After some uncertainty around the possibility of racing, the lifting of restrictions on Friday morning meant the sixth round of the Mount Gambier Cycling Club Kidman Law Co Spring/Summer Series could get under way.
Eighteen starters nominated for the senior handicap race, held over a 34km out and back course along Canunda Frontage Road through the Tantanoola Lake Bonney Wind Farm.
Of particular note was the slight rise at the 7km mark, which would favour the lighter riders, while the presence of a wind farm also meant there would be some wind for the ride at some stage.
The main head wind faced the riders as they left the start point, changing to a slight tail wind for the leg along the wind farm roads.
After the turnaround point, the reverse would occur and the riders would enjoy a nice 7km wind assisted push to the finish line.
Molly Opperman was the only Junior rider who nominated for this weekend’s ride and was driven out to the start of the Frontage rd to time trial the 7km back to the finish line.
She rode strongly with the wind behind her, flying back to the finish line, wishing she had more gears available.
In the main event the first riders to leave were the trio of Buckland’s; Jen, Jason and Elmer.
They were given a generous 18-minute handicap over the next group, consisting of Mike Bakker, Bruce McLaughlin and Harry Opperman.
The third group to leave, containing Malcolm Tirabassi, Spek Peake, Dean Zeven and John Cranwell left just one minute later followed by a further three minute gap until Matthew Opperman, Patrick Langsmith, Jami Buckley and Riley Hill joined the race.
Finally the scratch group of Nick Kidman, Ash Herrewyn, Dave Bryant and visiting rider Mike Walsh began their pursuit of the 26-minute gap to the front.
The first part of the race was into a headwind and each group worked hard to maintain momentum and cohesion until the base of the climb.
It was in the climb the first cracks began to show and groups began to splinter.
Out in front, Elmer Buckland was able to ride away with a higher power to weight ratio and made it to the turnaround point with a gap over the rest of the field in spite of the efforts of his parents to close the gap with a slight tailwind.
Further back in the field, the makeup of some of the groups had changed as riders battled the wind and hills.
Herrewyn, Bryant and Walsh warmed to the challenge of scything through the field and had already made up the four-minute gap to the next group before 15km had passed, with other riders scrambling to hold on to their wake.
After the turnaround, the front riders were able to gauge how much time the rest of the field had been able to catch up and the possible time frame of their capture. Thanks to Deb Lang and Damian The slight cross-tailwind along the Lake Bonney frontage made its presence felt as a head wind for the return leg up to the hill.
Once over the hill a nice firm tailwind had the riders enjoying a quick pace back towards the finish line.
Once again enjoying the high power-to-weight ratio, Elmer Buckland was able to extend his advantage over the other racers as he rode over the hill and used the tailwind to full effect.
He crossed the line first in a time of 1:09:40 followed by a large time gap before Jen Buckland pipped husband Jason to the line.
As the next racers neared the finish line, it became apparent the Scratch riders had once again almost passed the entire field.
Flying downwind for the final 7km, they were wishing for a couple of extra cogs in their big chain ring in order to catch the Buckland’s in front.
Alas it was not to be this time, but Bryant led Kidman over the finish line to take fastest time honours (51:06), less than eight minutes behind Elmer.
Having been caught by the flying scratch riders within sight of the finish, the next group of Zeven, Cranwell and Tirabassi arrived shortly afterwards.
They were followed by Herrewyn, Peake, Hill, McLaughlin, Bakker, Harry Opperman, Buckley, Matthew Opperman, Langsmith and Walsh.
The next race for the Kidman Law Co, Spring/Summer series will see a return to the familiar Caves Road course, for a shorter 20km handicap race.
Early forecasts suggest a perfect day for racing awaits with a light headwind finale.
The club is also looking forward to Auscycling Coach Tim Dekker conducting a coaching weekend on October 29-31.
Enquiries for this opportunity can be made by contacting Tina Opperman.