Saturday, February 14, 2009

National Series Round 4 - Mt Buller

Writing retrospectively about the race at Mt. Buller is a bit surreal, considering the devastation from the bushfires in Victoria since then. I passed through the town of Wittlesea during my trip (due to a 140km detour – I have no sense of direction) and can attest to how dry and hot it was the weekend I was there. This expanse of brown with temps around 46 degrees a week before the ‘black Saturday’. Needless to say I spent most of my time there in my hotel room in 24 degree comfort, also making use of the spa and pool facilities – there are some perks to the travel!

My accommodation was at the bottom of the mountain so I drove daily to Mt. Buller village for practice, which was around 7pm when it was still 30 degrees. On the day of the race the bitumen had melted and I could feel it sticking to the tyres of the rental car.

They say you don’t get what you deserve, but what you expect. Well I expected to be tired and have an average race and guess what…? It was 36 degrees for our race and the course was twisty with plenty of climbing. The dust was black and at the end of the race you looked like you’d been rolling around in a campfire. At 1500m the altitude had an effect on those of us living at sea level, which we also get when racing in Thredbo.

Finishing 7th it was my worst result of the year but I narrowly extended my series lead and planned to have a week off training – my first in two years. The initial couple of days were the hardest then I settled into it, enjoying the sleep-ins, extra energy at work and lack of grumpiness. My daughter wondered who I was and what I had done with her mother J

The next and final round is in Glen Orchy, Tasmania which I am chuffed about. Tassie one place I have been dying to visit for about ten years, so to race there will be fantastic.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

National MTB Titles - Canberra 25th Jan 09

Heading to Canberra I was a bit apprehensive about how the body was recovering. Backing off the volume and just working on short periods of intensity I hoped to avoid a repeat of Ballarat. The Mt. Stromlo track is one of the most technical tracks and the course used for Nationals is the same as the World Cup course I raced last September where I finished 7th and first Aussie.

Arriving on Friday morning I headed straight out to the course to cut a couple of laps before the midday heat. The main talking point was the second of two scratchy descents - the Hammerhead. Being the so-called 'A line' it is the most direct way down and the quickest - if you survive! The 'B line' was also pretty sketchy and longer. I had a small crash there (see, I'm now rating my crashes) in practice, just picking the wrong line and not paying enough attention. Although many people were riding the rock-face drop-off of the Hammerhead (a lot of them unsuccessfully I may add), I went with high percentage riding...ok, I wussed out.

After another couple of laps on Saturday afternoon and a relaxing and at times hilarious dinner with friends that night, I was feeling good for race day on Sunday at 11am. The coolest day in Canberra of our stay, it was perfect racing conditions. The start was fast, beginning on the bitumen criterium circuit before climbing the fireroad and into the singletrack ascent. After locking bars with another rider and ending up in the dirt I settled into 6th spot and started to work my way into the race.

By the second and third laps Zoe King and I were having a good tussle for third place with some friendly shouldering in the single-track - all good practice for Europe! By the fourth and final lap I'd pulled away and looked good for the bronze before almost being brought down by a kangaroo which bounded into my front wheel. I can't complain that MTB racing is boring!

Grabbing third place and getting the opportunity for another champers-shower from Rowena Fry on the podium was a great buzz near the end of a solid domestic season. I now fly back to Brisbane in time to see my daughter off for her first day in Year 1, before travelling to Mt Buller for another national round in 6 days.