Warrnambool rider Jim Dart ready to take on the Camperdown to Warrnambool Bill Long Handicap

GEARING UP: Warrnambool Veterans Cycling Club rider Jim Dart is looking forward to a good race in the Bill Long Memorial handicap on Saturday. Picture: Rob Gunstone
GEARING UP: Warrnambool Veterans Cycling Club rider Jim Dart is looking forward to a good race in the Bill Long Memorial handicap on Saturday. Picture: Rob Gunstone

JIM Dart is the first to admit his preparation for the Camperdown to Warrnambool veterans’ handicap race hasn’t been as good as it could have been.

An enjoyable – but perhaps not ideally-timed – holiday and a reluctance to hit the streets on his bike during a cold winter have led to a “patchy” build-up to the race, but a training program that started in early March should hold him in good stead regardless.

The 63-year-old will be competing in the veteran’s event for the fourth time and finished with the leading bunch – just six seconds behind the overall winner – in his most recent race in 2015.

“It’s the end of a season … it’s basically the main event, but you’re preparing all the time, riding other events,” Dart said.

The course – “none of it’s straightforward”, Dart said – sees competitors start from Camperdown’s Commercial Hotel, with a hill soon greeting them en route Cobden.

They’ll then have to navigate the steep hills near the Laang Speedway, before emerging near Allansford and riding the highway down to Raglan Parade’s finish line.

“Once you come of out the bush at Naringal, it can be a different game again,” Dart said. “Often it’s a headwind.”

The Warrnambool rider will stick around after his race to watch the completion of the Melbourne to Warrnambool Cycling Classic – a race he competed in 21 times in a row from 1975 to 1995, following in the footsteps of his father, who competed in 36.

EXPERIENCED CAMPAIGNER: Warrnambool Veterans Cycling Club rider Jim Dart has competed in three Camperdown to Warrnambool Bill Long Handicap races and 21 Melbourne to Warrnambool Cycling Classics. Picture: Rob Gunstone

EXPERIENCED CAMPAIGNER: Warrnambool Veterans Cycling Club rider Jim Dart has competed in three Camperdown to Warrnambool Bill Long Handicap races and 21 Melbourne to Warrnambool Cycling Classics. Picture: Rob Gunstone

Dart finished runner-up in his first year and third in his last, with another third-placing in 1983.