After arriving at the accommodation and setting up my bike for the third round at the speed dome the next day, I met up with fellow Focus Bikes Team riders, for an afternoon ride to get the blood moving.
3:30pm A rather late start for a cx race but it was nice as it gave us ample of time to get ready and not be rushed. We arrived a few hours earlier to set up the tent and get all the bikes ready to race making sure any final adjustment were done well prior to the start. Soon enough we were being called up to the start line. I had finally got enough points to start on the front row which was very nice not having to battle through some slower riders. We received the 30 second warning and the 15 second, then we were held for what seemed like a minute as it was dead silent and only the small squeaks from the rider’s disc brakes as they edged closer to the line trying to pre empt when the gun would go.
All of a sudden we were off and racing with Garry Milburn off to his usual fast start gapping everyone and staying out of trouble. It was a battle for the rest of the riders as they started to close him down. I was on the left side of the starting road and it was a left hand first corner. I was sitting right up the front in the top few, with a good start when out of nowhere Chris Jongewaard came through and started to close the inside line I was on. I slowed a little knowing that I would hit the deck if I stayed there and it was better to lose one place now and finish the race than crash out and not finish at all.
The field stretched out with Jongewaard going to the front early and pushing the pace dislodging any slower riders. I rode at the same tempo as everyone else, just saving my energy and lungs until we got out of the first few slippery hairpins and onto the longer straights where it was easier and faster to pace other riders.
It was a great course with Road, Tight hairpins in the mud, dry straights, barriers and off camber corners all making this a great race course. It was sorted out after the first lap and there was a clear gap from the top ten riders to the rest of the field. Almost all the top riders were getting off and running the double barrier as it was much faster than trying to hop them on the slight incline in front of the crowd.
3:50pm The race was starting to blow apart and I was starting to get the heart rate up and feeling good as I was catching just a few riders that had gone out too hard to early. Every lap I would hear the screaming voice of MR Focus Australia (Graeme Moffett) telling me to ride faster. I was with Garry Milburn sitting in about 6th place and fellow team mate Shaun Lewis was hunting us down. Sure enough he came past and it caught me by surprise and I couldn’t even get on his wheel at first so I had to chase to get some sort of rest by sitting behind him.
4:00pm The trio of Shaun, Garry and Myself were swapping turns until Garry had a simple slip of the front wheel and hit the deck costing him some valuable time. He was quickly up but when I turned around to look, his chain was off and he had to put it on by hand. This gave Shaun and myself enough of a gap to try and hold him off for the rest of the race.
4:10pm The final laps were starting to take its toll and Shaun was not stopping for any one. He just kept on going faster and faster trying to catch the riders that were just up in the distance. I could not keep up with him any more and had to start riding at my own pace and make sure that I made it to the finish intact. With only two laps to go I decided to try and ride up a section in the trees in the big ring and I had only been doing in the small ring the whole time. This was not the smartest idea, as I ended up riding straight into a tree head first and coming to an abrupt stop in the middle of the track looking a bit silly. I jumped back on and finished the remaining laps and ended up in 6th in the elite and first U23 rider to cross the line. After I finished I realised that I had ripped a whole heap of skin off my right knuckle and there was a fair but of blood on my hand making it look like I had punched the tree and come off second best!
Tomorrow is a different course at a different venue so I will see how I can back up and ride after today’s effort.