With rain pouring down and a bout of food poisoning circulating through the riders everyone crowded under a shelter at Wallaga Lake for briefing. Im not sure how many people were really keen to be racing the final stage and we all waited to see what sort of a race, if any would run. I was hoping Friday wouldn't run however an individual time trial was on the cards.
Waking up Friday morning to a sky full of sun and a text message changing the event format to a mass start had everyone guessing exactly what would be happening. On the way to briefing my brother performed emergency surgery as he changed a dead brake pad on my bike 10 minutes before the race started. The race had been condensed to 1.5 laps around the Dirtsurfers single track before a final 5km run to the finish.
The race started off with everyone fighting for the last chance to move GC positions. I knew it would most likely come down to a mechnical or getting stuck in the mud so I made an effort to stay towards the front as possible. The first lap around the dirt surfers track wasn't too bad. Everything was rideable and the pace was on. The next part of a lap was unpredictable with lots of bog holes and running through knee deep mud. Andy played a bit of stuck in the mud before we hit the final 5km home so Dylan and I were left to tango. Dylan had to catch back 30 seconds I had to finish within 30seconds of him. Dylan is such a strong rider and I have a huge respect for the power he can develop. With several massive attacks I was able to hold on and ride across the finish line only a few seconds behind Dylan leaving me with the overall win!
A big thanks goes out to my school principal who suggested that I needed to take a group of students to a stage race this year. The final group was smaller than first expected with the 2 students attending not even owning a mountain bike. A big well done to these guys for completing not only the race stages but also the cruise stages. It goes to show what a bit of determination can do.
Hue and Wayne from Wild Horizons did a fantastic to ensure riders got to race each day. I'm also impressed that they were willing to accommodate students at this event. If it runs next year I'm sure Ill have a waiting list of students that want to attend!
It was great to have Darryl from Shotz nutrition at each stage. It meant my nutrition recovery was perfect allowing me to back up easily each day. It was also great to see other riders share in the enjoyment of cramp free riding with the Shotz Electrolyte Tabs.
Im glad SRAM decked my hardtail out with a new drive train for the race as anything less would have died mid week!
With Merida finding a 29er frame for me, this could be the last race on the 26er for a while. I'll post up some pics of my 2012 JetBlack blinged fleet once they get built.
My brother Mat was fantastic this week being domestic as me and the students got prepared for races each morning, we couldn't have done it without him.