THERE was a pleasant sense of symmetry on Saturday when the Bathurst Cycle Club staged their Ben and Biddy Hall Handicap races to coincide with this weekend’s Ben Hall Raid Festival to mark 150 years since his visit to Bathurst.
The winners of the races, named after the famous bushranger and his wife, were a married pair - Dave and Jette McKeller, the rapidly improving duo claiming their biggest wins since they recently began racing with the club.
“Dave hasn’t been riding for all that long but he and Jette have been doing a lot of cycling recently and they both were outstanding,” club spokesperson Mark Windsor said.
“The race is set up to try and give every level of rider a chance. They went from Perthville out to Caloola and back again, overall it was a distance of a little over 40 kilometres.
“We were missing a few of the higher level riders, Blair Windsor and Craig Hutton are both in Canberra racing in the National Road Series, but we still had some high quality riders, Harry Carter was probably the main one of the backmarkers.”
According to Windsor, Dave McKeller made the most of his handicap in the Ben Hall race and, despite having to conquer a testing climb up the hill at Caloola, he managed to survive it intact and did enough to hold off Stephen Dunstall, Rhyle Baker, Mark Windsor and Geoff Short.
Rhyle Baker has been steadily gaining in form and he produced one of the strongest rides of his career to record the fastest time on the day.
In the Biddy Hall race Jette McKeller was good enough to defeat Jasmine Lee, Toireasa Gallagher, Marian Renshaw and Rosemary Hastings.
“We also had a King and Queen of the Mountain classification, but we won’t find out the results of that until we get back some of the GPS data that we were using the get the times,” Windsor explained.
“The two race winners have been in outstanding form lately, it isn’t like Dave slipped under the handicapper or anything, but he’s just improving so quickly that by the time we handicap him at a certain point, he’s already gotten faster again.
“The races were all about getting involved on the back of the good work of the Bathurst Historical Society. I managed to convince a couple of kids that Ben Hall haunts the road out to Caloola.
“We were rapt to be a part of the whole thing and it was nice that the week before the 150th anniversary of Ben’s raid on Bathurst, it was 150 years since his raid on Caloola.
“We’ll make sure that we get in next weekend and enjoy the festival and hopefully do some more stuff like this in the future.”