Sunday, May 16, 2010

Stage 7 Red Centre MTB Enduro

I could hardly sleep Thursday night. There was some serious financial pressure to perform well during the last stage. I wasn't too concerned about how my legs were feeling but more about how my bike would cope. During day 1 I managed to destroy a carbon rim, during day 3 I managed a flat tyre because of a ghetto tubeless setup. During stage 6 I had dropped a light battery, I was just hoping for a day with no issues!

In the Mountains To Beach stage race, there was a much lower amount of money on offer for the overall win and cash prizes were given out each stage. This meant at the end of the week you could still go home with some cash even if you didn't make the placings. Going into the last stage, if I lost 10minutes I was out of the top 5...

The race started with a pace car around town before we hit a few kms of fireroad. I had no plan on setting the pace as I had a 3:30 lead and I was happy for other people to win the stage. About 10mintues in and Ben Randal had started to get away. I wasn't too concerned because of the buffer I had. I planned on catching back some time later on in the stage after riding with the chase group. About 20minutes into the race and I noticed my tyre was getting a little spongy. I rode the tyre for a few kms like this before stopping to give it some CO2. I couldn't get the tyre to seal so I threw in a tube. All I could think of was that I had lost my ten minutes here and my race was over! What seemed like an eternity later I had the tube in and was on a mission to minimize lost time. I knew I couldn't catch the leaders with their headstart but thought I could perhaps try and stay in the top 3-4 overall. Heading past the next marshall I asked for a time split and got told 10minutes. Doing my maths I knew this was 5th position for me. I kept smashing it along the fireroads and often surprising technical single tracks to see if I could catch down some of that time. At the half way point I was told I was a lest 5 mintues behind the group. I imagined that the group would include AJ, Ben Henderson and Andrew Fellows. Ben Randal was further again up the road. About 20minutes further down the road I could see AJ ahead. I was quite surprised to see him and he didn't seem to be enjoying the race. Riding past him I caught up to David who is a "local" who must have been sitting in 4th. I got past him and started following the final fence line that lead back to the Telegraph Station. I got to a river crossing and I couldn't see any tyre tracks so I looked back to the last check point and thought the trail could of led off over the fence along a more obvious path. I jumped the fence and rode a few hundred metres looking to pick up the trails but turned back resorting to the idea that I should be following the fence line. David caught up again and I eventually found another pink marker to keep me following the fence line. With about 3kms to go I could see Ben Randal up ahead. I suddenly became optimistic of a top 2-3 position overall. As I went past I handed him my last CO2 which I half used as he managed to get a flat also. Heading past the 2km to go sign I put the pace on and just hoped that Andrew Fellows didn't finish too far ahead. Coming over the line he was trying to convince me he had been in for around 4minutes meaning he would have won overall. The officials spoiled his fun and let me know it was only around 2-3 mins and I should have won overall!

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