The first race back after breaking my collarbone was always going to be a testing and careful experience. With a hardtail from 2011 with worn running gear and a borrowed dual suspension 99 Merida that needed some TLC some desperate calls to organise a shock service late Saturday afternoon were made. OnTheGo came to the party and lined up a favour from Brent Miller and Bike Culture who were still shaking their heads as I left the shop with my bikes. Apparently it is new bike time!
I needed something new to get excited about so the NorthWave Extreme Tech shoes got a run in. I did a weigh in before heading to Canberra to help with the decision:
Shimano = 479grams
Bont = 458 grams
Sidi = 448 grams
NorthWave = 398 grams!
The race started in the dark which meant lights were on for the first lap and gave the locals a chance to put some time in as I tried to untie my chain during the first lap. I decided to start the race on the hardtail and had the intention to swap to the dually as the sun came out. I came into transition after the first lap over 7mins behind in around 7th place and stayed on the hardtail as it felt quick. I slowly moved up the places as the race progressed. I easily fell into a relaxed pace as I caught riders and I didn't really see the point in pushing hard to get past as my time to the leader had blown out to over 10mins mid race. When I caught up to 2nd and 3rd place with just over a lap to go I knew we were racing for 2nd. It was on the second last lap that a train of traffic started out on course as the 100km and 60km riders started.
Riding around with Andy and Callum I was sitting in 4th place as I stopped and grabbed the dually for the last lap. The bike felt amazing and seemed to grip really well. I started pushing the corners a little harder and started having a lot of fun. I always forget how much fun the 99 Merida is and it was heaps faster than the hardtail. Over 3-4 minutes faster per lap...if only I started on this bike!
Coming into the finish I was feeling great, I felt like I could have maintained the same pace for a few more hours which is a good feeling after having so much time off racing.
A massive congratulation to Ed for smashing it off the front from the start and maintaining consistently quick laps. Impressive! Thanks also to Andy and Callum who kept me racing to secure a place on the podium.
I'm just hoping the new bikes arrive before the Kona Odyssey next weekend!