While the roadies have been pinning a number on for a couple of months now this weekend gone saw the MTB team make our debut. PeterK and I ventured down to Anglesea for Southern Exposure's Surfcoast 6hour. This event is unique for being the only six hour event that runs into the night. The format is obviously proving quite popular with record numbers entered.
4pm came and the instructions from the race director was for solo riders to start first with a delayed start for team riders. With the relaxed vibe that goes with racing next to the beach I stood off to the side to watch the solo start. That was great, until there didn't seem to be many riders left and it became apparent that the start orders were being ignored. Everyone going on the first start! What followed was an exercise in patience as I looked for gaps to get past the 300+ riders that were in front of me.
We'd identified Felt Racing as our primary competition for the day. While we both had started at the back of the bunch Felt's rider had obviously been a little more aggressive in his passing maneuvers and I handed over to Pete almost three minutes down already. Over the next three hours lap times stayed consistent, transitions were smooth and we kept the pressure on. Felt's lead was just over four minutes as darkness fell.
This is where the tide started to turn, our conservative riding in the lap traffic appeared to be paying off. Our lap times stayed steady under lights while other teams started to slow. It was with an hour to go while I was riding our 11th lap that I spied a familiar flashing tail light up ahead. Not long later the catch came and it was race on, five hours down and we were riding wheel to wheel.
For the next 15 minutes we rode together, not wanting to put all our cards on the table, trying to gain an insight into how the other was feeling. As we cornered onto the main fire road climb I upped the tempo a little bit, got a gap and decided to go for it. I handed over to Pete around a minute clear and he ripped the track apart recording the fastest night lap of any rider for the whole race.
He came in with 10 minutes left on the clock, assuming Felt would also come through before the end of the race I headed out for lap 13. In the end it wasn't needed as Felt didn't chase, calling it a night on 12 laps. A wise move as well as it was during that lap that the rain came. Oh how I was wishing to be back under the marque clean, dry and warm. I crossed the line at 10.25pm to take the honours in the Male Pairs and the Overall. Quite satisfied to finish a lap up on the rest of the field.
Thanks to Southern Exposure for running a slick event once again, very enjoyable. Even racing at threshold is relaxing with cliff top views of the ocean as you ride. Thanks to Michelin for the excellent XC DryII tyres and latex tubes. We knew by looking at them that they'd be fast, what Pete and I were both surprised by was the amazing amount of grip they had in the loose, sandy conditions. Of course thanks also go to Apollo Bikes for allowing us the opportunity to do this mtbing thing that we both enjoy so much. See you on the trails!