M&H Time Trial

Age Standard Time Trial - M & H Trophy (Marylin and Henry Beaverstock)

The 2011 event on Sat 6 Aug is at Lookout Hill. It is the M & H Trophy which is a perpetual trophy donated by Henry and Marylin Beaverstock. The trophies (one for men and one for women) go to those who beat their age standard time by the greatest amount. This is not necessarily the fastest time, and in the history of the event the trophy has rarely been won by the quickest rider.

To make the event more interesting and hopefully encourage more competitors, Henry and Marylin have now kindly donated a second pair of trophies (one for men and one for women) for the riders with the fastest times.

As usual there will also be medals for the first three places against age standard. Henry will be present at the race to make the presentations.

Club Chrono Champs - from Jeff Culnane

Now that we have been so inspired by the amazing test against the clock by Cadel Evans at the Tour, I thought I should retro-visit some performances of our club chrono champs.

My starting point is the M&H Trophy, donated by foundation club members (Henry & Marilyn Beaverstock). This claret jug is awarded annually to the club rider who carves the most time off the time trial age standard. The results etched onto the base of the trophy tell a story of some outstanding rides in the test of truth. I have focused on the huge margins that bettered the age standard rather than the actual times. That’s because there have been variations in the course venue and, even when we have raced ostensibly over the same course, for instance the Lookout Hill venue, we sometimes descended down to the Tharwa store and sometime finished heading south or north on Lookout Hill). In the 90s the course was either a 15-km flat course at Mitchell or a 20-km flat course along Parkes Way. More recently, the race has been over 19.5km and the guns have skipped around the course in about 27-29minutes and the crafty dinosaurs among the starters have been able to get round in under 35min.

The outright all-time champ, in my opinion, was ‘The Professor’, Derek Robinson. He cruised more than 10min under age standard in 1998 and twice more than 9min under. In six trophy wins between 1996 and 2002 his ‘worst’ time was 7min under age standard – he must have had a puncture or mechanical that time. In all of these rides he glided on a steel bike without rear disc and well before the advent of the tri-spoke or 808 deep section wheels and integrated aero-handlebars with gearshifts. On the bike he was smooth as silk and, while generating cruise control power, he looked like he was on a picnic ride. You would swear he was on a Pedal Power outing (no disrespect intended).

However, comparing performances over time is fraught with difficulties. For instance, riders up to the mid-90s did not ride carbon-fibre bikes, nor did they have disc and deep-section wheels, approved aero-helmets, STI-levers at the end of aero-bars, heart-rate monitors and power meters; moreover, less was known then of the benefits of motor pacing and TT-specific interval training. So does this mean that The Professor’s times are an order of magnitude better again than our current crop of chrono champs? Well, perhaps, but in 1996 the club switched from the age standard data obtained through Phil Liggett to ATTA standards and these have been updated a few times. The ATTA standards are less favourable across the board (but not by much) than prior standards. The results of the AVCC TT championships in 2010 show that the tougher standards did not prevent three quarters of the men and half the women bettering their age standard on a course with a couple of turns and some testing undulations. Indeed, when comparing the results of the earlier champs with those of the current riders, there have been the other variables, significant ones, of the degrees of difficulty of the courses and the weather.

Getting back to the stars, a totally different rider who exhibited brute force over the machine was Ken Uren, who got under age standard by more than 8min. Unfortunately, health issues meant his reign as our club TT supremo, and his pattern of riding away from A grade chasers in graded scratch races, came to a halt a few years ago. His role on the road has been taken over by ‘Super mechanic’, Ian Downing – but I will leave the retro tribute of our road racers to another scribe.

At the ‘mature age’ end of the spectrum our best rider was undoubtedly Norm Simper. In 1995 at age 74 he was able to slip more than 8min under age standard. I spoke to Norm, now 90yrs, last week and he said, “Cadel rides too big a gear, two teeth short! Remember how Ulrich couldn’t match Armstrong for acceleration and he was grinding too big a gear? Anyway that is just my opinion and I don’t want to take anything away from Cadel’s great performance”. Norm competed six times (in the period from 1972 to 1996) in the world master road titles at St Johannes in Austria. At age 75, in 1996 he was in a chasing peloton that was diverted (ignorantly, not maliciously) by a policeman onto the wrong fork in the road and so he lost his chance of a podium finish.

