With the forcast for morning rain the PACC CX Crew thought the conditions might be less dusty and loose than the previous event, but with perfect blue skies the course set-up team discovered everything from the sand, the grass and the gravel were as dry and powdery as one could hope for. Hmmm, tricky! Pre-Entry numbers were down on previous rounds (seems we clashed with just about every school event in the city) but a good late-entry field (including some sandbaggers in B-Grade) walked up and signed on.
With two Little Crossers AWOL on course they missed their race start, so Open (Non-CX bikes) lined up at the start near their allocated time. From the start Dean Gibson and Shaun Lewis made a cracking pace getting a small gap on the rest of the field with Nigel Willoughby not too far back then Stephen Manson, Tom Bamman and Colin Maher leading the best of the rest. Gibson lead across the line after the shorter first lap but then Lewis took over grabbing a few extra seconds each lap, and ended up winning comfortably over Gibson with Willoughby in third. USA-import Colin Maher, who was responsible for ‘Colin’s Chicane’ on the grass straight section took advantage of ‘less pedalling, more cornering’ to finish a much-improved 4th. The womens field included yet another USA-transplant and experienced CX racer Jessica Singerman who was never headed, with a clear gap over first timer Vicki ‘Zippi’ Birks and Lee-Anne ‘Wanahuckalugie’ Fleming who bumped Tessa ‘Machine’ Manning off her usual podium spot.
The children were rounded up for their start and brothers Levi and Oliver were off for their full lap tour de course. They were quite excited to be the only two kids racing tonight and finished their lap with generous applause, the older Oliver (6yo) just ahead of younger Levi (4yo) looking mean with face paint. The kids had floated their way through all the sand and it was only the finishing gravel that slowed Levi down.
The Womens/B-Grade Mens CX grade marked the return to racing by former Canadian CX professional Tara Ross, you know, the one that husband Neil ”Supercoach’ Ross had told everyone about. It also marked Neil’s return to CX as a spectator, showing of his skills on crutches as he grabbed a good vantage point to watch the action. Tara wasn’t allowed a quiet warm up – as she practiced her sideways drift through the gravel and barriers pre-race the friendly heckling begain with cries of ‘show off!’ as she pranced smoothy over the barriers and back on her bike. Neil’s overheard comment to Bluey (the dog) was “She’s still got it”. (Bluey’s reply: “woo woo woo”). The women were staged ahead of the men on the start line (except those who had forgotten to enter on time: The Rack at the back!) and the race was on. Gemma ‘G-Train’ Kernich lead out the women with Carly ‘Barky’ Light and Ross right behind with all three together at the end of the first lap with the injured Samara ‘The Rack’ having to pick through some of the field losing about 20secs in the first lap alone. While G-train had a remount fail on the sand and Barky was also slow to get back up to speed, Ross blew past both women on the barrier section like there weren’t any barriers and she took the lead. G-Train repassed on the slow grass section and got a small gap while Barky caught Tara and sat on. Tara had a bad third lap (trying to keep her lungs inside) allowing Carly to get a gap, and the race finished with the women in that order with close racing again throughout the women field (less than a second separating 5th Kellie Hards and 6th Bec Farmer).
The B-grade men had a handful of blokes who were slated to go up to A-grade but escaped the handicapper, including late entry Matt West who made his move past early leaders Jonathan Rehrmann, John Brennand and Jeremy ‘Casper’ Smith on the second lap and was never headed, out of sight and out of mind for Casper who thought he had sprinted for the win past Rehrmann but was actually second by a reasonable margin. Iain Jones had binned it on the first lap on the grassy downhill turn near the creek, destroying his righthand shifter but still lapped in reasonable times. The top 5 men in B-Grade are all promoted to A-grade for the next race.
The A-grade Men’s CX was a quality field of 20 riders with the inclusion of former Belgian professional Aron Huysmans joining the usual suspects. Tim Decker’s race started off badly as the riders were staged: the only bike equipped with electronic shifting in the field had unplugged itself and he was stuck with one cog on the rear from the get-go. James ‘Shorty’ Hanus lead the field out early with an elite group of Huysmans, Jade ‘El Leanio’ Lean, John ‘Crasher’ Smith (will have to stop calling him that soon, he is staying upright these days), Mark ‘Muddy’ Chadwick and Ryan Johnson forming a tight group with Evan James, Jarrod Beare and an improved Kym Howard not far behind. The front group stayed together until lap #7 when disaster struck Chadwick, burping his 30psi tubeless setup and losing chunks of time over two laps to fade back to 10th. Huysmans looked the goods leading across the line for the last three laps with Smith in tow, but it was Lean who was able to maintain the high pace in the last lap, 10secs faster than anyone else to punch past them all for a definitive victory over Huysmans and Smith who sprinting for second place with Hanus in 4th and Johnson 5th.
Thanks again to everyone that can make this race possible, Dale Bennett in his first gig as Cheif Commissaire, Paula Hollamby, Aimee Alsbury, Catherine Braithwaite and Renee Hennessy for race timing, placing and lap scoring, Maria for sign-on, Bec for towing the race trailer, Dennis for first aid (and he wasn’t kept busy this time) , the peeps from Trott Park Fencing club for the BBQ, Rachel from Cafe2U for the brews, Tracey and the rest of the set-up crew including the fellas from Bike Station and Focus Bikes! And anyone else we forgot :-)
If you have got photos/videos to share on an album somewhere because there were cameras going off all ’round the course, email us through a link to your album to [email protected] so they can be added.