Canola Canter 2004

Ray Stenhouse - 10th October 2004

A perfect day saw 45 cyclists front at Wagga Beach for the Canola Canter. At about 7:15 it was a bit frantic as the good weather had drawn out the crowd and 13 unregistered riders fronted at the last moment needing to pay and get their brevets and maps. Anyway, after the briefing where the route and the controls were carefully explained, or so I thought, at 7:30am 31 riders mounted their bikes and pushed off for Marrar. They were followed by another two about 15 minutes later that arrived to be surprised to find the 7:30 start meant a 7:30 start.

Using safety in numbers the cyclists were not bothered by the magpies near the Palm and Pawn as these particularly aggressive birds stayed safely in the nest as the colourful procession rode by. Once onto the Coolamon Road the first of the inclines separated the group as people settled into cruise mode.

Joanne Cheshire once again made the trip into Marrar township to make certain the cyclists didnít starve or run out of water along the way. With brevets validated and a determination to get further down the track the cyclists headed to Coolamon.

It has always been an enjoyable part of the Canola Canter, the leg from Marrar to Coolamon. Several bunches had formed and most people were making good time. However, this year saw a couple of riders miscue their turns at Coolamon and these ended up riding a lot further than they had planned. Well, next year they will know better we hope. One, having never ridden more than 50km clocked up 132km for the day and made it well in time despite the extra kilometres. The other, who made the same mistake separately, called for the support vehicle at Millwood with 100km under her tyres calling her partner to pick her up.

The road gets a bit lumpy from Coolamon across to Millwood. Overall it is downhill to the Old Narrandera Road but some of the ups before then can be testing. The Millwood control was provisioned, ready for the hungry hordes, and was staffed by Jan Marks and Ann Harvey. To make life interesting they waited until the control was inundated with livestock before setting up.

There was no chance of getting lonely out there this year with, to quote Jan, ďa million and a half cows out hereĒ plus the associated drover and his horses and dogs.

From Millwood it was a bit of a push into a light headwind up and over Malebo Hill. The good thing about going over Malebo Hill is that it is a great downhill and this builds up the momentum for the final push back into town to finish at the Beach.

The two ladies that started late took their time, had 45 minutes in Coolamon for coffee, and managed to get back with three minutes to spare having had a great ride.

With some of the 100km riders finished and heading home the 200km riders had a break, and restocked the energy levels for the journey out past Oura to Wantabadgery. The water provided by Jane and Roger Waters at Wantabadgery has special restorative powers according to one rider attempting his first 200km ride. The Canberra chaps spent a bit of time touring Wantabadgery looking for the control but the others found it without any drama.

Junee was next on the horizon where Carole Windsor was waiting to ensure the cyclists were on track. On the way out some didnít make it past the Locomotive Hotel without stopping but it was only a short stop and it was a hot day. Past Harefield along the Bomen Road and back to the Beach concluded the ride. By now the magpies on Hampden Avenue were back to their best as a lone cyclist discovered.

The 50km riders, 12 in total, headed off at 8:30am. Their route took them out the North Wagga towards the CSU before getting onto the Old Narrandera Road. They followed this out past Euberta to Millwood where they had to thread their way through the travelling stock to get to the Millwood control.

After relieving Jan and Ann of some edibles they returned the way they came to the Wagga Beach. Again they had to negotiate through the livestock with at least one rider wishing he wasnít wearing a red jersey. Another rider was happy that the splashes from the road surface flicked up from the tyres matched her green jersey but while the coloured stripe might not have given her away the smell did.

As always these events rely on the willingness of many people that volunteer their time. Leila Fell and Lyn Stenhouse spent hours of their Sunday at the Beach. Joanne Cheshire went out of her way to man the Marrar control, as did Jan Marks and Ann Harvey the Millwood one. Jane and Roger Waters once again looked after the riders at Wantabadgery and Carole Windsor did a great job at Junee. Without these people this event would not have been as enjoyable for the riders and we are extremely grateful for their efforts.

This year saw riders travel a fair way to take in the sights and delights along the route. Riders came from Sydney, Canberra, Wangaratta, Leeton, Yanco, Narrandera, Albury and Junee. It is hoped that they all had a great experience and will be back with some friends next year. Thereís plenty of time to train up for th



Did Not Finish














e next challenge, be that going further, going faster, or just sticking to the route.