This race report has been provided by Fiona Dick for MarathonMTB.com
Mother Nature loves to keep riders guessing in the lead up to the annual Nowra round of the Finish Line Singletrack Mind Series with last year’s race firstly postponed due to rain, then delivering dry but windy conditions for the race. Chocolate Foot has brought Mountain Bike riders to the Shoalhaven in every edition of this popular series, now in its 5th year, but early last week it was looking like the constant rain would lead to it being washed out. Thankfully the rain eased and race day dawned bright and sunny, and the 10.8km circuit was in exceptional condition for racing thanks to the hard work of the South Coast United MTB club.
Over 220 riders from as far away as Taree and Canberra lined up at the start for 4 or 7 hours of racing in solo and relay team categories. Being the penultimate round of the series, the battles are really hotting up with many teams still vying for the overall series win.
The start saw Brian Price take the holeshot and lead the field through the early stages, ending up fourth at the conclusion of the opening lap. Price leading the 4 hour Solo men but accompanied by the 7 hour solo men’s series leader Ed McDonald and Lewis Cressy of the Onya Giant 2-man team.
Former series champion Jon Odams was intent on chasing down Price, the hunt becoming somewhat easier after Price withdrew after 2 hours. Odams taking the win while Ben Porter’s 2nd place would kick off a family double for the Porter family. Odams’ teammate Aaron Felton won the Junior category making it a good day for BikeCulture. The 4 hour Open Women was again a tough affair, round 2 winner Eva Boland got off to a great start and never looked back. Berry Mountain Cycles rider Belinda Althaus used her local knowledge to good effect securing 2nd place in front of category leader Melissa Nuttall. Ray Giddins took another win in the Super Masters, Canberra’s Darren Smith succeeded in a close race with Wayne Dickinson and the event’s only international rider Den Lui from Hong Kong made the journey well worth it with a win in the Masters women.
The 7 hour race featured some epic battles as podium positions were swapped throughout the day. The young guns in the Junior category featured some of the day’s fastest lap times, as the Alltrack Junior team dominated over the K3s and the HORCC Juniors. Other 3 person team results included Berm Baby Berm winning the Mixed 3’s, SXC Masters clawed their way back to win the Masters 3’s and featuring the talents of former Junior Downhill World Champion Ben Cory, the Onya Benny team led from start to finish in the Male 3’s.
With a number of credentialed riders not able to race round 4, this would present opportunities in the solo categories. The Open Women was missing series leader Eliza Kwan while 2nd placed rider Liz Smith chose to ride a singlespeed bike for the less hilly Nowra course. Wendy Stevenson got away to a better start but Smith inched closer each lap and passed Stevenson half way through the race and held on for the win. With one of the fancied riders in the Open Men also away, this would be good news for Nowra local Jake Whitton, who slotted into 3rd place, going on to claim his first podium position this year. Series leader Ed McDonald rode a flawless and consistent race to win by a lap ahead of Andrew Lloyd, covering over 150km in 7 and a half hours. Ian Bridgland and Garry James chalked up more wins in the Masters and Super Masters respectively. The Clydesdale category, a fun category for the “big-boned” cyclist, saw another win for a South Coast rider, Cory Dimmer from Batemans Bay.
The pairs categories always feature tight, tough racing and the Nowra course would deliver this in spades. The 3 top teams in the Masters Pairs all finished on 14 laps, Jason and Paul Morgan coming out on top ahead of Mike Israel and Michael Brown. The Female pairs was similarly tight, Rachel Blakers and Amy Fletcher completing their 12 laps just 10 minutes ahead of the Stephanie Jackson and Amanda Porter duo who were locked in a see-sawing battle with the other Chocolate Foot women’s team of Linda Corrigan and Kelly Mapleston who finished just 3 minutes back. The Male Pairs was once again a duel between Onya Giant and team McGiant; Brad Morton and Lewis Cressy taking another win and the overall win for the 7 hour race, and Cressy recording the fastest lap time of the day.
The premier Mixed Pairs category has been hard fought with Doug & Danielle Pollock and Canberra pair Brooke Rowlands and Jack Lavis trading blows throughout the series. Doug Pollock getting off to a good start while Lavis found that he’d not really recovered from recent illness. By half race time Lavis was forced to pull the pin, leaving the chase up to Rowlands who rode to the end, salvaging 2nd place for the team.
Along with all the great services that series competitors have become accustomed to from the likes of Finish Line, SRAM, James Estate, Hammer Nutrition, Kobie and Snax on Trax, the team from Bioathletic sports physiotherapy introduced riders to the value of stretching, massage and the use of foam rollers and ice baths to revitalise muscles, not only after racing but during as well. Despite it still being winter, the shallow ice bath proved incredibly popular!
The Finish Line Singletrack Mind series is supported by many more generous sponsors and this round attracted the kind support of Shoalhaven Holidays and its Sports Tourism Partners, plus SITA Australia.
The final round of the Finish Line Singletrack Mind Series will take place in the Central West’s cycling capital of Orange on 19 October. Kinross State Forest features a super fun and challenging course which has proven to be consistently popular, the perfect way to conclude a great series.
For more information and detailed results go to: www.chocolatefoot.com.au