Weekly Newsletter – 06 Jan 2016

Road Cycling – Graham Ward (g.ward@mweb.co.za)

Important Notes

Bunch Safety

  • Obey traffic signals – reds lights
  • Ride inside the yellow line
  • Single file on narrow roads
  • Point out objects in the road

Bunch Etiquette

  • Blow your nose at the back of the bunch
  • Don’t attack – training rides are just that – training rides
  • Don’t half bike
  • Be punctual – our rides leave at 6.30am

Visitors are always welcome. Saturday rides are slower and easier so beginners are welcome. Sundays are not for the fainthearted or unfit!

Saturday 9 January 2016
Meet at 6.20am – Briefing
To Contermanskloof, Faircape Dairy and then up and over Tiekiedraai to St Johns Road in Aurora and then retrace your steps back along Giel Basson

Sunday 10 January 2016
Meet at 6.20am – Briefing
Long – Franschoek and back to Edgemead
Short – To the end of Bottleray and back to Edgemead

Saturday 16 January 2016
10 Mile time-trial for the Fripp Cup – Meet at the Melkbosstrand Pick & Pay to start at 7.30am

Sunday 17 January 2016
Nick the Demon – Atlantis Circuit – Meet at Atlantis to start at 7.30am


Just a little something to motivate you to train for Nick the Demon!!!!

I’ve bike raced in a lot of different places but have never experienced a handicap race until coming to Australia.   These types of races are extremely popular here and I think it’s great.  What makes a Handicap bike race?  Well, all the starters are grouped into similar abilities by a “Handicapper” in the days preceding the race.  Yes, all the starters(old, young, fast, slow, men, woman, ).  On race day all the riders are let off with their respective groups onto the same course at different intervals.  The slowest group will start first, the second slowest group will start a few minutes behind and so on.  The time intervals between the different groups is determined by the Handicapper.  The Handicapper will take all sorts of things into consideration when determining who is to be in each of the groups and the start interval (riders’ previous race results, who in the various trade teams have entered, weather conditions, course profile, etc).

The first group starting the race is called “Limit” (could be starting with a 30mins advantage).  The next group that starts is called the “26 minute group” for example.  All the way down to the second last group which is called “the Chopping Block”, and the final group to start is called “Scratch”.  Scratch is obviously the fastest group of the bunch.   Scratch starts the race with a large time disadvantage (eg. 30 minute) and need to catch up to every other group in order to win.  If the race is handicapped properly and fairly, all of the groups should catch each other in the closing kilometers of the race.


The rider who crosses the finish line first wins the race.  He/she could have come from any bunch and was never caught.  There is also a prize for the fastest time.   This is the rider who comes across the finish line in the least amount of time.  The Fastest Time prize will usually go to a rider in one of the stronger bunches like Scratch or the Chopping Block.

I love handicap races.  It gives absolutely everyone a chance to race against each other and some 13 year old kid or a 70 year old could have a legitimate chance of winning the race.   You might think that if the winner comes from a group that had a 25min advantage it would not be considered a “real win” by some of the others.  This is not the case. It is regarded as a legitimate win just as much if a pro from the Scratch bunch won the race.  The Fastest Time prize is also regarded very highly and the prize money is usually just as good as getting the win.

When a handicap race begins and your group is let out of the starting gates, the bunch usually works beautifully together rolling turns like a well oiled machine.  You are trying to catch the group in front of you (which is minutes up the road), as well as trying to not get caught by the group behind you.  One of the fun things about handicaps is the collusion and strategy talks before the race begins.  Everyone has their own opinion on what the strategy should be and how the race will pan out.  The great thing about handicaps is that they are so unpredictable and anything can happen and there is no strategy!

Mountain Biking – Carrick Pitman (0725480909 or carrickp@gmail.com)

To be advised shortly …

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