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Merbein Cemetery circuit, July 17, 2004

Schmidt scores while Japp does a kamikaze

By Peter Winton

Errol "Flynn" Schmidt used his confident bike handling skills and risk taking to the best advantage on the tough Merbein cemetery circuit to gap his fellow scratchmen and take the win in Saturday’s 8 lap (64km) handicap road race.

In difficult windy conditions and energy sapping cold temperatures (for Sunraysia) 24 clubbies put on every conceivable piece of cycling apparel (and then wished they had more!) to try and get warm, let alone stay warm. The conditions suited Schmidt, with his powerful riding style and fast cornering skills (at least one downhill left hander at 64kms/hr), he was able to put pressure on his fellow backmarkers, McNally, Floramo, Busch, Brade and Mulhearn, during each lap to chip away at their resolve and nerve, finally pinching a break on the last downhill section to gap the others and outride Rob McNally and record his first Club win this year.

Once again the strong winds contributed to significant rider disengagement from the race. In particular, those from the perennial ill-fated "chopping block" group, Peter Mills, Peter Doody, Ian Beruldsen, Arthur Anderson, Michael Shipsides and Rob Akkermans. This group of "better than your average cyclist" disintegrated early in the piece. Unbeknowns to this, the third group of Jack Lokan, Harry Robbins, Peter Winton, Jeff Mitchell, Greg Scott, Kevin Gregory and "prodigal son" Richard Hale desperately tried to maintain a steady pace. Eventually however, the "steadiness" gave to way "wobbliness".

After gathering up the fall-out from the limit riders, firstly Tom Athorn and Robyn Doyle, who were not able to hang on, Ian Japp was "black-holed". As he attempted to unwrap a snack he thought he would emulate Robbie McEwen and do a no-hands stunt. Do I need to explain the rest? You all know what the sound of crashing metal on bitumen sounds like don't you? The up-shot of this little incident cost the bunch 60 seconds or more as they abided by the Club’s duty-of-care code and returned to the spillage to offer any assistance if required. By default, the moral winners of the day were in this group but no points are awarded for this attribute.

Stephanie Frawley and Cameron Crothers were the next to succumb to the gravity field of this enigma. Jeff Mitchell had dropped a chain however, and he was gone, some others in the bunch were also starting to wilt from the Robbins-Winton combo on the front. Lokan soon paled along with Hale as Winton cranked up the effort late in the 5th lap. Robbins aided in the break-away which left Frawley, Gregory, Scott and Crothers at the mercy of the wolves.

Mitchell retrieved his chain and had found a new riding partner in Anderson by this time. With the number of rugged up riders at the start/finish line growing exponentially each passing lap, the lead duo of Winton and Robbins could only ponder the whereabouts of the riders from Hades.

Not much time needed to pass however, as not quite one lap since their breakaway move the dreaded capture happened. The four riders of the apocalypse, Schmidt, Busch, McNally and Brade, glided past the leading pair like wring-wraithes from a J.R.R. Tolkien novel. Mulhearn and Floramo had been cast aside.

Slipping onto the back of this awesome foursome the two mortals clung, ever mindful of the pain which was about to be inflicted by an A grade surge. Waiting and waiting, it wasn't occurring. Then Schmidt tired of the sub-scratch pace and drove his feet through the pedals down the sharp decline with vigour. Robbins winced under the pressure and Winton tried to stay within a rubber mans arm length, but, just, couldn't, quite, make, the, gap, up, and, then, they were gone! Was that relief or exasperation? He'll never know. And that’s pretty much how the last lap went as the scratch quartet received the bell, Winton heard it chime too, Robbins captured a clang or 3 from the brass melodic tool and everyone settled down to their fate as foretold in their DNA. Scott, Gregory and Frawley managed to keep Crothers, Mitchell and Anderson off their tails in that order. Peter Mills rode in alone in 13th, followed by Doyle and Athorn in tandem and in lantern rouge was the Club President, Peter Mulhearn.

Next week is the Theological retreat at Werrimull, hosted by Dave Priest. Mildura riders will be visited by the Riverland terminator, Hamish Mackirdy and whoever else he can press-gang into our annual Inter-Club race. The graded handicap will be followed by cold ales and hot party pies in the front bar of the Werrimull pub. Just what the doctor ordered (No, I don't mean Arthur !).


1 E Schmidt
2 R McNally
3 I Brade
4 M Busch
5 P Winton
6 H Robbins
7 G Scott
8 K Gregory
9 S Frawley
10 J Mitchell
11 C Crothers
12 A Anderson
13 P Mills
14 R Doyle
15 T Athorn
16 P Mulhearn
DNF N Floramo, I Berulden, P Doody, M Shipsides, R Akkermans, J Lokan, R Hale, I Japp 

Local results 2004