War Stories

Coverage from the Central Otago Wakatipu Cycling Club Summer Series with a hint of spice. These descriptions are taken from some of the many A-Grade or Handicaped races through out the season. For a club born of a modestly populated region, it sure can turn in the entertainment and the hurt when the flag drops. Click on the link in ‘For More’ to all the club latest.     

4 October: Ripponvale Circuit

 I never said racing was easy, but damn it can be fun! Get some mates together, have yourselves a little Sunday morning Fight Club on wheels and laugh about it all afterwards.
Signing up for A-grade in Cromwell on a winteresque Sunday morning, Team Outside Sports represented strong and full of confidence. However after the opening shots were fired it was obvious that they had to contend with 2, 7ft never say die endurance gladiators. Toughened by some recent display of Multi-Sport power, the might of Dougal Allen and Gavin Mason kept the astute and courageous OS riders at bay. Wearing them down lap after lap until one final serge by Dougal swung the balance of power R&R’s way.
With only a few kilometers remaining Scott Rainsford found himself isolated and on red alert. Waiting for Gavin to tire from his effort on the front Scott kicked hard up the sheltered gutter holding the gas wide open through the final turn. With the finish line in sight Dougal launched his missiles and a titanic man-on-man, side by side sprint ensured. But it was the R&R jersey that emerged the deserved victor by just half a bike length, leaving the OS rider to settle for silver for the second time in 2 weeks, Gavin soon rolled across the line for Bronze, while Jim Hawkridge impressed in his season debut and confirmed his natural talent to take home the Chocolate medal.

November 15th: Hath’s Trophy, Cromwell

 Handicap racing! Who ever devised such a system was at once genius and masochistic. Genius; everybody across all abilities can race for the same finish line, yet if you’ve ever had the privilege of starting last (scratch) and given an “honest” handicap then you’ll understand the masochism involved. The racing actually begins 30 minutes before anyone gets on the road with much schmoozing and attempted bribes made with handicappers and fellow groups on the road. Through the sly banter inevitably there will only be one rider happy with their handicap at the finish, while everybody else cries “unleash the lions!”.
Today’s Cromwell-Ardgour-Tarras-Cromwell course played homage to one of our founding life member’s Paul Hathaway. Hath’s Trophy began with a gusting wind from the West – or was it South – or S/West? No one knew and when the nervous arguments had finished everyone settled for racing in very “windy” conditions. With the field spread across 35 minutes it would always be the group that keep it’s ‘team’ together best and saved some for the energy sapping run home. What ever the second group lacked in experience they certainly made up with enthusiasm and combined well through the ordeal to make best of their advantage and see them battle for top honors.
The sprint came out of small bunch of 4 that had started 10 minutes behind limit and was no surprise to the regular club members to see wily Daryl Spence hold the trophy high – note for the new racers Mr. Spence may feign lack of speed very well but once the finish line is in sight Dr.Darryl gets unleashed… Rounding out the podium Gary Steadman and Jerry Rowley showed they are a new force to watch and Alistair Murchland collected the chocolate medal.
Third group on the road also held off the chasers and had their own sprint for 5th only to learn the hard way that Sophie Williamson really should have been representing New Zealand at the Oceania’s in Southland (petty she’s too young). Leaving Peter Bartle, Ryan McKay, Tom Vessey and Bruce Thomson to follow her across the line left wondering how on earth?
It wasn’t a long wait for the officials to again be at the ready for the next chasing group. This time the arrival of the last starting, ‘scratchies’ and the prestigious fastest time of the day to be contested between Dougal Allen, Ian Mc/Donald and Scott Rainsford. After some confusion at the handicap delivered to them where they were by far the smallest group on the road (chasing 8!) our intrepid three put themselves in the hurt locker and didn’t come out for another 95 minutes. It was with much thanks to Dougal (future winner of the Coast to Coast – there I said it first) that the last ‘team’ caught anyone, and with help from Macka and Rainsford they slowly reeled in the enlarged break group by the Lindis bridge and immediately went on the attack.
The numbers dropped and the boys kept ticking over till the finish came to view. Macka was the first to surge off the front but a twitchy Dougal neutered the move and entered the last 500m confidently on the front. Staring his sprint early was all Rainsford – cunningly sitting 2nd wheel – needed and as he came around to take his second win of the season – the battle between the two is certainly looking to be one to watch for this season.

