Yet another weekend passes with MANLY putting in some solid performances. Saturday morning saw the boys head out for “The Hardest Hundred – Round 2”. Apparently this time it’s personal. Your humble correspondent noticed the wet roads and immediately resumed a deep sleep – (not sure what happened to the rest of the team – anyone wanna fill this part in?)

On Saturday afternoon, Ross Chaffer was flying the MANLY flag on his lonesome in A grade down at Heffron Park. With talk of previous successes out there (mostly from Rosco), we were all on tenterhooks waiting for the result. However, it seems that Rosco’s racing rustiness may have impeded an ideal result – apparently cornering at 50km/h proved to be the main challenge – or was it keeping up on the way out of those corners? Never mind fella, there’s always next week

Sunday morning was the big one. MANLY was out at the Sydney Olympic Tennis Centre to take on the might of masters cycling in Sydney – well maybe a few of them anyway. With a solid line-up consisting of Kable Mitchell, Ross Chaffer (still very keen to get a few races under the belt after a long lay-off), Ben Elvy, Alex (I’ll just take it easy this morning fella’s, it’s someone else’s turn to have a go) Gardner and Mystery Rider (aka former Capoforma male model), all ready to roll. It was a cracking day and we were a fairly upbeat lot as we met in the carpark at Homebush, with maybe a touch of pre-race nerves keeping the banter flowing along freely. And speaking of flowing freely, there was also a few random displays of the obligatory carpark nudity.

The start line was awash with blue as we had at least double the numbers of any other club. There was a smattering of Waratahs, a couple of Turbo Studios, a Penrith, Trudy V-S from BiciSport, everyone’s mate Gareth from SUVelo and an LACC or two. It would be safe to say with the teams recent successes, we felt pretty confident lining up in that company.

The first lap was used to get our bearings then on the second we were treated to the sight of Alex starting the first attack of the day. Glad he was taking it easy! Straight away the heart-rate went into the red and it was “race face” all round, (or rather grimaces and gaping mouths sucking in the oxygen). This attack was shut down by the big fella from Penrith and one or two others. Once the race was back together and since we had the numbers, “bang” went away our Mystery Rider searching for a quick gap. Again this one was shut down fairly quickly as all riders were pretty fresh. The pace was also still fairly high and it felt like there was no respite…

So shortly after yet another attack was launched by Gareth, the lone SUVelo rider. “Let him go” was the call from the Manly boys. Best sledge of the day! In his defence, it does make it a bit tough to get away when everyone knows how good (or not) you are. Once Gareth drifted back to the bunch, Mystery Rider took the opportunity for some bragging rights in the office this week and hit the bunch hard around the 20 minute mark. A lone Turbo Studio followed behind and that was it. Thankfully (to this incredibly rapidly beating heart) they were away and not a lot more hard riding was required from MANLY. Apparently the Turbo was strong for the first 10 mins of the break but seemed to fade from then on. So from then on it was up to Mystery Rider to keep the break going, however the offer of the Prime at the halfway mark seemed to buck up the spirits of his fellow escapee.

Meanwhile back in the bunch, MANLY was riding a solid tempo but obviously not pushing too hard lest we catch our teammate. We also started getting time gaps each time at the finish line, which at one point was out to 1 minute. Good news for us, it made our job easier. Every now and again a surge would come from the bunch and every time the ‘surger/s’ would find themselves with a blue shadow and ended up back in the bunch pretty quick. It seems that the remainder of the pack was a little intimidated by MANLY or couldn’t / wouldn’t organise themselves to chase. This did seem to bother a few of our fellow competitors, but not so much to some others. (No point whinging about our dominance after the event people, best leave it all out on the course).

Once Mystery Rider finished dragging his companion around the circuit he managed to almost get him out of this shot as he crossed the line.

Mystery Rider… Photos from Ernie Smith

Seems the modelling background hasn’t been wasted – a nice smile for the camera and a great endorsement for the sponsors. Thankfully no signs of any poncey dance moves!

As the bunch rounded the final corner there was a long and strong lead out by Manly which saw Ross Chaffer take 3rd and Mitch in 5th. Alex was still up there and finished high in the pack and yours truly may have even snuck into the top ten. Overall a strong win to Mystery Rider and a very dominant performance by MANLY, a great morning out.