Top Track at the Coomealla Mountainless Mountain Bike Park, Dareton
The morning of the 26th day of June 2016 was far from the most pleasant. It actually heralded the coldest day in this part of the world since 1989. There was no sun to be had and the sluggish northerly challenged the heat retention techniques of every participant and spectator.
After the comparative carnage of Round 4 (which went unreported: your correspondent puts it down to the trauma of the experience), the Top Track was expected to be something of a straight forward blast due to its comparative lack of technical features. This turned out to be the case. Damo laid out a track that challenged the legs to deliver over long periods rather than the stop start of our usual tracks. Over forty riders showed up to take advantage.
The start at Kookaburra Drive provides a long downhill run over hard ground before weaving past the sewage treatment plant ponds and into the trees. The width and hard surface of the track resulted in a fast and well mixed charge from the punters…and created a couple of moments for some participants. A lapse in handling technique from Bobbie Pappin nearly saw our President dispatched off the pond bank and into a mystery landing in the saltbush some metres below. Only the combination of luck, panic and shouting saved a number of members from coming to grief.
One positive of the long fast start was a quick sorting of the trains of riders…the trail that followed then allowed those trains to largely hold together. There were quite a few close finishes…
Tyler and Sam Barnden (on a rare return, taking advantage of a university break) took off in a class of their own and matched each other throughout their six laps – their only hiccup was a near miss with the resident kangaroos out near Unhappy Valley on the first lap. The two of them led in A grade Mens with Tyler triumphing by 2/10ths of a second. Some minutes later, Rohan Hollis led home a fleet of riders to take third place but there was less than five seconds in it between Rohan, Damo, Nathan Floramo, Mark Furey and Jezza Pappin. Top race, Lads!
Equally impressive was the fast improving David Siladi who also finished only a few seconds behind the A grade fleet to take out B Grade Mens by more than 3 minutes over Andrew Greenfield. Mo Baldock was a further minute and a half back in third…perhaps he was held back as a result of a race long battle with Bobbie Pappin and Sean Dwyer?
In C grade Mens, Nigel recovered quickly from his dice with a Pappin-related demise to implement an impressive first lap charge that unfortunately ended too soon due to his chain having other ideas. Even so, he still managed to hold off Wes Marks for a first place with Peter Gifford following up for a third place.
Despite Bobbie’s widely known and well documented issues with first lap handling and bike cornering (not only tangling with Nigel early on but also mistiming another sharp right later on with Mo Baldock very close behind) she managed another dominant display in the A grade Women’s category. Sonja Mock and Jodie Bray took out second and third respectively. Meanwhile, in B grade Womens, Kerrie Copley triumphed over Hayley Baldock and Lauren Harriss.
The Juniors were out in force in this event and some of riders are continuing to demonstrate their future potential. Laclan Op de Coul took out the A grade Combined Juniors by a three minute margin over Flynn Williams in second place. Bailey Copley rounded out the division in third. In B grade Juniors, Zac and Josh Furey demonstrated a certain amount of family rivalry by finishing their two laps just four seconds apart in that order with Logan Baldock matching his Dad with a third place. In C grade Juniors, the Baldocks were at it again with podium finishes but, in another close finish, Mikaela Lees finished three seconds in front of Georgia Baldock followed up by Declan Baldock (who then demonstrated his keenness to improve by doing another lap!!). All in all an impressive display from our Junior fleet.
On to our next race which is at Merbein on Sunday 17th July…so it is bound to rain again. In the meantime, the Broken Hill mob are doing a special weekend on the 9th and 10th July where they are throwing together four events across their trail network including a sprint UP Fulmen Hill…if this sounds like fun to you then get up there and represent!
In other news, there will be Trail Fairies at work on the Short Track in the coming weeks to repair and maintain trail features. As a result, expect some minor tweaks and changes to some features (notably When the Levee Broke) so please ride accordingly on your first lap to familiarise yourself. Recent activity has seen repairs to Lenny’s Logs and the third jump on the entry to the Play Pen has finally been converted to the table top that was originally intended. Check them out and ride safe.
