Thursday, April 26, 2012
The Common Mountain Bike Festival is the closest 8hr to Port Macquarie which was a good enough reason on its own to head across. What made this event more appealing was it was sponsored by both JetBlack Products and Merida Bikes, both of whom support me, so it's always good to attend the races these guys support.
After entering this race a few pictures surfaced on the internet which clearly showed whipper snipped paddocks with a few random rocks around the place. I started to question my motivation for riding around for 8hrs.
Upon arriving at the venue it was fantastic to see so many familiar faces from both Port Macquarie and Newcastle. The race location at Dungog is around 1hr from Newcastle and 2hrs from Port Macquarie making it quite accessible for the surprisingly large turn out.
The race started with a pace car and memorial loop in recognition of Jason 'Jack' Hile before a few guys smashed off the front. Having not seen the lap I was quite interested to what can be done on a farm. I was amazed. After growing up on a farm and having my first mountain bike experience along cattle tracks dodging cow manure this course seemed to suit me. The course designers obviously don't enjoy riding up hill and so every hill has been switched back and forth. This provided a great chance to talk to riders as you slowly caught up to them.
From the start I wasn't sure who was solo and who was racing as part of a team so I just thought I would try racing everyone. After spending most of the week riding my hardtail around it was awesome to get on the Merida 99. It was so much fun to ride. There were quite a few sections of track that I really looked forward to as it was a chance to just hold on and smile. I really enjoy a lap based race as you get faster and better at line selection. With a couple of hours to go I was feeling pretty good so I aimed to do each lap faster until the race finished. In the end my fastest lap was my last by about 2 minutes!
I think the venue at Dungog is a perfect setting for a skills clinic so next year when I come back Ill see if there is any interest in a half day of line selection.
The things that stood out to me were the riders enjoying the Merida demo bikes, the variety and technical nature of the trails, the friendly Newcastle crew and the awesome race cookies that Tanya Pretty made!
A big thanks to all the guys from Gordon Street Cycles who came down and kept Jen and Archie company.