National CX RD 2 – Darebin Park – Melbourne

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3:10pm – A little bit of a  latter start for the second round of the NCXS held in Melbourne hosted by the famous Dirty Deeds Club. After yesterday’s result I was going to be sitting in a much better position and not having to fight to make my way through some traffic, but unfortunately this was not the case. I had a terrible start  on the inside and only being able to go as fast as the person in front. It was a greasy wet surface and everyone was learning how to two wheel drift as we sorted our selves out on the first lap. I slotted in behind Focus Bikes team mate Mark Chadwick for the first section until he was pushed wide and off the course by some Kiwi guy with a wicked Mustache. Ducking around him as he jumped back on the course, I chased back on to the wheel of the Rider ahead. I had lost a lot of places due to my poor start today and had to make them up quickly. I was just inside the top 20 riders and was feeling great on the climbs, so every chance I got I pushed my way up the groups and moved towards the faster riders. A split of five riders got away in the first 10 minutes and everyone started to get into their own little groups. As per yesterday, I was with Nick Both again and we were catching fellow team mate Tom Chapman. A bit over a lap later, we were all together again and starting to catch fellow team mate Jade. Then we were all together again and I think people were thinking that we just like riding together but in true fact it’s just coincidence! We all worked together for the next few laps passing ‘Hecklers corner’ and copping every joke they could think of about with four of us riding together. One of the good ones being when I was starting to leave a 10 meter gap and someone says ‘’your teams time trial is up there’’. Soon enough we caught another rider making it a large group. Everyone was running the top barrier and I was thinking of hopping it as I had been doing so in practice but when you’re at your max heart rate and coming up to a 400mm high solid timber barrier sometimes your body has other thoughts. With 2 laps to go the odd rider out slipped on a flat greasy corner and gave us four focus riders a gap that we could hold on to the finish. I crossed the line in 9th knowing that I really have some work to do on my starting positioning for the coming rounds.

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Thanks to Dirty Deeds for putting on the even and to Focus Bikes Australia for the support. Photos – Riding Focus (Joshua Nicholson)

National CX Rd 1 – Cranwell Park, Melbourne

2:30pm – I found myself lining up on the grid in the last row knowing that I had a lot of work ahead trying to get through the traffic of slower riders. Because I had not competed in many races last year I didn’t have enough points to be one of the top 20 seeded riders. I positioned myself behind fellow young rider and good fried Ben Bradley who I know loves a fast start and will do anything to get to the pointy end of the race.

The gun went and we were off. I started on the left side knowing that everyone would move to the right for the first right hand corner. This allowed me a clear run around the outside and almost half way up the 70 strong field. HED Focus Team Mate Shaun Lewis was forced wide on the first corner almost ending up in the metal gate alongside the course making him get off and have to rejoin the race in the second half of the field. The next few hair pin corners were congested as everyone jostled for position and started to thin out into a single file line.

About ¼ way through the first lap I was trying to pedal around a 180’ slightly off camber corner and found myself taking a small nap in the middle of the course. I quickly jumped back up knowing that it is much easier to make up ground on the front leaders in the first part of the race then it is to in the later stages.

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A few more laps passed and the field started to spread out and I had been consistently moving up a few places each lap as I was starting to find some clean riding space. Then all of a sudden like clockwork four Focus Bikes Team mates had all joined and it would have looked like a team’s time trial. Nick Both was sitting on the front of the group pushing the pace and I gave a turn when I could, but really, I don’t think it helped at all as I probably didn’t even break the wind for him!

As the race went on and the hill started to take its toll ,I lost contact with Nick and was in my own little world of hurt. The wind was very strong and every time I came to the barriers I would always contemplate hopping them knowing that I could make the height but worrying that the wind may pick up my 60kg body and throw it across the track.

I finally got around to looking at how many laps I had to go as I crossed the start finish line and it was only three left. I started to try go faster as everyone does, but my legs started to have better ideas. It was starting to get past the length of racing that we had been dong at local club CX races  but it wasn’t over yet. I just tried to stay consistent and not make any stupid mistakes.

I crossed the finish Line in 11th happy with my result as I started on the back row of the field. Thanks to Focus Bikes Australia CX Team for the support. Photo – Riding Focus (Joshua Nicholson)

Manly Warringah CX RD 2

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3:30pm - Race start as per  normal Garry took off like a scalded cat leaving us all to chase and I tried to bridge the gap from the start. I didn’t have the best start and was sitting in fourth and needed to move up quickly as a rider was already starting to drop the wheel ahead. I made it to Garry and let him sit on the front for the second half of the first lap as I caught my breath.

We were away with a very small 5 second gap back to third and another 3 Seconds back to fourth. I then rolled through knowing that we had to keep pushing the pace otherwise they would get on and then it is harder to drop a rider when their in bigger group.

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Garry and I were locked in another what seemed to be familiar battle and from what I could tell it seemed like the crowd were loving it as we would attack each other and try to pry any little gap that we could open. It was about mid-way through the 45 minute race and I had finally got some sort of gap that I could work with. I’m not sure what happened but I  seemed to be getting a slight gap over Garry. This was short lived when about half a lap later Garry decided he didn’t want to let a kid beat him and closed the gap.
The laps passed and we had three to go I rode through a mud section and felt my rim bash into some hard rock or root that laid beneath the surface and could only think that I may have got a flat. Half a lap later my tire was still up and I knew I was in the all clear as it was going to come down to another all to familiar sprint finish with Garry. We are so evenly matched that it always makes for close racing between the two of us. Coming into the last lap Garry was on the front and I was sticking to his wheel like glue. With about 300 meters to go he lit the afterburners and accelerated so fast out of one of the hair pin corners and managed to get the 1 second gap that he needed to take the win. Unfortunately I came second AGAIN to Garry but on the bright side we both have had a good hard two weeks of racing leading up to the first round of the National CX Series that will be held in Melbourne Next Weekend.

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