All images: Ian Moses IC Photography
With a number of firsts to mark the opening round of the Finish Line Singletrack Mind series at the Wylde MTB trails, it was always destined to be a significant event. It would be the first state-level event at the new Wylde MTB trail at Cecil Hills, built and managed by the Western Sydney Parklands Trust, this purpose designed facility has been a hit with mountain bikers from right across Sydney since it opened late last year. The event would also play host to the Evocities MTB series and is the only metropolitan round of the series and the first time that two state-level MTB series have been run concurrently at the same event. “It’s fantastic to have a such a high quality race venue close to the demographic centre of Australia’s largest city. We hope that Wylde will entice a whole new generation of city kids to take up the sport” said Race Director Joe Ward.
It was a winning formula with riders as over 300 signied up and they would also be graced with perfect racing conditions. Light rain damped down the course in the days prior giving the mostly clay based, 12 Km long track plenty of grip, while race day dawned sunny and clear.
The race kicked off at 8.30am and solo riders and teams would attempt to complete as many laps as possible, either in the 4 hour or 7 hour Evocities race. The start and opening few laps were dominated by Sydney’s John Odams who established a lead early and led the 4 hour Solo Male category for 3 hours until a moment of inattention caught out the highly experienced rider, crashing and injuring his thumb. This would hand victory to Andrew Arthur with Michael Clark in 2nd. The 4 hour Open Women saw Melissa Nuttall get off to a slow start but over the 4 hour period of the race she would claw her way back, getting to within 4 minutes of Briony Mattocks. Scott Harrison had a close battle with Tim Morris in the Masters Men and Veronica Russell took victory on the Masters Women.
With a huge prize purse on offer, the 7 hour Evocities categories would be hotly contested. After winning round 1 at Orange, all eyes would be on Canberra’s Eliza Kwan in the Solo Female category. She made a good start, hitting the lead early over Wollongong’s Liz Smith who would gain on her rival but never catch her after over 7 hours of tough racing.
With a multiple time World Champion in the mix the Solo Men was always going to be a tough battle for the major contenders for the category. Jason English, the Solo 24 Hour World Champion and winner of Round 1 of the Evocities series has shown that he can win at long or relatively short races like the 4 hour Ginga Ninja, the 7 hour format of the Finish Line Singletrack Mind series would better suit his incredible endurance. A leading pack formed during the first lap, consisting of Andrew Lloyd, Jason English, Callum McNamara and Ed McDonald, and by the end of the 2nd lap English had to stop to repair a slowly leaking rear tyre, handing his competition a 40 second advantage. But with a relatively clear track ahead and his cool, calm demeanour he just got on with the job of chasing them down and within 1 lap he’d done just that, triggering an attack from Lloyd who gained over a minute lead at 3 hours into the race. “There’s no definite attack, it’s just a relentless pace which becomes a bit too hard to hold on to” remarked Ed McDonald, explaining how Jason English turns the screws on his competition. McDonald experienced some dark moments during the race including a crash in the transition straight but he refocussed on the job to climb back from 4th place into 2nd behind English which he held to the end.
Other solo categories saw a breakthrough win for Jason Morgan in the Masters Men, the Masters Female went to Catherine Wood. The Super Masters categories saw Wendy Stevenson and Peter Selkrig rack up yet more wins.
The Mixed Pairs saw a close battle between married couple Doug and Danielle Pollock and Canberra’s Tristan Webber and Eva Boland. The lead swapped multiple times throughout the day, Danielle sighting her opposition close behind her on the final lap giving her motivation to power home for the win. The effort well worth it as they were rewarded with a $3300 sunset flight package from Evocities category sponsor Fly Orana.
The Female Pairs category was packed with credentialed teams making it a tough day out for all, positions changing throughout the day but Emily Cunningham and Amanda Porter of Sneaky Bacon Racing the best at race finish while Erica Galea and Marisa Bertoia of Short Circuit Cancer and Chocolate Foot’s Stephanie Jackson and Linda Corrigan battled for the minor places, just 3 minutes the difference after 7 hours racing. The Men’s Pairs featured a dominant display from Mike Cameron and Peter Fisher of Over Yonder Racing winning by over a lap from David Bell and Dean Quince.
The TORQ/Merida team of talented young guns had a great race and were the only team to better Jason English overall. Ben Metcalfe, Tristian Ward and Josh Battye covered 168km between them in 7 hours.
Competitors were rewarded with over $18,000 in cash and prizes from Finish Line, SRAM, Rockshox, Avid, Truvativ, Hammer Nutrition, G8 Performance, Fly Orana, James Estate, Aussie Butt Cream, and Mountain Biking Australia Magazine.
The Finish Line Singletrack Mind Series moves to Wingello in the Southern Highlands for Round 2 on 28 June and the Evocities MTB series heads inland to Bathurst on 31 May.
For more information and detailed results go to: www.chocolatefoot.com.au
For more information on the Evocities MTB Series go to: www.evocitiesmtb.com