AFTER some uncertainty around the possibility of racing this weekend, the lifting of restrictions on Friday morning meant the Mount Gambier Cycling Club event through the Tantanoola-Lake Bonney wind farms could go ahead.
Eighteen starters nominated for the senior handicap race, held over a 34km out-and-back course along the Canunda Frontage Road.
Of particular note was the slight rise at the 7km mark, which would favour the lighter riders.
The presence of a wind farm suggested there would be some wind for the ride at some stage.
As it was, the riders faced the main head wind as they left the start point, changing to a slight tail wind for the leg along the wind farm roads.
After the turnaround point, the reverse occurred and the riders enjoyed a nice 7km wind-assisted push to the finish line.
Molly Opperman was the only Junior rider who nominated for ride and was driven out to the start of the Frontage Road in order to time trial the 7kms back to the finish line.
She rode strongly with the wind behind her, flying back to the finish line, wishing she had more gears available.
First riders to leave were the trio of Bucklands – Jen, Jason and Elmer.
They were given a generous 18-minute handicap over the next group, consisting of Mike Bakker, Bruce McLaughlin and Harry Opperman.
The third group, containing Malcolm Tirabassi – in a welcome return to racing – Spek Peake, Dean Zeven and John Cranwell left just one minute later.
There was a further three-minute gap until Matthew Opperman, Patrick Langsmith, Jami Buckley and Riley Hill joined the race and four minutes later the scratch group of Nick Kidman, Ash Herrewyn, Dave Bryant, and visiting rider Mike Walsh headed off.
This left the back markers a gap of 26 minutes riding time to catch the front riders.
The first part of the race was into a headwind and each of the groups worked hard to maintain momentum and cohesion until the base of the climb.
It was in the climb the first cracks began to show and groups began to splinter.
Out in front, Elmer Buckland was able to ride away with a higher power-to-weight ratio and made it to the turnaround with a gap over the rest of the field in spite of the efforts of his parents to close the margin with a slight tailwind.
Further back in the field, the make up of some of the groups had changed as riders battled the wind and hills.
Herrewyn, Kidman and Bryant warmed to the challenge of scything through the field and had already made up the four-minute gap to the next group before 15km had passed, with other riders scrambling to hold on to their wake.
After the turnaround, the front riders were able to gauge how much time the rest of the field had been able to catch up and the possible time frame of their capture.
The slight cross-tailwind along the Lake Bonney frontage made its presence felt as a head wind for the return leg up to the hill.
Once over the hill, a nice firm tailwind had the riders enjoying a quick pace back towards the finish line.
Once again enjoying that high power-to-weight ratio, Elmer Buckland was able to extend his advantage over the other racers as he rode over the hill and use the tailwind to full effect, finishing first in a time of 1:09:40.
There was a large time gap before Jen Buckland finished in second place, followed by Jason Buckland in third.
As the next racers neared the finish line, it became apparent that the Scratch riders had once again almost passed the entire field.
Flying downwind for the final 7km, they would have wished for a couple of extra cogs in their big chain ring in order to catch the Bucklands in front.
However, it was Bryant who led Kidman over the finish line to take fastest time honours (51:06 race time), less than eight minutes behind Elmer Buckland.
The next race for the Kidman Law Co, Spring/Summer series will see a return to the familiar Caves Road course, for a shorter 20km handicap race.
Early forecasts suggest it will be a perfect day for racing with a light headwind finale.