Race Report for Round 3 of the 2016 Aggregate Series, Sunday 15th May 2016
Round Three of the 2016 Aggregate Series found us on the ragtag single track of Merbein and the running of the first of two events this year on this tight, twisty and faintly frustrating circuit.
Perhaps the most frustrating thing about the Merbein events to date is their recent talent for attracting rain. This event proved to be little different but in this case the Rain Gods were kind and they saw fit to deliver their tears early enough for the track to mostly dry out. The added benefit was that this helped firm the sandier and dustier surfaces…otherwise we’d have all choked on the dust whilst going OTB.
One of the benefits of the Merbein events is that they often bring in new riders because the track is closer to Mildura and more accessible midweek for a recreational or training ride. This event was no different with a small fleet of new people across all age groups plus a trio of fit looking nutters on cyclocross bikes. So the start was crowded and diverse…and very well dressed.
After the foibles of the timing system were conquered, the pack was hooted away and they blasted over the start line with a most impressive sound. And it was on…
Stories were told afterwards of numerous first lap incidents and moments of grandeur but the story of the race was written early with most riders spreading out quite quickly within their grades. The Merbein track tends not to take prisoners so mistakes (and varying fitness levels) were punished with time gaps that were difficult to make up.
In A grade Men, Tyler Beruldsen did the usual thing by blasting away and Tim Klein again couldn’t reel him in. Damo made the most of his comeback event by chasing down third. However, it was far from close racing. Merbein just doesn’t seem to allow it.
The A grade Women crew was near full strength but again the finishing gaps were large. Bobbie Pappin finished well in front whilst (as usual) taunting the pointy end of B Grade Men with Genelle Balwin and Sarah Mott filling out the podium.
B Grade Men continues the annual tradition of identifying imminent A graders with David Siladi demonstrating that when potential is combined with training, success is inevitable. Mo Baldock has also been working out and despite being unable to get away from Bobbie in this event…at least has more than one reason to keep trying to go faster!! Third was taken out by our special guest paramedic who, despite not racing for seemingly forever; claiming to be ‘unfit’ AND crashing to near last place on the first lap, managed to coax his flash new bike to quite impressive lap times.
B Grade Women was a sparser affair with Lauren Harriss taking the points over Nadine Sadler.
A grade Junior is also a division with a quiet pack. Flynn Williams (who has shifted up to A grade) was on his own for this race but the still ungraded Zane Cocks also fronted up again to put up a very respectable challenge – time to sign up Zane!!.
As always, B Grade Juniors was well stocked for their three laps. It also proved to probably be the tightest grade on the day with less than three minute separating the lot of them. Zac Furey led the mob home with Jake Harriss chasing close behind followed by Josh Furey.
The bonus CX crew should be well content with their showing. Despite being familiar with the Merbein tracks they were not quite at home on this layout. Even so, clearly none of them are slouches in the saddle since they managed to finish up with lap times that put them up with the A grade men riders! Ben Chatfield dominated the trio (even doing an extra lap!) with Richard Hale and Ashley Dawson finishing a few minutes further back after their six laps
The next event is back out at Coomealla on June 5th with the Short Track being the target loop. There have been a few changes on this track since it was last raced. A few new features have appeared and there has been the odd line change too so it’ll be worth your while to have a look before the day.
On perhaps the first cool morning of 2016, a motley crew of riders ranging from cute and cuddly to tall and angular (plus a couple of ring-ins from Adelaide) assembled on the banks of the Murray to participate in the nearest thing to a race that the Mountainless Bike Club can manage at this time of year.
The track (the original 6 km) had been tested midweek and found to be interesting in a dusty/sandy kind of way. The Rain God Huey has not been kind to us and the track reflected it – let’s call it ‘bulldust over hard pack’. (more…)