Saturday night was spent over at Director Sportif’s house watching Simoni and the rest of the 2003 Giro’s main contenders take on the Zoncolan over Pizza. He lives a lot closer to the You Yangs than me, so it meant a not so stupid early alarm Sunday morning.
A warm up lap with the Director to tweak my tyre pressures and a few tips on the course. He’s ridden the You Yangs for a long time and could easily get around on a pitch black night without a lighting system.
I get myself on the front of the start line and we’re off! I’m somewhere around 6th wheel as we hit the single track of trail 2. Not ideal as I’m sensing the two guys in front are about to have their elastic break. It’s that youthful snap out of the start that I don’t have is the problem. Something to work on. I don’t panic as I watch the gap get bigger leading into the pinch on trail 4. I pick my way past without incident and proceed to chip away at getting to the head of the race. I arrive somewhere on the road of trail 1 as it climbs to the highest point on course. There are two riders, Tim & Jimmy with Tim on the front. I sit 3rd wheel to recover. We stay like this, Tim, Jimmy, myself to the end of trail 14. On the road I’m ready to roll turns but Jimmy doesn’t come through. Do you roll turns in a XC race? The race is young and I’m all for the three of us staying away for the day so I come to the front to do a turn. The order changes by the time we get to the fast technical down of trail 13. I’m happy to follow at the start but as the descent goes on I find it distracting following wheels closely and decide to give myself a good bike length or two as a buffer.
Lap 2 is a blur and ends with me touching dirt on the sandy corner just before the start\finish. I watch Jimmy from the dirt and I’m snapped back into the race by the memory of watching Emma C touch dirt on a wet Forrest Saturday. She was like a Ninja that’d had way too much RedBull as she sprang back onto her bike. I wasn’t so sprightly but it’s the quickest I’ve ever recovered from an off. I’m back up to speed, get fed by the Director, and methodically start clawing my way back up to Jimmy. I reach him on the road up to trail 13 and let him lead it. Coming up to the 1st rock garden I back off to give myself room and on the exit Jimmy crosses the bars and into the dirt. “FARK, ARE YOU OK!” As I fight to pull up and not into him in the middle of the trail. He’s grabbing his calf. “I’m OK, I’ve cramped, keep going”… So I do and try not the think about what has just happened and get my mind back on riding.
Through the Feed Zone again and out for lap 4. This is the ‘Traffic lap’ with other classes out on course. I get most of the traffic around trail 4 & 6, a little more on 14. By the time I get to 13, it’s thankfully clear.
Last lap now and I still can’t see any 3x numbered riders with the odd look I take behind. It’s nerve racking as I juggle riding safely but still trying to preserve my lead. The last time down 13 is really nerve racking and felt really slow but I get down without incident and I finally start to relax as I see Director at the right hander into trail 2 after the dam crossing. I’m through the sandpit of a last corner and across the line 1st!
I catch up with Steve O (racing Masters for the 1st time and coming in 2nd!), Tim & Jimmy for the post race stories, then it’s some food and a chat with Dave O, Mark B & Johnny B while we wait for the presentations. An impromptu party cranks up at the start\finish with free Claret for all the Bar Flies!
Course map here.
Course profile here.