The John Sewell Memorial.
I thought I would give you the report on the John Sewell Memorial Handicap from a race Director and as a Commissaire’s perspective, as this was what John, (or Mr Sewell to us young kids) did so well at the Brunswick Club.
When I joined the Brunswick Amateur Cycling Club in 1973 there were some rules that even a 12 year old kid didn’t quite understand the relevance, like you must wear white socks, have a bell fitted “that resonated” (that meant went ding) and you had to wear arm guards, which were pads that covered your elbows, usually made in the shape of a tube of elastic!
There were some rules that we did understand, keep to the left of the centre of the road, obey instructions from all officials etc.
I quickly learned that it did not matter if a rider considered a rule to be “silly” if they disobeyed it and John saw or was made aware of it he enforced it!
John Sewell also made sure that every time we raced it was safe, while we were driving or riding out to the course little did we know that he would be out checking the course for any dangers like road works, pot holes and gravel on corners.
His pre race briefings were always concise and to the point and it was with this in mind that my briefing would follow suit.
Here it is.
If there is chalk writing on the road it is because there is an obstacle ahead,
The first railway crossing is rough is one.
The narrow bridge on the downhill right hand bend is the other.
The corner onto Crows Rd is dusty so take care, as is the corner at Russells Rd.
Where there is a white line keep to the left of it.
On narrow sections and there is an oncoming car do your best to move to the left.
At the railway crossings if the lights are on you must stop.
Anyone who is seen to not follow these instructions will be disqualified.
I think John would approve of that.
The race started with 4 Commissaires, 9 volunteers, 2 St Johns units in attendance and under clear skies, a light wind was begining to pick up the leaves.
130 riders were spread over a total of 24 minutes and 3 laps of the 25km circuit.
The finish line was marked with 1km and 600 metre to go signage.
The first lap went without incident with the team of commissaires reporting no issues, this is to be expected as riders will be “fresh” and not fatigued. I was positioned at the intersection of Central Rd and Tylden-Woodend Rd for this lap and the traffic on the Tylden Rd was quite high for a Saturday morning, with the farmers market and netball on in Woodend this was to be expected.
Highway Patrol vehicles were also patrolling this section of road.
The limit bunch which started with 10 was blown apart and was reduced to 3 by the 15km mark, credit to the scratchmen who brushed off a delay at the 1st rail crossing and settled into a solid pace and riding smoothly.
Lap 2 saw the bunches begin to come together and by half way round the 2nd lap the race had become 4 main groups. I was on the intersection of Carlsruhe-Central Rd and Central Rd, this corner presented a few issues in regards to safety awareness when fatigued.
The approach to the left turn was downhill, the road surface had “ripple” strips prior to the intersection, riders crested a short hill 500m before the corner making awareness of oncoming vehicles very limited.
The corner did not allow for clear vision “through” or around the corner, placing extra emphasis on riders being able to exit the corner safely on the left side of the centre line in case of oncoming vehicles.
It was at this corner that the majority of infringements occured, most were in “bunch” situations, however, the most worrying fact is that some of the most blatant crossing of the double white line involved solo competitors.
Riders who were observed crossing the white lines were,
127 Andrew Neilson (exit), 120Kurt Boledziuk (approach & exit), 131 Evan Willen (twice on approach & solo), 98 Michael Sparke (approach & exit), 70 Ben Craven (approach & exit), 72 James Harrison (exit), 86 Tom Lancashire (exit), 69 Iain Clark (exit), 83 Luke Fry (exit), 68 Marco Bramucci (exit) 67 Jeremy Soawyer (exit), James Foran (exit), 43 Steve Duggan (exit), 61 Paddy McIntyre (exit), White Giant with whit windvest covering number (exit), 32 Sean Roberts (exit), 28 Heath Jackson (exit), 34 Adam Versteege (exit), 22 David Baker (exit), 31 Simon Macaulay (exit), 40 Tim Claeys (approach), 11 Simon Welsh (exit), 8 Nick Katsonis (approach & exit), 9 Kosmos Samaras (approach & exit), 5 James Butler (exit), 4 Adrian Booth (exit).
On the hill before Crows rd 84 Angelo Gasparini (double white lines solo)
Crows Rd corner 47 Tom McDonough, (approach) 18 Chris Smith (approach), 4 Adrian Booth (approach).
Lap 3 saw the race become 4 bunches, a complaint was recieved from a motorist who followed a group along Central Rd claiming they were blocked from passing, however they did not provide any contact details.
At the intersection of Central Rd and Tylden-Woodend Rd the second last group were held for approx 15 seconds due to traffic, this group is to be congratulated for their composure.
The leading group were caused to stop at the rail crossing on Crows Rd and were caught by the chasing group. Due to there being no officials being available to be in attendance at rail crossings nor follow vehicles for each group with established time gaps, the procedure at level crossings etc 2011 Cycling Australia Technical Regulations 3.98.42 could not be implemented.
The finish was conducted by a group estimated to be in excess of 30 riders and the behaviour of the sprint to the line is to be commended.
Riders were called to claim their positions, and claims were taken to 19th place due to a number of disqualified riders placing in the top 10.
The final placings were.
1st Richard Longmire St Kilda
2nd Nick Smith Sunbury
3rd Paul Kippin Hawthorn
4th Sam Gifford St Kilda
5th Julian Fleurus Hawthorn
6th Gareth Townsend St Kilda
7th Brendan O’Loughan Brunswick
8th Adrian Chew Coburg
9th Andrew McGrath Hawthorn
10th Peter Mazzarella Brunswick
1st Female to finish Abby Grave Coburg
Fastest Time Shannon Johnson Preston
I believe there is a need for signage that states Beware of Cyclists that could be positioned in areas where the riders warm up and ride out to the actual circuit to make motorists aware of an increase in cycle traffic in the area.
All competitors are to be congratulated for their “cleanliness” as on my circuit to pick up signage after the presentations there was no visible rubbish like gel wrappers etc and on my return to the Buffalo Sports Centre Car park there were only 2 banana peels that I had to pick up on my final inspection.
Travel Kms 196
Event Kms 130
Depart home 6am, Return 4pm.
Race Director Cam McFarlane