Stepping up from weekend warrior to Vets

Group of cyclists racing in a criterium

Front runner: Gary Murdoch leads the pack during a veterans' criterium in Bendigo

A fact not widely known is that Veteran bike racers exist in their own individual spheres of reality which bump into other spheres of reality once a week during the race, and during these collisions of time and space the “real” reality is hopelessly scrambled. It is therefore quite normal to sit in the Woodstock Hall with a sandwich and a cup of coffee after a race and hear ten different versions of the event in which you participated, none of which bear any resemblance to your own recollections. You can be hailed as a hero when you felt like a mug, you can praise another’s efforts and hear he was on the rivet all day; you can commiserate with the third place-getter who has a smile from ear-to-ear as he mumbles something about his mark in the Oppy. And almost certainly you will have a laugh and, by the time you pull into the driveway, no matter how bad your race went, you will be looking forward to the next one and the chance to generate a new sphere of reality.

Central Victorian Veterans Cycling Club Inc at their headquarters Woodstock-on –Loddon Hall offers Central Victorian riders from across the district a competitive racing. Generally speaking events are run on Saturday afternoons (Sunday mornings in January) from Woodstock but events are also conducted at many other locations including Emu Creek, Bagshot, Maryborough, Newbridge and Melville Caves to name a few. Club races are generally handicap over distances varying from 35 km to 64 km, with the occasional criterion and graded scratch race thrown in for variety. The summer series that is conducted out at Emu Creek on a Wednesday night in the day light savings months has grown over the years in popularity as a mid week series.  The Central Victorian Veteran’s Cycling Club is affiliated with the Australian Veteran’s Cycling Council, so riders can also ride in veteran’s club events right across Australia, and even in a few countries overseas.

As well as running club races the Central Vic Vets have hosted state and national veteran’s titles, and each year conduct two major open events. The first, the O’Brien Contracting Open held at Woodstock in the month of March. The other Central Vets open is the Oppy, held in Rochester every May in memory of the great Hubert Opperman, both attracting big fields up to and over 130 riders. The club also host the Bendigo and District Cycling Club making prize money and afternoon tea available as all part of the Vet’s experience.

A criterium, or crit, is held on a short course (usually less than 5 km), often run on closed-off city center streets. Race length can be determined by a number of laps or total time, the average speed and intensity are appreciably higher. The winner is the first rider to cross the finish line without having been “lapped.” Criteriums requires a mix of good technical skills — in particular, the ability to corner smoothly, while “holding your line” on the road, with “sprint” ability to attack other riders and repeatedly accelerate hard from corners.

A scratch race is a cycling race in which all contestants start from scratch (on equal terms). Finishing order is based on the final order across the line at the completion of the race; there are no intermediate points or sprints.

Handicap racing is designed to accommodate all starters (old, young, fast, slow, men, woman).  Riders are let off in their respective groups onto the same course at different intervals slowest to fastest.  The time intervals between the different groups are determined by the Handicapper.  The group starting the race is called “limit” (could start with a 30mins advantage).  The second last group which is called “the Chopping Block”, and the final group to start is called “Scratch”  If the race is handicapped properly and fairly, all of the groups should catch each other in the closing kilometres of the race.
Vet’s racing is a great next step for the weekend warrior who still has the competitive juices flowing and wants to get the heart rate up in a safe and friendly environment. Club members range from ex-champions to complete novices, and there’s no better place to learn all the tricks of the trade and become a better cyclist. Anyone who hasn’t ridden competitively can come out for a free “try-ride” before making the decision whether or not to sign up. But be warned – bike racing is addictive!

Further information about the Central Victorian Veteran’s Cycling Club can be found on the club’s website or by emailing centralvicvets[at]

Looking forward to seeing you on the road soon God willing


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