Another 30minutes of sleep was welcome after yesterday’s blistering race. So at 6AM I was awake and ready to go, today’s race began at the old Telegraph Station, which was the first European settlement in Alice Springs in 1871! It connected Alice Springs with Adelaide and Brisbane via over-land telegram, pretty crucial to avoid the LONGGG commute for a message otherwise!
Stage two’s format was similar to an XCO race, with 4 laps of a course, however the start was a little different… The race began with a Le Mans’ start, for those not familiar, you run to your bike before beginning the race. This certainly made for a hectic start, with a surge of cyclists running across the dry sandy riverbed; before attempting to leap on bikes while careening between other riders! It was exciting, and a great way to get the lungs going before a high intensity race. My plan had been to let Henry show me the sneaky local lines on the first lap before getting away the lap after, but I found myself at the front and had no choice but to find my own way through the rocks… this came back to bite me later…
Henry and I opened up a little gap to the group behind, and then on a tight climb I opened up a gap to Henry, coming through the first lap in first position. However in the process of pushing hard to open up the gap, I forgot the biggest rule of riding in Alice, be smooth! Not long after the start finish line I plowed into a rock slab on a short uphill, and heard a huge BANG, never a good noise to hear from your bike. First I assumed a flat tyre, but when I could hear no hiss of air I thought perhaps I’d escaped unharmed. Alas, once I started descending again I could hear the tell-tale ‘kadunkadunk’ of a blown damper and top out rings. I stopped briefly to double check this was the problem, and nothing dangerous was wrong, and thankfully the rest of my bike was in one piece. But now Henry was back on my wheel, and I was bobbing around like a bobble head without lockout.
I gave it one more shot up the same climb I had on lap one, and got away, trying to stay as smooth as possible, wincing at every dunk, and kadunk, before heading out for my final lap, which was thankfully uneventful and I came into the finish some 3 minutes ahead again. Henry’s efforts in the middle of the race paid dividends and he put more time into Owen Chenhall in third.
The women had a confusing but exciting race, losing track of each other in the Le Mans start, and so had to push hard in the hope of either staying away or catching the person in front! I spoke to Nicola Jelinek, the Elite Women’s winner and leader overall:
“I was pretty nervous, I’m not much of a runner, but I seemed to do alright… the technical stuff suits me better, because I know the trails, but Briony is pretty strong on the firetrails whereas I just train when I can without much of a plan, I’m a bit like Forrest Gump!… Its a good club up here in Alice springs, good people, its a really active club.”
“Briony Mattocks finished in second again today behind local Nicola:
“That was fun, I think I started in 50th after the run leg… I actually had a good run leg, but I didn’t anticipate hurdling all the bikes to get to mine, so suddenly I found myself quite far back, and spent the first lap overtaking. But it was fun, everyone was really good with overtaking, and everyone was having a ball… Such a fun course, I rode it the other way the other day, and it was really technical, so riding it the right way today was heaps better!… The landscape out there, the odd time you look left or right, it’s unreal, so pretty.”
Unofficial standings after day 2
Sam Fox 1st, Henry Hacket 2nd +5.21, Owen Chenhall 3rd +12.49
Nicola Jelinek 1st, Briony Mattocks 2nd +7.20, Kimberly Douglass +59.05
For full results head to http://my.raceresult.com/167878/info?lang=eng