2015 National XCO MTB Champs Bright, Victoria
The time had come and it was the day that would crown the U23 Australian National XCO Champion and give them the honor of wearing the green and gold jersey for the next 364 days. After arriving in Bright on the Thursday afternoon and completing my first sighting laps of the course I was quietly happy with the style of course. The majority of the course reminded me of the pump track and jumps I use to spend hours on in my back yard. Another few more lap followed on the Friday morning nutting out the ever changing lines and course conditions. Saturday morning rolled around and I woke early going for a short 30min spin to get the blood going in the fresh cold alpine air. After that I headed to the local coffee shop and had a small meal that would become my lunch as we raced at 12noon. Heading back to the accommodation for a short rest and then it was time to jump on my bike and head off for my normal warm up routine.
12 noon – Watching, waiting for the elite men to pass on their start loop before we could get onto the start grid for our race. We raced at the same time but started a few minutes behind so that the leaders of the u23 wouldn’t get too far into the elite field.
I was called up 11th which put me on the second row, I thought this was pretty good for only doing one round prior and going terrible in it. The call was made and the gun fired and we were off! I placed myself behind Ben Bradly who I knew starts fast and did just that. I managed to get up to about the top 6 and a gap opened up on the right side of the start loop so I sprinted past and let fellow Focus rider Scott Bowden know that I was going past so he could jump on. I thought that it would be better to be at the front then have to fight for 10th wheel with another 5 people and if you’re at the front you stay out of trouble.
Coming around the end of the start loop and Sebastian Jayne decided he wanted to be at the front and there wasn’t much room as we were going into the single track so I had to slow down before I was going to run into a large stump and take the whole field down. I jumped in behind him and filtered back to 4th as we entered the next long fast straight. I had a rider past me as we got towards the end of the straight but I didn’t put up a fight and knew he was a good fast wheel to be behind.
Weaving in and out of the bush the pace was on. Coming out onto the fire road I was starting to feel that first move of mine in my legs. I started to struggle on the climb with a few people passed me before I could spin out my legs before we hit the steep part of the climb. As time went on there was a small gap of about 10 seconds from me to a group of three riders that consisted of 5th, 6th and 7th place. I chased hard for a lap and just as I was in reach they lifted the pace not letting me get that final last bit closer to get on. I could almost reach them so I kept my head down and tried to keep close hoping they would slow just a little.
Coming down the descent I could see them up ahead and started to push it a little too hard and came unstuck sliding out on direction and then saving it but running off the other side of the track and down the embankment. I tried to unclip but my foot was pinned under my bike. Managing to get it out after a few seconds and scrambling back to the track losing maybe 15 seconds or so. This was enough to lose all contact and sight of the group and put a stop to the momentum and tempo I had started to build.
There was only one and a half laps to go and coming into the feed zone for the last time I couldn’t see the group at all but I could see one rider that had started to fade even tho he was about a minute in front at that stage. I came out of the bush on the last lap and onto the fire road where I strugled on the first lap and felt like I had a little bit left so I got out of the saddle and caught the rider in 7th place. Immediately passing them trying to make sure they couldn’t get onto my tempo.
I rode the last lap at a consistent pace to those that I rode previously and really started to feel the cramps set in. As I would stand my quads would lock and as I would sit and climb my calf’s would do the same. Riding the last 1km with my calfs stuck in one position really left me legs in pain. Trying not to make any silly mistakes I crossed the line for 7th. Not my best result but something I could build on for next year.
Thanks to my parents for taking me down to Bright and to my sponsors for the support.