I have always wanted to do the Ginja Nina at Orange. It is logistically a hard race to do from Port Macquarie with no easy flight options and an 8 hour drive without stops. When this race became part of the Evocities series, which I have committed to attend, I had to make it a priority.
I arrived at Kinross State Forest with the aim of doing an easy lap however I had so much fun I went back for a second! I had heard some people talk about good trails but I was seriously amazed at how well they worked. The amount of climbing was hidden behind sweeping berms and switchbacks that slowly worked their way up the hill. All the technical features had easy and longer options for riders not up for the challenge and the downhills offered plenty of flow. It seemed like I was riding at Rotorua but without the slippery roots. The trails had heaps of flow and the opportunity to carry speed through gullies and around corners. What I liked most were the options to hit some small double jumps through the race that just added an extra element of fun. This was my second ride on the Pivot Mach 4 and with the shocks pumped up to normal pressure as opposed to my super soft solo 24HR setting, the bike felt great. It held low to the ground around corners and I felt encouraged to hit any jump and drop as hard as I could!
The race started at 10am which gave my nephews (who live at Orange) the chance to school me in Halo until midnight which still left enough time for a decent sleep. I had plenty of time to get sorted before the race and managed to secure a camera to my helmet again. On the line I was really looking forward to the race. The race did start pretty hard as can be seen in the first pic (thanks Crummy).
I didn't really have a race plan however I wanted to film some of the top boys showing the fast lines around the track. I managed to hold the wheel of Ed McDonald for the first lap and the Ward brothers for part of the second. I aimed to be consistent with my lap times and after the second lap, my times were within 30 seconds. As the race went on, I managed the faster lines and my confidence with the bike slowly increased. With one hour to go I was still feeling fresh and I was enjoying every part of the trails. With a course designed on 95% single track I thought passing would be impossible but the pine forest allowed for riders to move over easily and the atmosphere was quite relaxed out on the track. The weather through the event wasn't particularly hot however I consumed close to a bottle a lap for the whole event. The track wasn't easy to eat and drink on but I made the most of 3-4 spots each lap where I either drank half a bottle or consumed a gel! Coming across the line in 4 hrs 17mins I was almost disappointed I didn't get the chance to go out again for another lap.
I would highly recommend the tracks out at Kinross State Forest to anyone heading even close to Orange. You wont be disappointed! I heard some of the locals talking about even better trails being built in the area but I will be surprised if they could make anything as sweet as the trails there now.
I need to also thank the guys who have put this series together, I think the amount of marketing and prize money will see this series really take off and I'll be interested to see the numbers of riders increase throughout the series.
My attendance at the Evocities series has only really been made possible through Pure Edge. I'll post up some pics on Face Book on some of the protein balls and muesli bars I have been making with their products.
It's also great to see G8, one of my major sponsors come on board to sponsor the Evocities series. Come and have a look at my G8 innersoles so you can see exactly what I am talking about.
I need to again thank Jet Black Products for taking me on this year with Pivot Cycles. I am stoked to be riding such great bikes. If I could choose any bike to ride around Orange it would be the Mach 4 Carbon 27.5, I actually will find it hard to race a 29er hardtail this year with the option of the Mach 4! I think the Mach 4 setup with Stans Valor Wheels are a pretty special combination. While I have 2 X 10 on the Mach 4 I'm hanging for a turn of the 1 X 11 XTR that will be on my Pivot LES 29er and Pivot 29er SL!