The NSW State Championships would be the first outing on my much awaited new HED wheels fitted with some challenge tubular’s and I was excited to see what these lightweight but stiff wheels would bring to the race. After arriving early and getting a few laps on the redesigned course I was feeling confident and enjoying the track as it had lots of good obstacles to test your skills. The whole course was ride able but in one section it was a lot faster to get off and run as there was multiple logs and hairpin corners on a very steep hillside.
1:00PM – I found myself on the start line after a good long warm up and I was ready to race there was a lot of familiar faces and close to 50 riders in the main CX race. As there was no U23 category I was stepping up to race in the elites which I had been doing all season. The Gun when off and we were away I got a good start not losing to much ground on Garry Milburn after about 100meter I was starting to come back up the inside of him as we reached the first corner on the new crit track that surrounded the venue. I could hear the tires of other riders behind so I just kept the speed that I had going and started to try and string the field out so that when we reached the first tight corner no one would try and cut me off and cause me to slow down or even crash. I got to the start of the race track first and claimed the ‘Hole Shot’ prize from My Supplement Store and continued into the off camber switch backs with the rest of the field behind me. It was string out and I was still at the front on the first couple of corners until I slipped on a root that had become exposed from the previous races earlier. The best part about being at the front is if you make a mistake it’s up to the people behind you to get around you so you’re not really losing a ground on the leaders. Luckily no one came past and I was back on my feet and on my bike again in no time.
1:05PM – After the first lap there was maybe about 5 riders still in the lead group but they were leaving gaps to the riders in front so I decided to just turn the screws a little bit and see what happened. As I expected Garry was hot on my wheel and we started to open up a gap of about 20meters over the next lap. We were very evenly matched and started to take turn at the front making sure that the small gap we had would be pushed open in the coming laps. We both traded small attacks trying to find a spot on the course were the other rider was weaker and use that to your advantage but were so evenly matched that it was like shadow racing.
1:20PM – Now we had established a sizable lead and it was back down to what we pretty much do every race. The attacks started to come thick and fast trading blow for blow but still not being able to crack each other no matter how hard we tried. I hit the front and was pedaling around every corner and trying not to brake at all but as you start to do this I could feel I was on my limit as I clipped my pedals and skipped my rear wheel out. Every lap we would come past the canteen area and the crowd would get louder and louder as the wanted us to try and get away from each other but unfortunately it isn’t that simple when your heart rate is at 190+.
1:30PM – Still there was no sign of either of us slowing until I heard Garry slip on the same root that I had at the start of the race. I tried to get a small gap but he was straight back there within the next few corners and it was a matter of time until we would have to possibly sprint for the finish. I knew Garry has a very good sprint on him so with about 3 laps to go I tried to put in a long attack over some barriers and into a steep climb but we were stuck together like glue.
1:45PM – coming into the bell lap and everyone was cheering it started to become a game of cat and mouse I launched an attack knowing that I wanted to be first into a certain section as I felt really strong through there. I rode the barrier and then started to sprint up the hill on the other side. I was giving it all trying to go fast but not slip out and crash as that would be the end of the race if I did coming out of one of the hair pin corners I missed the fast line ad got a little bit bogged down in some long thick grass and Garry used the as the perfect launching spot to try and get around me. I had to scramble to eve get on his wheel as there was no real goo overtaking areas left before the finish. We entered the velodrome and I tried to move up the inside but as expected he shut the inside line down and I had to sit on his wheel for the next part of the lap. With the finish less than a minute away I was sting very close to his rear wheel and buzzing his rear tire with my front just to let him know I was still there. He took the last few corners very tentatively making sure that I wouldn’t be able to come around from somewhere and that he would not make a mistake.
1:50PM – 100 Meters to go and we were on the road Garry had about two bike lengths over me and I was trying my best to catch that back up but with 40 meters to go I realized I didn’t have enough time to make it back up and had to settle for second place a mere 2 seconds behind. Unfortunately coming second once again but happy with the form and how the new bike and wheel combo was feeling so I am looking forward to next weekend’s National CX Champs and Round in Adelaide. Thanks to Focus Bikes for the Support and Two Wheel Industries for the AGU Products (go try them out). Also Thanks goes to all the people that help make the CX Newcastle races possible.
Photos from JJ at Silka Images