Looking at the schedule before the Snowies MTB festival started, I was unaware just how quickly 5 stages of racing could make 3 days disappear. Every day seemed to be action packed with either eating, warming up, or going full gas through exhilarating alpine singletrack!
The final day of racing involved a return trip down the Thredbo Valley Trail from Thredbo to Lake Crackenback followed by a quick rest before the 45km Release the Cracken Marathon, taking in the majority of trails around Lake Crackenback.
After climbing up the Thredbo Valley Trail on yesterday’s stage, I was wondering how it would compare riding in the opposite direction, as most two-way trails seem to have more ‘flow’ in one direction than the other. Whether it be the shape of the berms or the way the rollers pump you along, it’s hard to tell why one direction has flow and the other doesn’t.
At the end of the stage, I’d have to say they both rode incredibly well with the uphill direction of stage 2 having more ‘flow’. Although maybe that’s just because I wasn’t feeling well on stage 4, and it was more my own ‘flow’ that was lacking as opposed to the sweeping alpine singletrack that snaked and weaved itself along the banks of the Thredbo River that lacked flow.
Either way, as was the theme for the weekend, I didn’t have time to ponder any longer as the 45km marathon loomed large on the horizon. With an accumulated total race time of roughly 2:30hrs already completed and an expected race time of 2:30hrs for the marathon, it could be seen as though we were only half way through the race! This meant the overall classification was far from locked in, and any mistakes or problems could incur a significant shuffling of places.
Thundering upon the start climb was the Man from Snowy River’s sounds,
hoofs collided with the stones, followed by mountain bikers far around,
fixated upon the tales of bravery, told loud by those renowned,
the riders thought of glory, of how their names would sound,
sung out by commentators, proclaiming the best they’d found.
They knew the mountains would speak true, for only the best could pass through
to test the best of qualities, only the best would do,
of trials and tribulations cast upon those waiting few,
waiting for their chance, their chance to shine like who,
the poems had been inked to paper, and sung about to you.
The Man from Snowy River, of fearlessness so game
that no man ever dare compare, or to add a name
beside those lofty heights of praise, that gifted so rightly fame
Set upon the audacious path he waged, of which he did so boldly claim
down that far side mountainside, like a candle to its flame.
A winner would be crowned tonight,
To be forever glowing bright,
Once the blood and pain set right,
A winner would be crowned outright.
The very best had come to fight.
Slight dramatisation and the facts were slightly construed; I think all I was thinking about was Kyle’s rear wheel as we headed up the start climb! But, the last stage was truly a test, with a ferocious headwind on one part of the course and an undulating singletrack test that had everything from small technical features to steep punchy climbs. For the majority of the first lap I was just trying to hang on to Andy and Kyle as they fought each other for the overall.
With a 1:30min gap to make up, Andy was trying hard to force a gap, but Kyle stuck to his wheel and showed why he had that 1:30min gap. Around the middle lap of three I dropped off the duo and set about grovelling home to hold 3rd. I heard I had a large gap back to 4th but with the speed I was creeping around the track I thought it wouldn’t be long till I had some company. Thankfully I held out to within a few kilometres to go when Lewis Cressy caught me and quickly dropped me! Those last few kilometres took an eternity as I desperately tried to minimise the time loss. Crossing the line, I had held onto 3rd overall, although all I was thinking about was my cramping legs!
At the end of the weekend, I was certainly impressed by how the event was run and won. Kyle rode an awesome race and was well deserving of the victory. As was Samara Sheppard in the women’s race. The race organisers did a great job in running the event and in only its second year it will surely continue to grow. From staying at the awesome Lake Crackenback resort to sampling the Snowy mountains trails and atmosphere, this was a race I was certainly glad to tick off! See you at the next one!