Rain delays and flooded trails
The adventures of today actually started at about 5pm yesterday when the rain started to fall. A sprinkle at first became a howling mountain gale that raged through the night. The stiff wind blew the clouds eastward by morning, but the system had dropped over 100mm of water on the Thredbo trails, which National Parks duly closed, thwarting the planned descent on the Valley Trail.
Not only that, the riverside trails at Crackenback had been submerged and replaced with white water rapids, so In2Adventure were left with a few problems to solve.
The response from riders was universally understanding and supportive. I took Mike birdwatching while organisers sorted everything out. The only downside to being here at Lake Crackenback for a bike race is the FOMO for hiking, birdwatching, fishing… so it was cool to get out on foot for an hour or so! (And for those interested spotted a gorgeous superb fairy wren, brown thornbills, and silvereyes.)
New stage 3 announced
Before too long In2Adventure posted a solution: we’d race an XC style short course this afternoon and tackle the Snowy Legends Descent (formerly stage 3) on Sunday morning when the trails dry out. For me this was terrible news – no marathon stage and (oh the horror) another short, high intensity afternoon stage (FYI I am not particularly good at this). Being a highly experienced racer I of course dealt with this with utmost maturity and declared I was quitting bike racing, nibbled my way miserably through some toast, got ready late, failed to practice the track adequately (but resolved to ride all the B lines), then trudged to the start line sporting a very sad face.
Today’s revised track took in a large part of the time trial course from yesterday in reverse, with sweeping berms, rougher sections, a technical, twisty patch reminiscent of a cyclocross course, plus some open flat sections. While you might think that mud would be the problem after so much rain, the track handled that well, with just a few puddles. The really decisive factor out there was the wind, which riders could hear ripping through the treetops on the other side of the valley, and which tore across some sections of the track, making racing as tactical as it was technical.
And me? Well I rode into it thanks to the amazing racing among the women’s field and had a wonderful time. I came fourth, I won’t be quitting bikes and have again learnt that you never know what you’re capable of, but that you definitely have more fun when you try. A typical race day really!
Zoe Cuthbert lead the women’s race, as Bec McConnell was a close 2nd with Em Viotto in 3rd. Dan McConnell won the men’s race with Jon Odams playing the bridesmaid again, and Ben Henderson snatching 3rd position.
Gearing up for the grand finale
It’s kind of fitting that the Snowy Legends Descent is taking place on the final day of racing because it really is the stage everyone has been anticipating. The wind and the sun are working their magic on the trails even as a I write this, so it’s looking to be a day of hero dirt and some of the best descending the Snowies have to offer. And massive kudos to In2Adventure and Snowies MTB riders for handling a tricky situation and again delivering fun, competitive racing.