I had been looking forward to doing the xc national rounds ever since I got a bling 8.7kg hardtail from JetBlack and Pivot. It was just a good bike because it was so light. Since that bike died I got used to riding the Mach 4's in shorter races and the newer 2011 bikes seemed to be a whole lot racier than the previous 2010 model.
During the Highland Fling I was starting to wish for a super light hardtail on a couple of the hills in the middle of the race but by the end I was having heaps of fun on the duallie on some of the technical single tracks and it felt like it climbed really well.
I went into the first national xc round with the expectation that I would keep enjoying the duallie and it would feel quick on the climbs. I wasn't disappointed.
On the start line I was ready to charge off from the gun. Sitting back on the 4th row meant I didn't get to see the front at all. I must have been in the mid 20's heading into the first single track climb. From here it was almost impossible to pass for about 3km until the track opened up to fireroad. Once in the opening the pace became crazy as people tried to overtake and make up lost time. I don't know why so many people go stupid hard to get to the front just to hold everyone up in the single track. After a couple of laps there were less hold ups.
About 2km into the third lap (out of six) I managed to bend my chain. I'm not sure if I have done this before. I thought my race was all over. I stopped and had a look but thought I'd keep pedaling until it snapped. Another couple of laps and the chain was still together and I was picking up a few more places. I think someone called out that I was in tenth place and I was pretty stoked with that. I was starting to enjoy these laps even though my chain was skipping so bad I had to sit down and spin most of the race.
I was starting to catch up to a few riders who I highly respect on the xc circuit. When I went past Ben Mather and Shaun Lewis I knew I must have been going alright. I was surprised to catch Paul Van Der Ploeg and Andy Blair on my second last lap however, I didn't think I would ever finish a xc race in front of Lauchie Norris. He must have been having a bad day. Coming across the line I thought I would be just inside of top ten however I had made it to fourth which is my best result at the national level at Olympic distance. Maybe I should give this style of racing a serious go?
In the afternoon it was awesome to see the local young guns from Port Macquarie, Billy Sewell and Blake Polverino, take out 1st and 6th in the u19 race. I got to hang out with these future stars for the weekend and I'm training that little bit harder to make sure I can stay ahead of them!