Forty Seven cyclists made their way to the Cloverlea circuit to compete in the inaugural Tim McArdle Memorial Handicap in perfect conditions. All entry money was donated to the foundation established in Tim’s honour and the event was well supported. A huge trophy provided inspiration for many riders and some extra resolve was evident in the eyes of many as they warmed up for the race.
First away was the bunch of D-Grade with eleven cyclists turning the pedals. Bill Frew was looking fresh early and new rider Kim Spunner was aiming to ease his way back into the saddle after an extended period off the bike.
Dave Axford having done a triathlon earlier that morning was not feeling particularly strong as Tim Mulligan, James Brown, Alan Hauxwell, Greg Williams, Daniel de Blauw, Sam and Rod Atkinson all drove hard to complete the first in 19.05.
C-Grade having slipped the handicapper a nice bottle of red earlier in the week was pegged back only 1.30 from their most recent winning time. In the still conditions they would be very hard to beat.
Seconds after starting Rob Monk decided to take the initiative and set the pace early. Reports of 40 to 45km/hr were reported from the back of the bunch as he blew the doors off Steve Evans, and Lloyd Harrington. Monique being the great sister that she is waited for her brother Luke who had missed the start. It seemed a good idea at the time, but as the bunch disappeared into the distance her race and her brother’s was over.
The first lap must have felt fast for those in the C-Grade bunch because the pace was greatly exaggerated during post-race discussions (it got down to 16 minutes). The reality was a not too shabby 17 minutes and 48 seconds for the first lap and 4 riders off the back.
In lap two the C-Graders were able to drop Simon Baxter along the return rises and clock subsequent lap times of 18.24 and 18.23.
Thomas Sandner on his new(ly painted) stealth Trek invited everyone in B-Grade to sit his wheel for a fast start. The award for the quickest DNF went to Justen O’Connor who punctured 400 meters from the start.
A fast 16.54 for the first lap was followed with a 17.28 in the second and another puncture, not surprisingly to Steve Twining. Thomas, James, Ross, Steve Sandner, Chris, Peter and Paul noticed the increased workload as they tried to hold off A-Grade as they scorched along in hot pursuit.
Steve Twining could only stand solemnly on the side of the road contemplating his fourth race in a row without finishing. The club have since extended Steve a discount on race entry fees.
By the third lap many in the bunch were hurting and the group dropped another 20 seconds from their previous lap time.
A-Grade meanwhile was on the charge, posting 15.49 in a scintillating first lap. Murray, despite just having got engaged the night before, still managed to do his turns as the usual suspects were driving at around 43km/hr. John McKenzie punctured in the second lap and could do nothing more than enjoy the scenery. A time of 16.34 in the third lap was fast, but not fast enough to make up the five and a half minutes that C-Grade still had up its sleeve.
Loretta Mackay, David deBruyne and Sian Williams were riding 3 of the 4 laps and showed some considerable improvement over their last race times.
By the end of the third lap, D-Grade had been swallowed up by C-Grade and eight cyclists had pulled out for mechanical and physiological reasons.
The final lap saw B-Grade and A-Grade merge into one group to ride out the race. The action however was with C-Grade. The Doc (Steve Hall) who had been bursting his lungs on the eastern hills worked his way into good position as they turned for the home straight.
Rob Monk was not so strategic and found himself at the front of the finishing bunch with a few hundred meters still to go. Allan Beveridge pulled off Rob’s wheel to stake a claim for first but the many fast twitch fibres of Steve Hall sprang to life and he took out first place.
Glen Fisher finished third behind Allan with Vic, Greg Williams (D-Grade), Terry Kelly, Rob, Daniel (D-Grade), Trevor, Dean and Allan Hauxwell rounding out the first bunch in a total time of 1.17.34.
Bill and Rod crossed a few minutes later and followed by Shane Stiles who led home the A/B-Grade bunches. Thomo, Keith and the rest followed for a time of 1.21.19.
And so Tim’s friend and colleague, Dr Steve Hall, was a fitting winner of the Trophy named in his memory on a day where everyone, who like Tim, enjoyed their cycling.
Next weeks race is a crit to be held at the Burke St circuit.
In a time of 1:17:34
- Steve Hall
- Allan Beveridge
- Glenn Fisher
- Vic Spunner
- Greg Williams
- Terry Kelly
- Rob Monk