“There’s some salad in the fridge, eat that.”
“Ahhh, I’m sick of salad, I need doughnutssss and steak”
I didn’t eat any doughnuts on Thursday for lunch but luckily I didn’t eat the salmonella flavoured salad packet either! Doughnuts and steak does sound delicious though. Anyway, with the salmonella disaster averted it was up to Thredbo for the 5th round of the MTBA National Series.
After missing the Pemberton rounds to stay at home and tend to my vegetable garden, I was eager to start smashing it at XCO pace again. The Thredbo course was awesome and a whole lot better than the previous editions. With the Dirt Art team at the helm of the development, the new singletrack had good flow and offered a well rounded XCO course.
I know, I know, get on with the racing! Once the gun fired, it was a full-gas, energy sapping, soul destroying, leg crushing grassy climb. One thing I hate is riding on grass, so at home I’ve been doing some efforts on grass. Maybe it was that work or something else, but I put my string of bad starts behind me and moved up to 4th wheel by the top.
Finishing off the start loop in Thredbo, I was overtaken by Kyle Ward and eventual winner Cam Ivory. Apart from sneaking past Andy Blair to maintain 5th , the first lap went pretty smooth as I sat on the back of the leading 4 and got a good tow around. Entering the second lap, I dropped off the pace and with Tasman Nankervis coming around me I dropped to 6th and that is where I remained for the majority of the 8 lap race.
It was good and also annoying to have Tasman ahead of me. Every lap I could see his orange TORQ jersey through the trees and also above me on the switchbacks but I could never close the gap. At least I had a carrot to chase and it kept me pushing the pace for the duration of the long race. Along with Tasman, I could also see the leading trio of Cam Ivory, Scott Bowden and Brendan Johnston battling it out on the open ski slopes.
Their battle would continue all the way up to the line with Cam taking the win over Scott in a close sprint finish. After sitting in 6th for most of the race, I dropped down to 7th on the final few kilometres to a flying kiwi, Gareth Cannon. While I was a little closer to the top of the crop, I wasn’t there yet, but with a solid race under my belt it shows I’m on the right track!
Slight detour to a sour note…
My race ended after 1:52hr on course, dropping 5min to Cam in the lead (1:47). While still in the expected range for a Category 2 XCO event (1:30-2:00hrs), it’s still pretty extreme. It maybe should have been 7 laps to keep it a little similar to the way XC races are around the rest of the world (i.e. 1:30hrs). It’s a new course and lap times are hard to gauge, but when 4/5 National races have been 1:40hr+ it might be something to consider.
And yes, 10-20 mins extra does make a difference to how a race is raced. Overall results probably wouldn’t have changed much. But if national races are stepping stones to bigger things it would be good if they resembled them as closely as possible.
Anyway, apart from that, the racing was still awesome to be a part of and the new trails around Thredbo were a lot of fun to ride and race on! Luckily, as this weekend I’m back up in the mountains for the Snowies MTB Festival and three days of epic MTB action!