In more recent times, Graham Allbon bolted to almost 6min under age standard. At that time and since Graham has been busy riding open road classics like Grafton-Inverell and masters track championships. If he had been a regular competitor in the M&H trophy race we may have seen him peel off a succession of wins by enough time to allow him to enjoy a latte and Danish pastry while the rest of us sauntered in.

Neils Laugerson put in some scintillating rides in our club TT series starting late last year, often vying for top spot on the podium on age standard with Reinhard Mauch and Jeff Culnane, while recording the fastest time. At the AVCC titles in 2010 he rode the 25-km course 5:11 under age standard (Jeff got around in 5:59 under and Peter Klein 3:42 under).

Other fine performers on chrono machines have been Nick Payne (5min under age standard in 2003), and ‘Hip Pad’, Peter Klein. When the latter dons an aerodynamic skinsuit, expect wonders with the shaving of 8mm (the hip padding –as a post-crash protector) of wind resistance from his stealth bomber profile. Honorable mentions should go to Bob McDonald who logged solid age standard deficits over 4 years to 2008, Mick Meaney on his black aero-steed, Anton Wurzer on his Morris (BMC), Bobby Dungca (the first club rider to arrive at the start with a disc wheel), and Reinhard Mauch on his Felt wedge. Reinhard is my current tip to win the M&H trophy with a sub-5min performance.

Cilla Ballard was our best-performed female clock rider in the mid-90s. In those days the club used a 16-km course around the showground at Mitchell and subsequently switched to the 20-km course from Anzac Parade along Parkes Way. She consistently rode the latter in 30 minutes (actually getting down to 29:10 in 1997) and, to give a measure of comparison, A-grade roadie Bobby Dungca was getting around the same course just 45 sec faster. Smooth and powerful on the bike, Cilla many a time terrorized the B-grade roadies with a Gilbert-like surge up Mt Tennant. Perhaps her only weakness was being challenged on skills associated with agility and posture at the turns of the TTs when she would more than a few times need to re-mount her TT machine to finish the time test.

Kerry Knowler is our current supremo. She has ridden several times in the national titles at Bunninyong at elite level against the likes of Kathy Watt, Sarah Carrigan and Anna Wilson. This year she came in 25th at 42:12 less than 4 min behind winner Shara Gillow. In 2009 she won gold at the World Masters Games at Eastern Creek getting around the 19-km track in 30:32 at an average of 37.33kmph. She almost missed the start and, without her disc being available to put on her Cervelo, she started off with people pinning her race number on at the last moment – she set off with an elevated heart and stress rate yet she put 43sec into the silver medalist. By comparison, Jeff Culnane, albeit of the inferior gender and a few minutes older, got around the same course 2min:15 slower for 9th place in his category.

In 2009, Sue Powell was recording in the 34min range in outings over our 19.5-km Lookout Hill course. Since then we have all seen her improvement both in a 5th place and 2:22 under age standard at the 2010 AVCC titles (Kerry rode 5:29 under in 2nd place), and some quick rides in Vikings TTs this year.

Now, what do all these chrono champs have in common? Well, I am told there may be some compulsive obsessive traits, perhaps some quirky-ness? I’ll leave it to you to judge. We chrono devotees know that the test of truth is not for everyone – so perhaps we are elitist, too?

I think now, someone should take up the cudgels and do a retro-tribute to our club road racing champs. I’ll give some tips: Brian Bateman who glided up hills in a huge gear, Mark Harris with his amazing acceleration and tactical nous, Ian Downing for his power and speed, and John Vincent and John Thorn as performance-for-age achievers should be mentioned. Who have I forgotten? Well, others can pick up the thread.

Jeff Culnane

27 July 2011