughout South Australia and Australia and is an up-and-coming rider, while Niel van Niekerk is probably going to make his mark soon.
“He is poised to get into the state teams and hopefully the Australian teams in the not-too-distant future.”
But the event was about rider against the hill, which Zeven said proved the real challenge.
“For Chris O’Donnell it was an amazing effort,” he said.
“If anybody could do that at 75 years of age they would be more than happy.
“Anna Barnes said she beat her personal best by a minute on the day so she was really happy with that.”
Zeven said even the community riders enjoyed the challenge on their mountain bikes.
“Matt and Noah Gazzard came along and stayed around to watch the other riders come up the hill,” he said.
“They loved it and said they would definitely do it again next year.
“My wife did not enter, but rode up the hill when it was finished.
“She said she should have entered because she enjoyed riding up there and made it easily.”
Zeven said the bonus for the event was no blowout times.
Despite age and bicycle differences, there were no real slow runs up the hill.
“That was a bit of a surprise,” Zeven said.
“It is two kilometres and everybody had to do the same bit of hill, so it was good to see a close range of times.
“We sent everyone at two-minute intervals and nobody caught the rider in front, which meant nobody was demoralised.”
Zeven said despite the challenge of the hill, the support from those along the route created and enjoyable experience.
“Although it is hard going up the hill, when there are people cheering you on and you are getting the best out of yourself, it brings a euphoria and the riders really loved it,” Zeven said.
“It was still really casual, but everybody put in the effort when it was their turn.
“The club riders loved it and wished they had done something like this before.
“They would love to do more down the Valley Lakes with the roads closed.
“That means you can use the whole road and do not have to worry about being hit from behind, which makes it a lot more relaxed.”
Zeven said the club hopes to make the event an annual challenge, with good support from the inaugural race suggesting the interest would be there.