Melbourne Bicycles Hanging Rock Handicap Race Report



First 10 placers and race director/organizer Alison Skene

 ‘without a doubt the most positive race experience I’ve ever had.’   ‘never seen anything quite like it before. The buzz was amazing.’

 ‘I got an amazing workout, I experienced the “working together” and it felt amazing. I’d like to race more’

 ‘brilliant supportive atmosphere’    ‘Race vibes were electric!’   ‘easily one of the best days I have had on a bike’

 ‘This feels like a game changer!!’


These are just some of the responses received about the inaugural Melbourne Bicycles Hanging Rock Handicap, held on Feb 16 2019.

It started with an idea – to show what a fun, challenging and above all inclusive women’s road race looks like.  Then it snowballed into an event the likes of which has never been seen in Australia!

The organizers’ collective years of race experience crystalized late in 2018 into an event plan, and soon after we were successful recipients of a Change our Game grant, a state government initiative to bring the joy of sporting participation to more women and girls. Generous sponsorship from Melbourne Bicycles was received, Hawthorn Cycling Club enthusiastically supported the plan and we were well on our way.

A handicap format was chosen for it’s all-in nature, beginners versus elites, and everyone in between. Anyone on a good day can win. But it cannot happen without teamwork, consistent effort and some tactics. Ingredients for a great race.

We ran a series of sessions in the lead up to the race, focusing on the key to handicap racing – fast rolling bunch turns. This helped ensure riders gain not only skills, but knowledge and confidence.

The publicity machine that is SheRace Facebook page was unleashed as a platform for dissemination of knowledge, discussion and the creation of unstoppable momentum.

Race organisers, lead by Alison Skene, were busy behind the scenes ensuring all the arrangements for the race were in place, including permits, sanctioning, referees, venues, entries, licences and more.

By race day we knew we had the ingredients right, with entries topping 100. We believe this is the biggest grassroots level women’s cycling event ever seen in Australia, and bigger than many elite races too. Feedback from the event has been overwhelmingly positive.

With handicapping designed to give everyone a fair chance, many riders experienced the thrill of maintaining a hard working bunch for most of the race, only splitting up near the finish. The limit bunches in particular (off 44, 36 and 29 minutes) found themselves holding their advantage, taking out most of the top 15 places. No one capitalised more on their mark than dark horses Karen A and Claire C, who managed to break free of their limit group, eventually crossing the line together in a photo finish. Perfect weather conditions helped everyone maintain their efficient bunches, while the short sharp hills created some breaks and mixing of the 4, 61/2 and 10 minute groups. Scratch’s firepower was diminished by some DNSs, and perhaps the large time gaps were too much mentally for the faster riders to overcome. Oh well, the handicapper can never get it perfect!

A steady stream of exhausted but smiling riders found their way over the finish line, and regrouped back at the presentation area to swap war stories, ponder what could have been and revel in the atmosphere of celebration and camaraderie.

See below for formal results, and a long list of thank yous.



Full timed results are available here (thanks to Colin Bell):

Entries: 100, starters: 93, finishers: 86


Pos Bib Last Name First Name Team Category Time Gap Finish Offset Corrected km/hr
1 100 AARONS KAREN NA 44 (mins) 02:14:22 02:14:22 28.67
2 102 CHANDLER CLAIRE St Kilda Cycling Club 44 (mins) 02:14:22 0’00” 02:14:22 28.67
3 86 SIMPSON KATH St Kilda Cycling Club 36 (mins) 02:16:32 2’10” 02:16:32 29.97
4 61 CLOTHIER FIONA St Kilda Cycling Club 25 (mins) 02:17:35 3’12” 02:17:35 32.48
5 80 PHILLIPS SUE Southern Masters Cycling Club 29 (mins) 02:17:51 3’28” 02:17:51 31.36
6 85 D’ARCY JAYNE Footscray Cycling Club 29 (mins) 02:17:51 02:17:51 31.36
7 89 WOODWARD-KRON ROBYN Darwin Cycling Club 36 (mins) 02:18:31 4’09” 02:18:31 29.51
8 88 WILLIAMS SUSAN Eastern Cycling Club 36 (mins) 02:18:35 4’13” 02:18:35 29.50
9 65 MCCLELLAND JESSICA Hawthorn Cycling Club 25 (mins) 02:18:46 4’24” 02:18:46 32.16
10 76 HOWARD LISA Carnegie Caulfield CC 29 (mins) 02:18:51 4’28” 02:18:51 31.10
FT 1 ROSEMAN-GANNON RUBY Brunswick 00 (mins) 02:24:20 9’58” 1:40:20 38.39


The following riders were also awarded miscellaneous prizes based on various arbitrary performance criteria, as judged by their peers –

Tamaryn Stevens (lantern rouge), Kathryn Bates, Donna Meehan, Claire Boulange, Amanda Footit, Corinn Strating, Kristi Darby, Michelle Hyde.

Congratulations to all.


Thanks to….

Enormous thanks to the following people and organisations for making the inaugural Melbourne Bicycles Hanging Rock Handicap such a success!

Major Sponsors

Change Our Game, an initiative of the state government

Melbourne Bicycles


Other Sponsors

Cazz Clarke, MPower Remedial Massage

Rapha (Alan Iacuone)

Pedla (Erin Ferguson)

Giant Hampton

Hawthorn Cycling Club (especially Dave Hendy, Bec Covington, Michael Dunn, Liz Hilton, Brendan Cleary, Jess McLelland, Zoe Bright, Jen Matthies, Emma Andrews) – for all kinds of support, material and expertise, handicapping, grant, publicity)

Northern Combine Cycling (especially Colin Bell, Luke McDonough, Andrew Gannon, Peter Markey, Kos Samaras, Matt Irons, Marc Loecherer) – for all kinds of support, material and expertise, permits, handicapping, first aid)

Macedon Ranges Shire Council (Nicole Pietruschka, Anne Walsh)

Cycling Victoria (Annina Gallagher, Astrid van Uden)

Race day volunteers (drivers Michael Dam, Alison O’Toole, Ross Ogilvie, Nic Price; corners Doris Marr, Gary Lowe, Shaun Byrne, Jacqui Smith, Natasha Griffiths;

Registration Matt Irons Michael King, Liz Hilton; ride marshal Caitlin Feeney;

Timing Colin Bell; BBQ Damian King, Elaine King, Andrew King, Liz Hilton)

Race day commissaires (Luke McDonough, Peter Markey, David Hendy, Simon Perry, Colin Bell)

St John Ambulance (first aid)

Lou Wolfers (photography, poster design)

Ian Skene (perpetual trophy)

Skills sessions (Kate Perry, Caitlin Feeney, Paul Meehan)

Entryboss (Colin Bell, Josh Goodall)

Finances (Sophie Katris)

SheRace (Bec Covington, Erin Ferguson)

La Velocita (Mike Boudrie)

Mich Pasmanik (photographer)

Special thanks to Colin Bell

And to all the riders and supporters who participated, spread the word, and helped build this wonderful women’s cycling community.


To see Lou’s photos, click here.

To see Mich’s photos, click here.


Alison Skene (organiser, race director, micromanager)

March 2019


womens-handicap-3  womens-handicap-2


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