This past weekend saw the Scody 2009-10 National Mountain Bike Series kick off. The opening round was held at Glenorchy MTB Park near Hobart. Pete and I made the trip over early Friday morning, entrusting our shiny new steeds to airline baggage handlers. Thankfully they made it through unscathed and we soon had them reassembled and ready for their National Series debut.
Short up, short down, long up, long down, no flat in sight describes the course pretty accurately, in a word 'tough'. At only five kilometres it was short, but 4.5 of it was singletrack and all of it was rough, rutted and rocky...not to mention the 200m of vertical climbing each lap.
Photo courtesy Tim Rowe
Saturday dawned and seven laps were on the cards for the ~35 rider Elite Mens field. Race time was going to be on the longer side and in the sunny, dry conditions staying hydrated would be critical. Pete and I both started from the fourth row of the grid and managed to hold position through the hectic mess that is an XCO race start. We rode wheel to wheel through the first lap in a bunch of about six. Pete then decided to show his strength to the bunch as we climbed out of the feed zone to start the second lap. He rode away and blew our bunch into single riders scattered along the track.
For the next four laps I rode my own race. Forcing myself to find time on the tight track to drink a bottle a lap and have a gel every two. At the start of the sixth lap this started to pay off as I picked up and went past riders until I caught Pete again at the start of the last lap. We climbed together, catching more riders until one had a mechanical failure just as we caught him forcing me to dismount. I gave Pete a push which allowed him to stay on the bike and get a bit of a gap on the tough rocky climb. Not wanting to puncture he rode conservatively on the final descent which allowed our little bunch to catch him. The tight nature of the course was never going to allow any overtaking though and we finished as the leading two riders in our bunch, wheel to wheel as we started, in 15th and 16th positions.
Photo courtesy Tim Rowe
What followed would have made for quite a comical little skit as riders took turns suffering excruciating cramps as we warmed down together and shared stories of magnetic trees that we'd only just managed to avoid...or not in some cases. Thanks of course to Apollo including support from Michelin, Easton and Prologo for the fancy new bikes. Mine certainly didn't miss a beat, to quote one impressed test rider...'boy, they're light!'