Thursday, August 6, 2015

Wow! What a month! This year will not be noted for it’s logical and uninterrupted training blocks. In the past I’ve hated turning up to races unprepared but I miss the atmosphere so much that I can’t be too picky about form at the moment. It’s the only time I get to catch up with the crowd before I jet off for another MTBA junior camp. I’m spending a lot of time on the bike at camps but, sadly, track standing and popping wheelies doesn’t really prepare one for long distance racing.

It’s been a festival of QLD events and I have enjoyed racing in my home state. Here’s a recap!


Strangely, I hadn’t raced this event before. It started as a December event but was consistently rained out so it’s now become ‘Christmas in July’ for mountain bikers, complete with delicious roast meal on Saturday night. The format is a Saturday afternoon 3 hour race and a late Sunday morning 3 hour on a different course. Changing the course up was a nice option and the Hiddenvale park definitely have some fun and challenging trails to choose from.

I’m not really a camper so chose the 1 hour drive back to Brisbane to sleep in my own bed. For those who stayed it was an exciting night with a small tornado sweeping through the village with icy westerly winds. Once the registration tent was rescued things went smoothly for the following day of racing although a few more layers were required. We can’t complain about our very mild winter in Queensland though and more southerners should make the trip up for a fantastic event.

Campers keeping toasty warm

The biggest appeal is the family-friendly nature with a kids event, jumping castle and wide, safe, open spaces for children to roam. My (non-riding) daughter pointed to kids on bikes and asked if they were racing. I said “No, they’re just riding – that’s what some kids do!”
I felt surprisingly good on Saturday and did enough to get a lead on second place, conscious of saving something for the following day. Not really having the fitness to back up, Sunday was a struggle but I still managed to take the win, and a bottle of Moet for my troubles. After surviving the loose trails I then almost did myself an injury hoisting the enormous perpetual trophy.

It's heavier than it looks!


I raced ‘The Push’ in 2012 and managed to win over local, and former road team mate, Ruth Corset on her home course. It would be a battle with her again after her honing her MTB skills in the intervening years.  Currently leading the National Road Series she was definitely not lacking in the fitness department.
The main reason for travel to Townsville was for assist local club coaches to develop their junior squad and skills sessions so we were kept busy for the two days leading into the event. Townsville has some great MTB parks close to town such as the Pallarenda trails and the Douglas Reserve where there is also a skills park complete with pump track and see-saw.  Having trails close to the city is vital for young riders so they can ride often on familiar trails. It encourages the parents to get out too and I saw many families out shredding together.

Tim got me out super early but it was worth it - Pallarenda sunrise

The best thing I did for my race form was to have no time or desire to train since the 3 Plus 3 so freshness was on my side. Feeling pretty comfortable after two hours I finally got a gap on Ruth. I didn’t attack as much as the guy who had been blocking me on the singletrack for the entire race finally got over his ego and he let me pass. Riding that section of freshly cut, loose, off-camber at my own pace helped me keep the gap which grew to 4 minutes by the finish line.

This race has really grown and sold out with over 700 riders. Apparently there is room to open it up to more entries but the club are not sure how many more they can handle without getting swamped. I hope they do allow more entries as it really is a top course now and I hope more riders travel from outside the area to have a go at The Push.

Rockwheelers Junior program is pumping!


Mackay is like a greener version of Townsville – flat in the immediate area but with sizeable bergs about an hour from town where they like to hold their major race of the year. With almost 2500m of climbing in 80k the Mackay Marathon wasn’t going to be easy. Turning up fatigued and then spending two full days on the bike running a junior camp definitely didn’t help matters. But that’s the main reason I was there and the race was going to be a bonus and one that I hadn’t done before.

I told fellow camp coordinator, Peter Lister, I wanted two things from the weekend – to ride through the tree featured on all the race websites, and to see the platypus the area is famous for. He came good on both counts and it took us around 15 seconds to spot our first monotreme and I got to see the second close up on the viewing platform.

Starting the junior camp at Mackay Christian College I was able to cut loose on their skills park. There’s nothing like the pressure of riding your first see-saw when 12 year old kids are doing it. Moving up to Eungella for the remainder of the camp the riders camped while I was treated to a cabin with the most incredible lookout. I could imagine coming up for a weekend without having to suffer through a 4.5 hour race. Apparently some people do that.

Now secretly addicted to seesaws

It’s always disappointing turning up to a long race completely cooked and knowing it from the first ten minutes. My legs were telling me I’d done too much in the lead up and then I put them through several more hours of damage. It was great to see Ruth Corset in her element with the relentless rolling fireroads and take the win over a strong Sara White while I grovelled to 3rd.

View from my cabin at Eungella

I’ll be honest and say there is A LOT of fireroad but it does finish with 10ks of rainforest walking track with is closed to walkers just for the race. It really is spectacular and offers some of the best views and a true taste of the area.
The camp was fantastic and the riders fronted up to the shorter races a little fatigued but rode really well with their new skills and race tactics. It didn’t seem to hurt Zac Larsson or Kiah Dumigen who took out the 38k and 15k respectively.

Slightly cooked group - big 3 days!


So I’m about to fly to Europe for a month on Saturday. People keep asking me what if I’m packed and I start laughing hysterically.  Being responsible for the Australian Under 19 team is a lot more stress-inducing that traveling for my own racing but I’m looking forward to helping the young riders perform on the world stage. There might also be some early rides on the cards for the coach.

THANKS: Liv Australia, Shotz, For The Riders, Ride Mechanic, NS Dynamics, Maxxis, Mackay MTB Club, Townsville Rockwheelers Club