Last Saturday saw the running of the Peel District’s Cycling Club, North Dandalup Handicap. This is a unique race on the club’s calendar in that it is a handicap with all 95 riders competing against everyone, instead of racing in seperate grades. And while most races in the calendar are flat, the race starts with a 6 kilometre climb up Del Park Road, before an undulating 19 kilometres to Dwellingup, turning around racing the lumpy 19 kilometre back along Del Park Road, before the final 6 kilometre descent into North Dandalup.
With a handicap, the start times are staggered, with the aim of all riders finishing at the same time if the handicapper gets it right. Mitchell Spencer a light weight under 17 rider was handicapped on his performances in flat windy races. However, this was a very different race, Spencer left his companions on the first climb, caught and passed all the riders ahead before the summit. He did not see another rider until he was heading back from Dwellingup with a very healthy lead. Spencer maintained that lead to win by three minutes.
Tim Hopkins racing his first race with Peel, was handicapped on his age and experience started three minutes behind Spencer. Hopkins climbed as well as Spencer, leaving his group, catching riders ahead and by Dwellingup, was second on the road some three minutes behind the lone leader.Hopkins could not close the gap, but stayed clear of the pursuers to finish second.
The climb quickly splintered most groups, with the strongest climbers from each group leap frogging from the remains of one group to another. The first group of riders working together to reach Dwellingup, consisted of four riders who started in four different groups. This group picked up a couple more it riders on the return, but even working together, reduced the margin but could not catch the two ahead. James Martin took third outright from the bunch sprint.
The last group to leave was the largest consisting of twelve of the strongest riders. They knew the task ahead, needing to catch all 80 riders and worked well together. The pace was too strong for some and they lost a few riders. They also picked up riders from the groups ahead, though most were not able to hang on and only a few able to contribute. It was from the remains of this group that National Under 19 Road Race Champion Tyler Lindorff outsprinted Conor Leahy to claim twelfth outright and fastest time.