It was a strange feeling packing up all the gear prepping for the STM round in Nowra. With interruptions from weather earlier in the year and then an injury, my racing season has been....well.....sparse to say the least. Suffice to say the injury forced me to re-appraise my priorities and how I "do life" and with a few tweeks I was in a much better place mentally to head into a race. Now 9 weeks since my accident and having completed 3 good weeks on the trainer with some help from cycle coach Dave Hunt, it was time to return to the race scene and see where the legs were at.
The evening before was a perfect race prep, travelling down with fellow Masters racer Ian Bridgland, we took in a practice lap and found the track had drained well and would be in great nick for the race. SCUM had put in a huge effort to prep the track and some of the new berms on the descent were just awesome, thanks guys! I spent the evening reading a cycling blog, catching glimpse's of the classic James Bond "Dr No" and soon fell asleep to the soothing calm of a light shower signalling the end of the rain (surely!?).
Sure enough the weatherman got it right and we awoke to near ideal conditions Sunday morning. The race started with the usual lead out on the fireroad and I comfortably found a spot near the rear of the lead bunch. It is in these first few minutes when you discover whether you brought your race legs and I was happy with my first effort. A errant strip of bunting diverted the lead bunch into an "hors d'oeuvre" of single track and confusion reigned for a moment, but there was nothing to be done except to hold the wheel in front and we all seemed to emerge back onto the fireroad none the worse off. It's the little surprises like this that make a race more memorable.
And so the first lap completed, I was glad to to see we were in second with a healthy buffer to 3rd. It turned out Mark Hardy wasn't so fortunate with the way the diversion worked out and he and Ben spent the entire day clawing back the 4 minutes he'd lost on the first lap. Without that bit of race luck, the end result may have been a little different.
Having the Bioathletic team there was fantastic and added a whole other dimension to those riding in a team. The option to take an ice bath in between laps and then stretch out on a roller was a great way to recover and I am sure it helped me to maintain consistent lap times all day. Thanks to Jen and the team, you rocked.
|Dave Eccles entertaining some of the lovely Choc Foot ladies in the "IceT" bath|
|A good graph showing the epic battle for all you strategists out there|
The Ellsworth Enlightenment setup with 1x10 performed beautifully on the track, still nimble in the tight corners and light as a feather up hill, but my lower back is complaining today! The Curve Cycling wheels continue to impress and have taken the bike to a new level of performance. Paired with the Rubena Kratos, steering and cornering has never been so precise and so reliable thanks to the wide profile rim.
|The 7hr Masters Pairs podium. You can actually see Mark thinking, if only I'd gone just that little bit harder!|
|The bridge added an extra fun feature at the end of the lap|
|Fi showing how it's done off a jump that launches one into orbit|
I'd also like to extend a huge vote of thanks to all the support I've received from Turramurra Cyclery over the years. My identity was practically synonymous with the Blue and White kit, (indeed many of you didn't recognise me in the new green kit from Quantum), but after nearly 8 years I reckoned it was time for a change and I'm looking forward to focussing my attention to more MTB riding together with a bunch of riders who have some similar goals to me. All I need to do now is perfect my Euro accent. I'm getting lessons by listening to Martin Wisata's staple Armin Van Buuren - State on Trance while I spin away on the wind trainers. Who knows, even I could find myself on the start line of the TransAlp one day.