Wednesday, September 25, 2013

2013 Kowalski Classic

I have only heard good things about the trails at Kowen Forest which is situated west of Canberra. The only experience I have had there is during 24hr events years ago and the Mont last year where I only rode in the dark. I had actually crossed this race off my calender as I didn't consider it important but had it reinstated after an invite from OnTheGo and a massive plug from some of the Canberra locals. 

The Crankensteins invited me to a Q&A evening hosted by Central Church where my brother works which was a great chance to talk mountain bikes. Jess Douglas had also influenced my decision with the option to fly down and get a lift part of the way home so I could get some more kilometres in leading up to WEMBO. As Jess was too unwell to race, I managed to get a lift back to Newcastle with Andrew Lloyd during the first 10km of the race!

The race started with a perfect amount of fire road to sort out the field. The pace lifted as the locals knew where the single track started and for the first 20km the top 20 places were all together. I was starting to question how a race with so much single track would allow for the faster riders to get ahead but this was soon answered as Mark Tupalski accelerated and started splitting the group as he powered up a series of decent climbs. This left me on the back of 20 riders into the next single track allowing a gap to form. I tried to pick away a few positions as the lead riders were now out of sight. The next fireroad leading up to the 30km drink station gave me the chance to move up into 5th place. I was now riding with Andy Blair who I snuck ahead of in the single track as I tried to catch the riders in front. Going under the start/finish arch with 40km to go we could see the lead group of 3. At the end of the next single track we had caught them asking directions and Andy moved to the front to put some hurt on. 10km later he pierced his front tyre as Mark moved to the front. A small gap opened up in a little technical climb and I encouraged Mark to keep the pace on. This gap seemed to expand as I got to see how the locals ride Sparrow Hill. It has some really cool sections and I was beginning to wish I had my duallie just for a bit more fun!

At one stage I was convinced the race was going to end soon as there couldn't be any more single track we hadn't ridden. Then I saw the 20km to go sign indicating another 20km of single track! In the last 20km both Mark and myself took turns of setting the pace to see who would crack first. I was really impressed with Mark's ride and current form. I have raced against him over the past few years and I was actually expecting him to pop at any stage however, it took a sprint finish to decide the winner and I wasn't going to get done two weekends in a row!

I can see how this race has become so popular and why there will be lots more people riding it next year. For me the big things were lots of cool single track, drink bottle drops that didn't leave until just before the race, recovery table and generous prizes.

I am really keen to come back next year, I will be on a duallie and I will be recommending more people come and do this race!

1 comment:

  1. I'm glad the race worked out for you.
    On behalf of the Crankensteins, thank you for coming.
    But you know, you really should move to Canberra.