The 2014 Subaru Australian National Mountain Bike Champs would be held in Bright, Victoria, after having held a round of the national circuit last year with most riders happy with the course. The course changed slightly for the better this year, with a bit faster and more open start and some more of Bright’s best single track. The main climb of the course had a lot of variation with steep pinches up single track and wider tracks, interspersed with fast traverses across the ridge. The descent was not overly technical and was mainly fast single track with some tight and twisty corners.
Racing at home did mean I would have more time on the course than most people, but it also meant I could become complacent with my pre-race routine and my preparation leading up to the race. A week before, I did a race simulation and tried to match everything as closely as possible as to what I would do on race day, from food hydration, pacing on course and setting up my awesome Bianchi Methanol 29er. This session gave me a bit of confidence on how I was riding on the course. In this situation it is hard to gauge, when riding on your own, how hard to push. Especially on tracks that you ride often, you can get a certain speed in your head and that speed can stick with you. If you ever wanted a good example of when Strava is a worthwhile endeavor this is it. Comparing yourself to others on Strava is pretty pointless on the mountain bike. This is especially true in Bright, with such a thick tree canopy and tight single track. There is just way too much variation in GPS data. This anger is probably coming from losing KOMs to annoying people and their phone GPSs! But moving on, comparing your times against your previous times is a great training tool and something I use regularly to monitor my training.
Saturday’s XCO started well, with a top 10 position in the leading group and feeling good. On the second lap, though, another rider fell in front of me on some roots and I turned sharply to avoid him, burping my tyre in the process and going down. I was back on and didn’t think I had lost enough air from my tyre to warrant a squirt from my CO2 canister. Silly me! A few seconds later, I went through a ditch and at the bottom, the tyre folded and as I went to roll out my wrist blew off and I fell off the back of the bike. I hit my rear tyre and a particular set of my anatomy met my seat! I went down very quickly and stayed there for a long time. I went to get up a few times but I wasn’t going anywhere! Painfully I did stagger onto my bike and got going only to have to stop again to not only pump up my front but also my rear tyre. I tried to put it behind me and get on with the race though, and had an alright third lap, pushing hard but not riding like I had the previous week. By the end of the race, I had moved up from 19th on lap two to 15th. Post race analysis confirmed what I was thinking; that I was nowhere near the times I had put down the previous week. Even on the first lap when I was feeling ok. Although not the race I wanted, I did learn a few things and am looking forward to the Oceania’s in New Zealand this weekend. Big thanks to Mike at MarathonMTB.com and the guys over at Subaru Australia for their help so far this year. Another big thanks to Mark Fenner at Ftp training.