The Kees Glorie Memorial Handicap, the opening race of Albany Cycle Club’s 2023/2024 season was held on 16th December in ideal conditions. The race, named for club member, Kees Glorie, who was tragically killed while out riding, attracted a record field including three club debutants. Starting from Great Southern Grammar and heading out to Two Peoples Bay and Nanarup, it was fiercely contested with plenty of hopes for glory whipped away by the blustery Easterly, the hills and over enthusiastic expectations of the capabilities of one’s legs. The handicap format, which is a feature of most of the club’s races, evens the field between riders, giving all starters the chance to take the win. The equation on this course was roughly 26kmh average speed for the ‘Go’ group versus 39kmh for the scratch riders to get their name engraved on the trophy.
With a record turnout of 25 competitors, there were nine groups setting off at varied intervals, with the last pair giving up 38 minutes to the rest of the field. Dave Marshall led the peloton off in the ‘Go’ position and rode well, holding onto his lead until well into the race. In his words, after turning first at Nanarup with about 12km to go, ‘I dared to dream about the win.’ Unfortunately, there was a runaway ore train at terminal velocity behind him and he was swallowed up and unceremoniously spat out with about 5kms to go.
That runaway train of scratch riders, Brett Dal Pozzo and Vince Bascombe, had steadily hoovered up all the groups ahead of them. ‘Chopping block’ of Brent Schoof, Michael Gardiner and Camrin Maguire were in sight on the early hills last out to Two Peoples Bay and by the last of the hills had been left behind to chase forlornly, although that still equated to a very impressive 37+kmh average. The race debutants, Harry Rout, Doug Foulkes-Taylor, Frank Bate and regular Matt Bascombe were the next to hear the ominous whoosh and feel the despair at being swept up and promptly abandoned as Dal Pozzo and Bascombe made a point of accelerating hard past their rivals to prevent any passengers. The 32-minute group was also dust beneath the chariot wheels of the hard charging pair, although Colin Ashton Graham and the ageless Jimmy Watmore managed to latch onto the remains of the 34-minute group as they came past. These five riders finished together with an average speed of 35.7kmh having maintained a good rhythm over the latter part of the course.
After all riders had cleared the turn at Nanarup and were on the final stages, the final placings were starting to take shape. The winner was going to come from the unstoppable pair out the front. The battle for third was on with Andrew Lefort, Darian Le Page, Kea Mumford, Liz Cooper and Lucy Wellstead all in contention. About half a minute behind them Russel Hart and the man with the loudest knicks in the peloton, Alex Poulton, also an Albany Surf Club Patrol Leader, were catching glimpses of their target, but were not making a huge amount of headway with both groups on a screaming downhill, downwind run with the big spinnakers up.
Knowing that Dal Pozzo owned a big sprint, Vince Bascombe went early as the pair approached the finish line in the hope of catching Dal Pozzo unawares and giving himself a chance of the win. It nearly worked. In the end, the race was probably 30cm too long, and in that distance, Dal Pozzo had managed to get himself alongside Bascombe and on the line they were impossible to separate. Repeated viewings of the ultra-high speed camera technology employed on the day (aka an iPad) could not split them and they were declared joint winners and fastest overall with an average speed of 40.6kmh. Andrew Lefort got clear air on Le Page to take third place. Kea Mumford in fifth was the fastest female.
At the blunter end of the field, The Lanterne Rouge landed with the Boxers of the peloton, David Beckwith and Matt Bascombe. Dropped early from their respective groups and staying dropped, these Stakhanovites, more at home hauling the plough on the flats through headwinds, cobblestones and pestilence, triumphed at the back at of the field.
Post race, the Chief Commissaire, Keith Symes, had to take a close look several bike set-ups, including those of the joint winners Vince Bascombe and Brett Dal Pozzo. In Dal Pozzo’s case, an aero helmet was questioned but dismissed as being of negligible assistance. Bascombe had his shifter set-up examined in forensic detail and had a cease and desist notice issued. Dave Marshall had to fend off some terse questioning over his handlebar arrangements and he, too, was subject to some stern finger wagging from Symes.
Thanks to the volunteers who did the signage, sign on and timing. The next event is the Big Cheese gravel ride in Denmark on Australia Day. There is a hilly time trial on the 3RD February at Two Peoples Bay, another time trial at Eden Road on the Nullaki on the 17TH February, and handicap racing resumes on February 24TH with the tough but popular ‘Teardrop’ course in Denmark. Check the club’s Facebook page for race details.