RIDING HIGH: Garry Reardon leads ‘mystery winner’ Nigel Blake across the line in Grafton Cycle Club’s recent secret handicap event. PHOTO: GLEN MCPHILLIPS
RIDING HIGH: Garry Reardon leads ‘mystery winner’ Nigel Blake across the line in Grafton Cycle Club’s recent secret handicap event. PHOTO: GLEN MCPHILLIPS

O’Connor sticks with bunch in 100km cycle challenge

A BRIGADE of Grafton cyclists made the journey down the Pacific Highway on Sunday to participate in the Coffs Cycle Challenge.

The 100km event saw riders leaving Coffs, via Sawtell to Bellingen and back. The pace was hot to start with averages of 38kph.

The lead pack of about 30 riders included locals Dion Wilkes, Paul O'Connor, Vlad Goosenvik, Danny Zietsch and Matt McLennan as well as Coffs Harbour big guns Dan Alcock and his Split Espresso Racing Team.

Heading into Mylestom the lead group broke in two and Zietsch and McLennan didn't make it across.

The pace intensified into Bellingen with the approach of the hills and an attack on a sharp roundabout turn caused the group to splinter. Wilkes and O'Connor stayed with them, but Gooensvik drifted back. By the second climb Wilkes had suffered multiple punctures and Goosenvik lost valuable time on a chain drop. O'Connor was still in the hunt and the last hope of Grafton.

Another attack split the front again and stayed away with Beau Harper the winner in 2 hours 26 minutes. O'Connor was four minutes behind in 12th overall and 2nd in his age class.

It wasn't until afterwards we learnt clubmate Dion Poy broke his arm and was hospitalised in a bad accident on a roundabout. Unfortunately that's the sport of cycling. Speedy recovery Little D.

On the local scene, on-road racing hit the streets of Coutts Crossing on Saturday. Only limited numbers were present with eyes on the big event the following day. After some encouragement Ralphy Stevens was talked into racing for a grand total of eight riders.

Officials came up with the idea of a two-man team handicap with the finish time going off the slower of the two. Genius or bad idea? Time would soon tell.

Off go was EJ Treloar and Greg Allen, two minutes back Vlad Goosenvik and Greg Robertson, next back by a minute Nigel Blake and Gary Reardon and bringing up the rear Jye Reardon and "You Can Do It" Stevens.

The first of three laps was fast and on the back straight Reardon/Stevens caught Reardon/Blake, merged and became a 'Super Team'.

Goosenvik/Robertson were unaware of the thunder from behind. But the four became six as the group turned onto Kangaroo Ck Rd for the second time and soon EJ was caught and passed. It seemed his partner had thought about solo glory and abandoned him.

Reardon ramped up a gear by the third and final Kangaroo Ck Rd effort, which saw Team Goose/Robbo drop off. Solo man Allen was finally caught on the back climb, leaving the battle down to Jye and Ralph or Gary and Nigel.

Jye and Ralph tried to blast clear. But the cagey veterans had other ideas and were able to split Jye and Ralph by wedging themselves in between. Although Jye was first across the line, Gary and Nigel both beat Ralph across to take top step on the podium. Goosenvik and Robertson were third, although Allen had held them out in a true 'Most Aggressive' ride of the day.

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