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.