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Murwillumbah Cycle Club
Tyalgum, March 1, 2003
Lyte work in humid conditions
By Phil Ruge
After almost 2 weeks of continuous rain which caused last weekend's race to be cancelled Saturday was very warm and humid but thankfully dry for the start of this week's road race conducted by the Murwillumbah Cycle Club.
This was the first monthly handicap race for this season and was held on the 'out and back' Tyalgum course. The race route covers some 55 kilometres and takes riders to Chillingham and across towards Tyalgum before doubling back on itself to finish at Dulguigan. It also includes 3 major climbs at Bald Mountain, Tyalgum Hill (half way point) and Bald Mountain again on the way home just to stretch the riders' legs!
A good field of 44 riders were divided into 6 groups for the race. These groups were limit, 3 minutes, 8 minutes and 12 minutes with chopping block off at 18 minutes and the scratch riders away at 21 minutes.
The limit riders set off at a steady pace but the humid conditions and a threatening sky meant that few riders were willing to share the work and keep this pace up. This group were joined by the 3 minute bunch just before Bald Mountain but were immediately caught in a storm which had been building quickly on the outward leg of the race.
With thunder, lightning and torrential rain this larger group struggled up to Bald Mountain where a number of riders abandoned whilst others got off and pushed their bikes up the steep and slippery climb as traction was all but impossible in these conditions! The following groups were more fortunate in that whilst they too got wet the worst of the storm had passed before they reached Bald Mountain and they had an easier passage up the steep climb. Once over the top the rain eased somewhat and conditions improved markedly.
However the damage had been done and the chasing groups up to chopping block had caught most of the front runners by the turn around at the top of Tyalgum Hill. Only the scratch riders were still in arrears at this stage but were closing fast as Robert Lyte had broken away on Bald Mountain and the others were in hot pursuit.
Lyte was making the most of the difficult conditions to slowly reel in the riders in front. He did this on the way back over Bald Mountain and by Chillingham the final selection for this race appeared to have been made. Included in the group with Lyte were Craig Reston, Will Gray, Sam Tate and Diane Monk who was having a great race.
Despite further heavy rain this lead group were never in doubt and subsequently jostled for the best position coming into the final straight. On the line it was Robert Lyte first with Sam Tate second, Craig Reston third, Will Gray fourth and Diane Monk fifth and the first woman to finish what had been a very difficult race. Robert Lyte also took fastest time at 1 hour 31 minutes for an average speed of 36.3 km/hr which showed just how difficult the race conditions had been!
Racing next week is a 55 kilometre scratch race over the Upper Crystal Creek course. Start time is 3.00 pm DST from Pat Smith Park, Dulguigan and hopefully the weather will be dry for a change!
Results, 55km handicap
1 Robert Lyte (Hinchinbrook) 1.31 (36.3 km/hr) (Fastest time) 2 Sam Tate (Murwillumbah) 3 Craig Reston (Murwillumbah) 4 Will Gray (Gold Coast) 5 Diane Monk (GoldStars)