MTB National Champs 2016 Part 2

BANG!

 

I stomped my right foot into the pedal and we were off. Before heading into the first lap we had a short start course to separate all the riders. This start course was one of the craziest rides I’ve ever done. There were countless puddles and I found myself weaving between crashes left right and centre. Somehow I managed to make it through without crashing, but could see that there was a group of about 10 riders who had got a gap on the field. After the fire roads we jumped onto the final 800m of the track and then it was through the start/finish line to start the first of 3 laps. I’ll give you a run down of all the features of the track now;

 

  • We started with the playground, a few drop offs, winding in and out of the pine forest.

  • Next we crossed the river and headed up into a windy track that ran parallel to the river for about 500m. It was then a tight switchback to climb up to the first fire road.

  • The first fire road felt hard, but in hindsight was the easiest of all the fire roads on the course. It was full of large smooth pebbles which made it difficult to gain traction. It climbed up to Budda Hood.

  • Budda Hood is Bright’s take on ‘Cardiac Arrest’ from Mt Stromlo. It’s not quite as steep, however makes up for that by having twice the climbing and it was super muddy for the race!

  • After Budda Hood there was a track similar to ‘The Luge’ at Stromlo. It was flowy with a fair few berms and jumps. However just as you’re finding your flow it throws you into a steep pinch, before the choice of taking the rock drop off A Line or the smoother B Line.

  • I never really wanted that track to end, not because I enjoyed it, but because after it we had two fire roads to climb. I’m not exactly sure what gradient they were, but they were very very steep. It flattened out in the middle before spiking up again.

  • The top of those fire roads led us into the next single track climb. This one was smooth and gradual. It was a good place to get a tempo going and slog it out until the top.

  • Once you got to the top there was no more climbing left. It was a long descent all the way back down to the river. The descent was very flowy with more berms and jumps, probably one of the highlights of the track for me.

  • Once we crossed the river it was just a windy track that was running through the old river bed, so full of loose rocks.

  • After that it was back through the start finish line to do it all again!

I was in the middle of a bunch through the first set of drop offs all the way up to Budda Hood. I overtook a few riders up the fire road and settled into a good rhythm. All the crashes at the start had caused a bit of mayhem to the seeding, so there was lots of overtaking to be done. Making it through all the technical sections of Budda Hood and flowing through the berm section. I punished myself up the 2 fire roads, trying to overtake a few more riders. I didn’t quite manage to get past everyone and was stuck behind a rider up the long single-track climb. This rider was then quicker then me on the descents so I was really pushing myself to keep up, I knew I could pass him on the next climb. We all flowed through the next section and started the second lap.

 

I set out on the second lap, making sure to have a drink as I crossed the line and reset my focus. I remember from my previous national level events that I tend to struggle on the second lap. My focus can drift and so as a result I don’t ride technical sections as tidy. I’m still behind rider from the last lap, so I make a real effort to get past before we go into Budda Hood. I struggle over a few of the technical sections but am still feeling good.  Pushing down the next descent and climb, I work to make the most of the small gap I’ve developed.

 

 

In front is the 2015 U15 National Champ, Charlie Todd.  This is a wheel I want to hold.  Charlie is strong, this will give me a good wheel up the climb. We hit the descent back down to the river fast.  Charlie gets a bit of a gap on me, he absolutely nails the windy section before the start finish line.

 

 

As we come across the line for the final time I sit up and take a gel. I need to make sure I don’t lose any places, and I’ll try my hardest to move up one or two. I slip around a lot on Budda Hood, but still can’t see any riders behind me. I overtake a few of the younger U15 riders and just try to ride safe through the techy bits. The remainder of the lap is pretty quiet, I struggle hard up the fire road climbs and flow down the descents. I don’t see any other riders for the rest of the lap.

 

Leaving it all on the trail, I roll across the line in 14th place. I’m so happy with this result but there’s definitely still room for improvement next year.

 

 

I need to thank all of the guys at Ride 365. Not only providing continuous mechanical support, but regularly getting out on training rides with me. My Norco Revolver came from these guys and it was running so perfectly for the event, with a service on the public holiday before the event.

Thanks for taking the time to read my race report – I love riding and racing my MTB, and I hope this comes through here.  I’m look forward to seeing you out on the trails!