Cyclists challenged by wild weather

TOUGH DAY: Runner-up Nikki Bear and winner Sarah Dally warm up after a tough Mount Gambier Cycling Club race on Sunday.

FORECAST poor weather may have precluded some competitors from gathering for the fifth race in the Mount Gambier Cycling Club’s Kidman Law Co. spring/summer series, but a healthy field of 23 riders still greeted the Commissaire for the 30km handicap event, including some visitors to the region.

Racing began with the Under 11/13 race, held over 10km.

Eddie Buckland was given a three-minute head start over Molly Opperman.

Buckland was able to maintain some distance between them for the entirety of the ride, finishing in 23:33 minutes for the win.

Opperman was able to make up 2:31 over the distance, taking out the award for fastest time with an average of 28.5km/h.

For the senior race, Elmer Buckland and father Jason Buckland headed off nine minutes ahead of the next group.

Dave Delaland, Jen Buckland, Sarah Dally and Nicki Bear began the chase, ahead of Paul Brooker, Riley Hill, Pat Langsmith, Harry Opperman and Rob Mann, a further seven minutes behind.

Just one minute later a large group containing Spek Peake, Bruce McLaughlin, Jami Buckley, Dean Zeven, John Cranwell, Phil Stasiw, Colin Weatherill and Nathan Thomas headed off, but an early mechanical issue forced McLaughlin back to the finish line early.

The final group left four minutes later, 21 minutes from the head of the race, consisting of Nick Kidman, Ash Herrewyn, Dave Bryant and Matthew Opperman.

They were quickly into the task of chasing down the riders ahead of them but a missed opportunity saw Matthew Opperman drop off the back early.

The early competitors enjoyed slightly drier weather for the outward leg of the race, with the wind pushing the riders down toward the turnaround just before the border.

Dally and Bear quickly showed their class, riding away from their group and arriving at the turnaround just behind the opening group.

The remaining groups worked well together, holding their relative positions in the tailwind leg.

As the riders turned back towards the finish line the weather caught up with them, as the rain added to the headwind and puddles on the road made the return difficult.

The stronger scratch riders began to rise to the occasion, cutting their way through the field, picking off the bunches.

As a result the groups began to splinter as each of the riders found their limits.

For the dedicated spectators waiting at the finish line, the sight of two lone riders making their way down the hill heralded the closing stages of the race.

Dally and Bear had powered their way through the wind and rain, holding off the chasing riders.

Dally (1:03.55 elapsed time) claimed the win in a sprint to the line ahead of Bear.

Just 15 seconds later Kidman arrived to claim the fastest time honours (43:10 race time – 41.7km/h average), just ahead of Bryant, Herrewyn and Mann.

The club now focuses on this weekend’s race, another 30km handicap to be be held outside Tantanoola, racing among the wind farms.

With support from the City of Mount Gambier, the Mount Gambier Cycling Club has secured the services of Tim Decker, Australian national cycling coach, for a weekend of training over October 29-31.

Anyone interested in participating can contact the club for further information.

The public is also reminded of the upcoming Crank the Crater hill climb event at the Valley Lakes, to be held on December 5.

Anyone with a bicycle is welcome to compete in the time trial event.