Missing the podium by 5 seconds leads to many moments of reflection as to where I could have found them over the course of a one hour and 47 minute race. I liken it to my running days where comrades would miss the hallowed sub-three hour marathon by mere moments. The realisation sinking in that they would have to put themselves through another ordeal attempting to achieve their goal. Admittedly I swore that was my last XC National race several times during the endless climbs of Bright but I’ve said that in every XC, marathon and stage race where I’ve pushed myself to the absolute limit. That’s what you say to yourself to justify the searing pain in your legs and lungs. That’s the deal you make with your body to push a few more watts out: “Just this last time, I promise, and I’ll never ask you to do it again. Okay?” I lie to my body often.
Photo credit: Pete Winfield
Last race or not, it was a cracker. Yes the medals went to the top three but the real tussle was for fourth spot apparently, between Rowena Fry, Tori Thomas and me, with not even a plastic medal as recompense. It was great fun though, actually racing, attacking, dying and then attacking again. Sometimes riders end up quite alone in a MTB time-trial situation so it was amazing to have a carrot to chase and someone snapping at my heels the whole race. The ability to flat-stick it on the short fire road climbs while disregarding the consequences once at the top, was what would win the day. Not the most open of courses the Bright parcours demanded tactical nous and maximum wattage in short bursts.
View from top of the Downhill course
While I missed the podium by seconds the real race for three Commonwealth Games spots was happening a few minutes up the road so I won’t lose much sleep over it. I think it demonstrates the effect of professionalism of the sport where the top men and women are now able to make a living racing their bikes. They’re not buying yachts for sure, but they are able to devote their lives to training and recovering which is a great sign for the sport in Australia. Surely an Aussie World or Olympic Champion is not too far away.
It definitely will not be my last time in Bright. What a pretty town with quality restaurants and coffee all within walking distance of accommodation. The mountain or road biking in the area has been a popular choice with professional riders for some time and I think it’s time I booked a training camp. Who’s keen??
A random clip of Trials...because it's cool
Thanks so much to Giant Bikes for the 27.5 Obsess. It was super agile around the many twisty corners. Ride Mechanic had my ride running clean and quiet as usual. Legs were fuelled and hydrated by Shotz Nutrition. A few nervous moments at the down-hill tarmac start but the 30 tooth XX1 was perfect for the course - cheers Sram Aus. Maxxis Ardent Race and Ikons gripped like champions - cheers KWT. And of course For The Riders, the most awesome shop ever and super-mechanic Shaun Hughes (okay I share him with Jarrod Graves, but that's kinda cool) who was on hand to do some fine-tuning.