Shortly after getting back from the US I was lining up for the Big Smoke CX race in Sydney park right in the heart of the city. In previous years it has been called the Rapha Super cross but this year it had received a name change. Last year I had great success managing to come away with the win and was hoping to do the same this time.
I traveled with my mum and dad for the first time this 2015 CX season and it was a nice low key race to attend after having a few days off the bike. Once arriving and completing a few practice laps I noticed that it was going to be a tough course with plenty of barriers and also a lot of climbing.
After a nice warm up around the local cricket grounds I made my way towards the start were the normal procedure took place. The weather was heating up and I could feel the sun starting to burn me through my sunblock. With 30 seconds to go someone arrived late and had to be added to the start list, causing the race to be put back another 2 minutes. By then my warmup had started to disappear but so had everyone else’s. Settling in for the start again I focused on what I had to do.
‘Bang’ the gun goes off and we were away. I got a great start finding my cleat straight away and managing a smooth line across the bumpy surface. As we started to crest the first climb after the start straight had a small gap to fellow Novocastrian Matt Lee. Coming into the first single barrier I got off and ran as my heart rate was very high and I wasn’t quite warmed up. I got back on quick and kept pushing the pace to see if anyone wanted to contest for the lead. Matt was only a few seconds behind and coming into the next set of double barriers I ran as well. This set were immediately after a hairpin corner and also on an off camber downhill. I didn’t want to risk crashing just for the sake of riding some barriers down a hill.
After the second set of barriers we headed into the forest which was nice as it was a little cooler than being out on the open hill side in the sun. As you exit the forest you have a steep straight climb into a few more switch backs with another double barrier on an off camber downhill. Again I opted to run this one as I thought I could be more consistent and also faster by doing so. Up past the crowd and over to the main decent on the course. The wide open course allowed for many different line choices making for some fun. If you have a good line you could make it around the tight corners without having to touch the breaks, but if you didn’t you would be in the tape due to the off camber nature of being on the side of a hill.
Coming past the pits for the first time I heard dad say 5 minute laps and knew I would have about 9 laps for the total distance of the race so I started to pace my self-knowing that towards the end will be harder as my body temperature would rise not having a drink on my bike. The air temp was also in the low 30s but there was a strong breeze that made the air feel dry.
The second lap I hoped the single barrier and ran the following double barriers making sure that I kept it rubber side down. I tried to settle into my own tempo and could see where all the other competitors were on the course allowing me to measure if I was getting more of a gap or losing some. At the laps passed I felt good and wasn’t at the point of cramping so I pushed on using the race as a good hard training session.
Coming in to the final lap I tried to pick up my pace and got out of the saddle up the climbs pushing my heart rate up ensuring that I would get the maximum benefit from the race towards my long term training.
I crossed the line happy to take the win knowing that it wasn’t as strong field as a NCXS race but my training was still on the right track for constant improvement. This was my last race on the CX bike for the 2015 season so now it’s time to train hard and see what next year brings.
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