The first installment of the 2012 XCM Series, brought to us by Cyclenation and Real Insurance, was a fantastically well-run event and a perfect introduction to the most anticipated marathon season Australia has to offer.
The Wombat 100 by Maximum Adventure took in the singletrack in the Woodend & Cammeray Waters regions, cleverly linked together to form a challenging race. It was the first time I had ridden in the area, and after a reccie run on the day before the race, I was a little apprehensive of how well things would pan out on race day. The singletrack was dry and required skill to ride fast – keeping up with team mate Nick Both was a struggle as I ran wide on corners and over-braked on others. Luckily a small amount of rain overnight moistened the track and converted what was a tricky trail the day before to a tacky trail, filling the bike and body with cornering confidence.
The race started with an unusually slow pace. The main contenders appeared to be watching each other waiting for someone to break. Things changed when the first singletrack section was in sight – riders started jostling for position and marking others. I slotted in somewhere near the back to conserve energy knowing that any marathon is hard, especially one you’re not familiar with.
The first 45km was spent yo-yoing up and down the field. With no hills to speak of, time lost in singletrack had to be made up on fireroad. By the half-way point, I was working well with Fitzroy Revolution rider Ashley Hayat and moved quickly through to the major climb of the day. It was at this point when Ashley opened up the afterburners and promptly dropped me like the proverbial sack. With only 20km to go I was on my own, but I was comforted knowing that it was all downhill from here on. I put the head down and picked off a few riders of my own, but the next time I saw Ashley was back at Cammeray Waters.
The race went unexpectedly smooth given my apprehension the day before. One aspect of the race I noticed most and which was especially pleasing, was that the 50km field was well spread by the time the front end of the 100km riders came through. This makes it easier for those racing for top positions, and less stressfull for those wanting to enjoy the trails. Well done to the race organisers.
I did learn that there aren’t the equivalent of F1 pit girls handing out bottles as the elite riders speedily race by. No, you actually have to stop and find the bottle yourself. I had trouble even remembering to stop at two of the three drink stations! Clearly I was spoilt at the Kona Odyssey by super swanny Chris Hellman who was picking me out of a racing crowd and graciously hand delivering me bottles. Fancy a trip to Canberra and then St Alban’s in the coming weeks Chris?
Four days until we do it all again! Be sure to return to see how things unfold in the nation’s Capital Punishment!