It’s been a while since I put a number on at one of the Rocky Trail Entertainment Shimano MTB GP events. But even since moving to Brisbane two years ago, it’s always great to get to one of the events run by the Martin and Juliane Wisata, who make up the husband and wife event team.
As the round at Mt Stromlo on 26th August was the final round, it seemed like that would be the one to get to once I realised I wanted to get to one a couple of months ago. And while Canberra isn’t close to Brisbane, it does have some other things going for it compared to other locations for the Shimano MTB GP.
- It’s super close to the airport.
- There’s lots to ride at Mt Stromlo.
- You always get a good race in Canberra, it’s full of hitters.
- The Elite Sprint Cup is being held the following day.
- You can see RideTechnics for some skills tweaks.
So it seemed like a no-brainer. Flights booked, hotel booked, car booked, Dylan at RideTechnics booked, race entered. Get a head cold. Oh well.
Siting here after two days in Canberra, my nose is almost peeling from sunburn. And while the sun is harsh it does take a little while to work its magic in winter down here. Brisbane is hitting 30 degrees already, so the 4 degrees at Canberra Airport on Friday was pretty fresh. But once at Mt Stromlo, the sun was warm enough for our first outdoors task – bike building. With about 650 kids skidding around at the Interschools comp, it was a feel-good start to the day.
With bikes built Imogen and I set off for a session with Dylan Cooper from RideTechnics. Just about anyone can get something from skills tuition. Imogen is working on confidence after getting caught up in a messy road crash in March, and I’m not good at most things requiring efficiency or less than two wheels squarely planted on the ground. So we worked on a few things like manualling over trail features, and variations of that – including setting up before obstacles for faster lines. Less turning, more pump and jump.
After seeing Dylan in September last year, the next time I went to Mt Stromlo (his home turf) for the AMB 100, I wasn’t fit, but Strava said I PR’d about 30+ segments that day. There are too many segments at Mt Stromlo, and I know the skills would help at home too, but I’ve ridden at Stromlo many other times when I’ve been much fitter than then (or now).
Lots was learnt, I had two crashes, one fast and one slow, and generally felt stupid (and a bit sore) with a new respect for the ball bearings of Mt Stromlo. But, bring on race day.
The Rocky Trail Shimano MTB GP
Another morning in Canberra, but colder. With the sun breaking through the early cloud by race briefing, the shivering masses were jovial, and we set off onto the 10km+ lap solo or as one of a team for 4 or 7 hours!
As stated, you’ll always get a good field in Canberra. With a collection of household names from the domestic mountain bike circuit, to previous national champions, future talent, racers heading to World Champs next month, athletes from other disciplines who ‘go ok’ on mountain bikes, and people who just love getting to Rocky Trail events, the field was a mix.
My race started ok and went backwards. Head colds aren’t great and about now I’m regretting not getting the flu shot this year. Maybe it doesn’t work. But I’d happily go back in time to try it.
The course was a different take on the usual, with some extra fire trail sections and a different, more technical descent to Slick Rock. I liked the change. I also stopped a lot, and rode 2.5hours when I finally convinced myself that more probably wasn’t better. The trails were dry, drifty, and as usual, pretty rocky!
You can get the full results here. Andy Blair won the men’s 4hr race I was in, Jenny Blair won the women’s race Imogen was in, although Imogen was 2nd which was great!
I had time to look around and appreciate the venue at Mt Stromlo, and enjoy the event atmosphere. The mix of young riders and old, and the teams that are there supporting each other is a joy to watch. The spreads people have on for the mini feedzones (all beating our four dirty bottles with some gels) are immense. The Family Pack of Tim Tams was a thought provoker. Knowing I could knock back a Tim Tam or 3 each lap would be a pretty good motivator.
Despite having the filth of a DNF all over me the day, the visit so far has been good. I’ve improved my riding, hopefully got a couple of stupid crashes out of my system, and seen some friends like Martin and Juliane. But I’ve also been to a race that matches the formula of what I really enjoyed almost 15 years ago, when the Working Week Series was kicking off. I’m not interested in racing for 8 hours in a pair anymore, and sometimes doing laps just doesn’t attract me. But seeing a huge range of riders all out and enjoying themselves, pushing to the limit they want is great. And I hope we always have events that have that.
Check out other Rocky Trail events on their website.