Yes! My first solo victory, actually there's not too much to write here, but I couldn't let the occasion pass without so much as a blog post.
I got home at a very respectable hour, I even avoided the toll road. Getting home I quickly cracked open a celebratory beer and began preparing a mean butter chicken for dinner.
The race itself was really fun, well derrrr, I mean I know MTB is fun, but this time it was different. You have to take into account that I was only here because the previous weekend, things didnt quite go to plan and I felt a little...well..."ripped off" and as they say, what do you do if you fall off a horse? You get back on. So it was important for me to get back on the race bike and give it another shot. Martin and Juliane also run a great event and now that Football season is over and Saturday's are free I wanted to support these guys and get to at least one of their races.
The course at Mt Annan is really good. I had heard mixed reports of it being too rough, no flow, just another cookie cut MTBA course. But honestly, I really enjoyed riding this course. It has a little bit of everything and rewards those who ride smooth (that's code for someone who never get's out of the saddle and rolls into sharp corners!) There are a few nice little pinchy climbs, plenty of logs and stuff to roll over, a scary looking rocky drop off that isnt really that scary at all, some rock gardens, some berms, some bridges. It's a neat course and it rolls fast as it was really dry. The track is hard packed clay and you can see why the manager closes the track at the first sniff of rain. At about the half way point there is a downhill section with three big sweeping turns and every lap was a challenge to see how fast I could descend and how far I could lean the bike into these corners. I also love the fact that quite a bit of the course is open grassland so not only does it look cool, seeing a whole gang of riders steadily making their way around the snaking course, but you can sometimes check who's behind and the way RockyTrail do race numbers, it isnt too hard to work out if someone close to you is in your category.
The other fact worth mentioning was the whole vibe of the race was quite different to some others I've been to recently. Whilst everyone is riding at the best, noone was bothered by my wanting to pass and I didnt have to wait a single second all day. People were cool and encouraging as I rolled past after a friendly call of "rider back". I could say more but I wont harp about about this facet of racing, more than enough has been said already. I did have a chuckle near the end of the race when a keen bean from Ashfield Cycles team came rushing up behind Big Dog and I. I managed to time it so he got past me just before the big rocky descent and sure enough half way down as all three of us are leaping off rocks that seemed at an impossibly steep angle, he calls "track"! Dude, are you serious? Well maybe he just wanted to let Brian know he was there, but we did have a chuckle about it after the race.
Nutrition was good (Hammer gels and Heed did the trick again), the start was well..interesting as I found myself atleast 10 rows back and passed alot of riders in the first k of fireroad, I guess they were pacing themselves???
My Giant 29er Anthem is a pleasure to ride and every time I race it I fall in love with it a little bit more. It is just so reliable and easy to ride. The new Shimano XT groupset is absolutely a world apart from some other drivetrains I have had to contend with lately. The RockShox are a little hard for my liking, I'd love to go back to the oh so plush Fox RLC29 but there you go you cant have it all. The rear shock might seem like a luxury in a race like this, but I dont feel like it really slows me down and it suits my style of riding giving me just that little bit of travel in the middle setting all day. Racing Ralphs rolled fast on the clay and gave me the bite I needed on some of the loose corners.
So there you go, 6 years of racing and my first top step on the podium. Let's see if I can do it again?