Limit Group Race Report by Lou Palermo –
The limit group in Division 1 lined up with a 10 minute plus wait for their start. The group exchanged views on the current state of racing in their respective clubs and the usual talk of gear ratios, wheels and tyre pressures selected for such a testing course. The mood amongst the riders was pleasant and not the usual nervous feeling before a race. With several minutes to go, Phil Jones (ICC President) provided the limit group with the usual warnings of pot holes out on the course (most had been filled prior to the race) and a heads up on the change of the finish line location due to some of the larger holes near the normal finish for the Illawarra Interclub/Ken Dinnerville Memorial races.
Once the group received the “Go” orders from Commissaire Garry Doughty, we had a smooth roll out and the group immediately commenced swapping off turns in an efficient manner, given the South-Westerly wind direction. On approach to the first ascent of the steep side of Marshall Mount, several riders called for a steady pace, so not to lose any of the group riders. Jordan McCawley (Macarthur CC) encountered some gearing issues up the steep climb and moved to the right of the road to adjust/select the appropriating gearing and was able to maintain his position in the group.
The first turnaround on Avondale Road gave the limit group an opportunity to gauge how we were travelling in relation to the groups behind. The signs were promising as the 9 minute group did not pass us until the old weigh bridge on Avondale Road. As the other groups passed in the other direction, it was evident the 4 minute and 2 minute (block) groups were rotating smoothly and moving at a fast pace. Of note, Peter Krellis (ICC) and Richard Vollebregt (SHCC) were driving (as usual) on the front of their group. The long list of talented riders in the groups behind and the obvious speed difference was a worrying thought considering another lap and half was ahead the limit group.
Heading south along Marshall Mount into the wind meant several riders took breaks on the back to recover but Merrick Law (ICC), Jason Hogan (ICC), Jordan McCawley (MCC) and Andrew McCulloch (SHCC) were the strong men of the group and maintained their turns on the front. As we descended the steep side of Marshall Mount, gaps appeared in the group and several riders, including myself had to drive hard to regroup with the lead riders before turning onto Calderwood Road for completion of the first lap. One special note was that the entire group united in calling/pointing out holes during the race and especially when heading in both directions of Calderwood Road, which was a welcomed relief.
On the second ascent of the steep side of Marshall Mount, Jordan McCawley (MCC) set the pace with Jason Hogan (ICC) covering the move, and the rest lead by Merrick Law (ICC) regrouped at the top, with Andrew McCulloch (SHCC) and Merrick moving to the front to continue the pace setting. Half way along Avondale Road, the motorbike behind the group moved ahead of us and the immediate thought was the groups behind were about to catch the limit group. At this point, I looked back and noticed Andy Smith (ICC) had been tailed off and his bad run of luck in the interclub series continued with a broken (Shitmano) shift lever and he was unable to select gears (confirmed by Andy after the race).
Once the limit group had turned for the run back to the finish, it was clear that we still had a sizeable lead and the work rate in the group lifted once again. Every rider shared the workload and tiredness turned to eagerness as several riders encouraged the group to continue with the work rate. The Block group had collected several groups starting ahead of them, with caught riders hanging on the back and the Scratch group appeared dejected, as the gap between the groups had widened.
The pace in the limit group dropped prior to the final ascent of Marshall Mount due to tired legs and riders watching each other for the possible attack for a breakaway over the hill. The attack did not eventuate and the group rolled to the final turn intact, still under the watchful eye of the ICC and SHCC riders in the group, for the possible late attack. As the group entered the final turn onto Calderwood Road, I decided ICC had the numbers and given Merrick’s and Jason’s current form at club level, I would be the sacrificial lamb and lifted the pace for a final drive for the line. As the finish line came into sight, Merrick kicked with his expected #wattagebazzoka and Jason jumped but missed the wheel. Andrew McCulloch (SHCC) kicked for third and I was able to hold on for fourth with Allen Gould (SHCC) fifth and Jordan McCawley (MCC) sixth.
For the second race of the 2017 Interclub series, the limit group in Division 1 were able to maintain the work rate and stay away for the victory. All the limit riders congratulated each other as we rolled to the carpark. The overwhelming sense of achievement in holding off all the groups starting behind us was finally realised. It was satisfying to represent ICC at our home event and make the podium to improve Illawarra’s standing in the Interclub series point score. Big congratulations to the fastest time riders also (given the age of the riders on the podium).
Thanks to all who participated in both race divisions and a massive thanks to all the volunteers for making the Illawarra Interclub race an enjoyable day’s racing.