After getting a taste of the Kowen and Sparrow trails just out of Canberra last year, I was keen to come back. Last year I kept wishing I was on a dual suspension bike, this year I went for the hardtail option knowing I need to get very familiar with this bike leading up to the Munga.
I flew into Canberra Friday night, which allowed plenty of time to get my bike sorted and a chance to catch up with family during Saturday.
I got out to the race with lots of time to warm up and register which was quite relaxing! I started to warm up around 7.30am in leg warmers, arm warmers and a windproof jacket however on the start line, 30 minutes later, it was starting to feel like a warm day.
I chose to wear clear glasses as the track is mostly in the pine forest and the day started off looking quite overcast.
The race started in waves and I found my way to the back of the elite group. Knowing there was a good climb to start I wasn't too stressed. I felt comfortable going up the first climb however I should have had a real dig to get closer to the front runners heading into the first single track. With the majority of the track being single track there wasn't much chance to overtake and I got a little held up as I watched the lead group dissappear. I felt pretty good during the first 50km of the race however when I got a time split going through transition that the lead group was 6.5mins up the road I knew I had gone far too easy in this section. I increased my intensity and started to ride away from the group of riders I was cruising with.
I was trying to do the math... 6.5mins at 25km/hr means the boys were around 3km up the road. All I needed to do is ride 1.5km/hr faster than them for the last 2hrs of the race...
On trails I didn't know I knew it would be impossible. As I increased my speed, I decreased my efficiency as I braked and accelerated out of unfamilar corners. I was quite surprised to see I was gaining on Dylan Cooper heading into the 75km feedzone. As I stopped to find my bottle I thought I had lost all chance of seeing him again. I managed to sneak past him at around the 80km mark just before catching Andy Blair a few kilometers later. He had done his job for his team mate and later pulled out as I tried to stay ahead of Dylan for the last part of the race. As I went through the neutral feed with 15km to go, I topped up my drink bottle and grabbed a banana to ensure I had enough fuel to keep me firing until the end. I started to ride more conservatively during the last 10km as I really started to envy how lucky Canberrian riders really are with the amazing network of single track.
A big thank you to the Kowalski Brothers for linking together some awesome trails. I will be back again to ride Kowan, I might even bring the family out before the Scott!
I need to also send a big thanks to my taxi drivers. Grant Johnson took me out to the race while James Ross passed bottles in transition and dropped me back at the airport.
Thanks to Ben and his family for putting up with me for a couple of nights. Look after my hardtail :)