Redmond Gravel Handicap – 8 July 2023

Pristine gravel roads that resembled Swiss tarmac and even with winter now having rolled up its sleeves and got on with the job, there were only a few small patches that resembled the formative stages of Swiss cheese – such were the glorious conditions for the Albany Cycle Club’s inaugural Redmond GRAVEL Handicap. So good in fact were the roads, that competitors who opted for road bikes as opposed to gravel or mountain bikes were at no disadvantage.
The 41-kilometre course, featuring Hunwick Road, Norton Road and Redmond Road West was nearly 90% gravel and lumpy enough to put some hurt into the legs of the 20 racers who contested the event. The alternative event formats such as this gravel race and the fondo style gravel courses continue to prove very popular. A highlight of this event was the number of new and returning riders who came and tried their hand. As a handicap race, riders are grouped according to ability with the aim of having all riders arrive at the finish at approximately the same time.
With the field split into seven groups ranging in size from four through to one, riders were sent on their way from the start line at roughly the mid-point of Hunwick Road. The ‘go’ group of Shirley Thurston, Brett Turbill, Lucy Wellstead and Jill Bascombe had a six minute start on the next group Paul Terry, Phil Stan-Bishop and newcomer Alex Poulton, who confessed to ‘riding a bit.’ This turned out to be a ‘bit’ of an understatement. Right from the start, these two groups set a pace that was going to be hard for the following riders to overcome.
At ten minutes, another newcomer, Zachary Van, led his group of four away from the line and rapidly reduced it to two, only Paul Gibson able to hold his wheel. On fourteen minutes, Brendan Holmes benefitted from the tactical decision to go with a road bike and rode away from his partner and scooped up most other riders on his way around the course, expertly guiding the skinny tyres around the few potholes.
On paper, the eighteen minute group of Brent Schoof, Mike Staude, Greg Newton and returning member, Josh Dallimore looked very likely to produce the winner. Working cohesively, they got around the course at just a shade under 32kmh, with Newton showing off his fast legs to lead them home, but they weren’t fast enough to take the win with the top three already sipping on a cup of tea.
The last two groups to go were Camrin Maguire teaming up with Vince Bascombe, and finally, Brett Dal Pozzo was the last to leave the starting gate. For Maguire, the distance was probably at least a hundred kilometres too short, and he had barely warmed up before it was all over. Bascombe and Dal Pozzo zipped around the course in 35kmh and 36kmh respectively, but even they weren’t quick enough to erase the deficit to the winners.
Brett Turbill took his first win by half a wheel from Shirley Thurston in a ferocious sprint to the line. Third, was Alex Poulton in his first race for the club.
Thank you to the volunteers for the signage, manning the start/finish line and marshalling the corners.
And thank you to our major supporter TerryWhite Chemmart Chester Pass Albany