18 October: Mt. Aspiring Road, Wanaka

Grey threatening skies, wet slippery drizzle, a chilly southerly breeze and not an inch of flat road – you’d be forgiven for thinking this was the Ardennes in Belgium . However the world class alpine scenery that our club is spoilt to race amongst, spelt home court advantage for the Wanaka residents who turned up in healthy numbers to battle with the Wakatipu basin’s finest.

The hilly parcours and longest (80km) race of the season so far had a very select A-Grade field ride an unusually sedate opening 30km. A few warning shots were fired and neutralized till a brave solo move by Braydon Tall broke up the chase and the first selection was made leaving only recent strong man Dougal Allen, Grant ‘damnIwishIhadhisgenes’ Lyon and this years most consistent bridesmaid – Scott Rainsford.
The three chasers hung young Braydon on a short string to fry but eventually after 10km his courageous effort was brought back and it was four to fight out the final 20km run back to Wanaka. Nerves now running high every hill was an anticipated attack, yet with every move attended to it seemed destined to go down to the wire. Had Braydon tired his legs too much on is solo break? Did Dougal get tricked into doing too much work by Lyno who always seems to have the smarts of three? Would forever impatient Scott be able to wait for the right moment to steal victory from stronger opponents? 1 kilometer remained…
After Lyno had cleverly feigned a lead out on the front Dougal again found himself in the wrong position. His answer a ferocious surge to bring the quartet to 600m, it hadn’t worked and the group slowed just at the base of one last rise. Out of third wheel Scott launched his long range artillery that stunned the remaining into 3 second shock – it was all he needed to erase his near misses and crossed the line with audible relief after returning from testing injury. Wanaka’s god of thunder Dougal held on for second, wiley fox Lyno third and all the best for the National’s next week Braydon rolled in for the chocolate medal.
Special mention to Jim Hawkridge for riding a lonely race for fifth, yet still having the perseverance, strength and endurance to hold off the fast finishing B-Grade bunch.

March 28: Alexandra Points Race

After maximum slaughter of starting at the rear of many recent handicap races, a select A-Grade bunch turn up to have a bit of fun in the format of a points race under the Earnscleugh, Alexandra. At the end of every short kermises style lap the first three would be awarded 3, 2, 1 points and after 10 laps the rider with greatest accumulation hailed the day’s winner.

It would be a tactical race with a thousand ways to approach. The first lap saw some feelers put out there but no one was ready to surrender any weakness this early in the game. Lap one concluded with Steve Brough showing his intentions while a disturbing Rainsford holding back a fraction in order to assess how thing looked in second place.
The next time around Rainsford hoping to sew up the Placemakers season long series launched long and kept the accelerator on the floor. After taking maximum points he put his head down and didn’t look back. It wasn’t until he was well around the corner that the rest realized what was happening but it was too late he was on a mission and unless a serious concerted effort was made he would ride away with it lap after lap. A whole two solo laps later the catch was nearly on but the damage had been done. Rainsford now had a bulging account and well in control of the race sat up and waited for the junction. However it only came in the form of Brian Weedon soon followed by Tom Vessey and Blair Coupe. With the rest now 50 meters in arrears the only inspiration our yellow jersey holder needed and he went to the front to show his commitment to his new escapees that this would be a ride to the finish and with him they might not get the victory but at least they could ride it out for the minor lacings and not go home empty handed.
The following laps were formalities for Rainsford and with the gap to the chasing field beyond concern he turned his attention to keeping the breaks pace high and leading out the sprints for his faithful lieutenant’s to battle out. Weedo took control of things there and no matter what Coupe tried he couldn’t quite edge out the older master or maybe the two were just practicing their lead outs for next weeks Easter Tour of the Lakes?
Either way the finishing totals reflected a fine effort by the three, with much appreciated help from Tom who it should be noted is less than half the age of his riding companions hanging in there almost all the way to the finish. Rainsford’s cannibal like victory underlined his pride and enthusiasm for the season’s series and it was after the prize giving that he had many kind words for his summer long nemesis Darryl Spence who kept the series alive, honest and personal. Till next year Dr. Darryl…    

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