In a time where mountain bikers are being blessed with races with events held across the country almost every weekend of the year, there are a number of marathon races during the year which are a must do for any mountain biker’s calendar. Four of these increasingly popular events have formed the basis of the inaugural 2011 XCM Series powered by Cyclenation.
In its 7th edition, the Friar’s Highland Fling needs no introduction to anyone on the Australian Marathon MTB racing scene. Participation rates have increased from hundreds in 2005, to thousands in 2011. It has grown to become the pinnacle of marathon racing in NSW and is a very worthy finale to the XCM Series. It is here, on a Sunday morning in November, where the series will be decided.
The XCM series is made up of four events with your best three results counting towards your overall ranking. With one race to go in the series, I find myself a little higher in the overall rankings than I would ever have hoped for. Many overall contenders who have only completed two of the possible four events are using the Fling as the third and final race in their series, and will undoubtedly leapfrog me. The series has been a wild ride so far and the Fling promises to be an intense battle for many category contenders.
The overall series is currently being led by Matt Fleming (Rockstar Racing) followed by Anthony Shippard (Jet Cycles/Specialized), James Downing (Lonsdale St Cyclery), Justin Morris (MarathonMTB.com) and myself rounding out the top five. A solid performance by Dylan Cooper (Trek), Ben Mather (Rapid Cycling) or Shaun Lewis (Rockstar Racing) will shake up the podium, as these riders are yet to notch up their third and final result.
Like many others, the veteran category is far from decided. I find myself with the smallest of leads over second placed Jason Morgan (Stevens Bikes) closely followed by Gavin Burland (CBD), James Collins (Trek) and Ben Fillingham. In fact the top four are all within 61 points of each other. With the series this tight, a slow transition may cost you more than just a few seconds.
MarathonMTB.com will be there in force, including in-form Graeme Arnott straight off the back of his Crocodile Trophy Masters win, who will be looking to defend last year’s win in the 100 miler.
This years Fling is shaping up to be a scintillating contest. Stay tuned for how things unfold.