There is nothing quite as liberating as packing the car full of gear and leaving the city behind for a weekend of mountain biking. This time I had my two boys in tow, Tom and Liam for their first real MTB race, how exciting. Of course we just had to stop for dinner at the GreenGrocer in Goulburn for woodfired pizza and then finally onto Stromlo for a 10:30pm put up the tent.
The next morning revealed a gorgeous sunny day that would soon become a hot energy sapping day. Riding through smouldering grasslands from a recent backburn at the start of the first lap was not a good omen, but the legs were feeling pretty good and I was happy just to keep in touch with Garry James, now racing SuperMasters but looking as strong as an ox like always. The track was heaps of fun if you like rocks....lots of rocks...no it wasnt that bad but
I was wondering how my boys would go on this.
We soon caught up Brian "Big Dog" Price and as he wasn't racing "serious" he graciously offered his wheel for the second half of the lap. Through transition and the three of us were still together. I had a little buffer on Garry after the descent that he would gobble up on the climb.
By the middle of the second lap, the sun was really starting to burn and it became obvious I would have to top up my bottle at the on course water station. This is where I caught Liam and he looked a little dejected. I tried to lift him a little with some words of encouragement "keep going mate, you are doing so well!" which he was. He asking me how far to go and I had to admit he was just past half way, but I said if he'd had enough just to follow the dirt roads back to base. He not only finished but went on to take 4th place in Juniors at just 12 years old. He knees are back and blue today from knocking them against the frame negotiating the rocky track. It wasn't too long before I came upon Tom he looked pretty happy, just tapping away up Blue Tongue. He took third, but not before puncturing. Two very kind gentleman stopped and got him rolling again. I don't know who they were but I hope to find out, thanks guys I owe you one there!
Come lap 3 and I was really feeling it, unable to drink and eat enough my speed plummetted and just as I was wondering what kind of lead I had, a pretty fit looking guy came past me near the top. He didn't look old enough to be Masters, but there wasn't much I could do as he gapped me so I just had to keep rolling and see if I could get a second wind. A cool breeze provided slight relief, but mostly it was pretty darn hot. I was lucky enough to get the last little cup full of water at the refill station and I could see my target just ahead. On I pushed and it was up Heartbreaker where I got a little energy back and passed my competitor. Turns out it was Trent Moore, a rider I have admired and probably never beaten so with nothing but downhill to the finish (except for Blackberry) I put the hammer down to claim 2nd. Tony Rice, another legend took the top step, well done mate and of course Garry James completely dominated in the SM.
Thanks to Martin and Juliane for a fantastic race on a good challenging course. And hats off to the 100M guys, especially Ed McDonald cranking out the 5 laps and averaging 90mins a lap for the whole race, an amazing achievement!