Friday, and the alarm goes off at fucking 03:30. Some faffing at home then into the car airport long term parking bound. I've got a 7am flight outa Melbourne to Hobart. I'm supposed to be at the airport 2hrs before my flight because I'm carrying my bike. I'm at the long term parking around 4am. I looked on the web last night to see what the go is with the bus from the parking to the terminal. Every 20mins it says but there's no absolute times, which is why I'm early, to be on the safe side. As I roll up to the bus stop, so does the bus. This is running too smooth.
I'm ticketed up and the Stumpy is now in the hands of the baggage handlers and it's now time to try and get a power nap in for the remaining 2hrs. It just doesn't happen. Those terminal chairs are made so you can't sleep in them. So are airplane chairs for that matter.
The flight's on time and my baggage is safe. I'm in a cab and stop via the centre of Hobart for some food for the day and breakie on race day, then off to the Motel in Berriedale. I chose this location so that I could easily ride to the course. It takes around 30mins to get to the course and I bang out 2 practice laps. I'm liking it. It should suit me. Back to the Motel for food and relaxing, then into Hobart on the bus late afternoon for some chain lube and food. There's also some socks purchased too for the hell of it. An early night as it's already been a long day.
I check out at 8 and leave my bike bag in storage. It's a cool 13 degrees so there's knee & arm warmers on for the easy ride to the course. I meet up with Dave & Emma and Emma is kindly feeding both Dave and myself for the 1st feed before her race. There will be a mystery feeder on the last lap that Emma will organise so she can prep for her race straight after ours.
We are gridded up on the start line that points up from the get go. The gun goes and I'm wary not to push too hard and pop before the climb is over. I'm racing 'data commando' too, which means I have forgotten to pack my Polar watch. One guy seems to do just this and by the time the climb's over there's three of us tightly packed descending single track. I'm third wheel. It's Brian John and Evan James in front and they are going at it hammer and tong. Their pace is high enough for me so I wait to see how they go on the large climb in the middle of the lap. It's mostly side track and Brian is ever so slowly edging away from Evan and I feel like I can give it more stick. Towards the top there is a small section of double single track and I'm gunning it to get past Evan and do. With all this climbing comes a mighty down section back to the start\finish and I've gathered Brian up on it. A perfect bottle change with Emma and I decide to give it full stick on the climb. I pass Brian who's downing a gel and push as hard as I can to the top. I can hear my gasps for air reverberate around the bush as I time my lactate pop with perfection as the course starts its downward weave through the trees. I keep whipping my own ass back around to the start of the major climb and my legs whinge as they often do when I hit a climb already in the red. I settle in as best I can and just keep as much pressure on as I can to the top. There's a section of switch backs half way up and I spot Evan below. This gives me a reason to keep the pressure on. I top out and then get a rest on the super down section. Such a fun down! The down is over after a succession of burms and it points upwards again and I get the bell for the final lap.Mystery feeder is on the mark and I thank them as we exchange. Before I disappear into the pine trees towards the top of the start\finish climb I take a look behind but can't see Evan or Brian. There's not many times on this course that you get to see what's happening behind but there is one just before the major climb starts while you cross a dirt road in an open field. No sign of anyone so it's head down and hurt on to the top for the last time I keep reminding myself. The descent is trouble free again and I'm enjoying it. Through the burms and around the bottom corner I can now see the blow up arch that is the finish and I'm under it 1st! Dave Ollie is the 1st to congratulate me as he's still loitering at the start\finish after his race, which he also had a win in. Evan, then Brian come across the line and it's hand shaking all round. Not only for this race but for the whole National Series.
There's talk amongst us to see who can get leave passes to ride up trails to the top of Mt. Wellington. I have to pass as my time is short due to my flight back to Melbourne later in the arvo. Shame, sounds like it would have been a ripper of an adventure.
I'd stashed my backpack in Dave & Emma's car, so it was now time to retrieve it, capture the Elite races with my camera and flash, before heading back to the hotel and bagging up the Stumpy, then bumming a lift to the airport with Dave and Emma. I spot Lachlan Norris at the baggage claim at the Melbourne end. Geez, and he raced the Elite race and made this flight!
The pictures I took over the weekend can be found in this Flickr set.
Sadly, this was the last of the Australian National Mountain Bike Series races. Like last year, when I followed the Victorian State Series and it came to an end, it was a bit of a downer due the maximum fun that I'd got from racing XC. Though I think my body and mind needs a bit of a refresh after all that I've put into it.
I'd like to send a big thanks to all the people that have helped me out during the races and sent me their support pre and post races. It's helped a huge amount!
And especially D.C at Fitzroy Revolution for his awesome support (just a 'small' example here) to this old bugger.