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With a hectic work schedule over winter I was looking forward to my 3rd 50km Kowalski Classic and a weekend away in the nation's capital. Having the race postponed was a good thing for me and allowed a full recovery from a rather nasty flu in September.
Round 2 of the Rocky Trail Shimano MTB GP was held for the first time just outside of Singleton on a club track which rewarded those who could hold corner speed on loose, dusty, and at times, off camber corners. Relatively flat which a few small pinch climbs it meant there were few opportunities to freewheel - a totally different course than that at Glenrock last month.
I've never done an 'easy' Rockytrail event and, despite entering as a team for the first round of the 2016 series, this race was no different.
A beautiful autumn day greeted nearly 300 riders at Glenrock, Newcastle for the inaugural Shimano MTB GP at this venue. I'd done two reco laps a few weeks prior and was impressed by what I had seen, however a late course change by the organisers meant that half the course was sight-unseen for me and, according to a few in the know, 'had a few hill climbs'.
After watching AC/DC strut their stuff at ANZ stadium last Wednesday I was convinced that if a group of blokes the same age as my old man could go hard for 2 hours then I was ready to to take on my 2nd Fling. Impressive concert by the way!
Once again I packed up the bike and family to have another go at the Kowalski Classic. Staying at our relatives place makes logistics easier for events away from home and, for me, it really makes a difference having familiar surrounds at which to 'base' yourself for the weekend.
It is 1am on a balmy night on the Gold Coast last weekend and I'm sitting in the VIP lounge of 'Love' nightclub. As I look across the dance floor packed with twenty-something aged dancers gyrating in time to the incredibly loud, but not distorted, doof doof, I notice the DJ is on a stage of sorts probably no more than 50cms high. 'I reckon I could pop the front wheel up that and ride onto that stage' I say to myself and have a laugh.
The leadup to this race, my final one of the year, was perfect for me. Training started the week after the Kowalski and weekend efforts consisted of 3 - 3.5hr ride duration, up to 55km in length and I tried to get in around 1000m of ascent per ride. The hills of the Oaks, Wisemans Ferry, Cascades, Nth Turra and Ku Ring Gai NP provided a good challenge and, along with a quick pre work dash around Lane Cove NP each week I felt I was ready for my first Half Fling on 4 hrs riding per week which is pretty much my maximum given current life priorities.
Some other points for the leadup:
Wow. What an awesome day.
The Kowalski Classic was pencilled into my calendar very early on this year after sampling the lovely trails of kowen/sparrow hill last year. It didn't disappoint! Soundtrack for the morning was the new Slash album 'World on fire' which was turned up to eleven on the Kings hwy as a convoy of bike laden cars made their way to the event centre. Had a quick chat with @dicko in the carpark - nice to meet you mate.
When I sat down late last year and thought about which races I wanted to enter in 2014, the 3 Ring wasn't on the list. Then I rode Wingello in December and it changed my mind, the flowing singletrack was just too hard to ignore. Unfortunately yesterday I left my climbing legs back in Sydney.
I spent most of the week leading up to this race being very low key - early to bed, low stress week at work (I even left a triple farewell on Friday night after 2 hours) and staying away from the bike in order to give myself a fighting chance against the cold I had been battling since last week and which had interfered with last weeks james estate adventures. The result was I was pretty much fighting fit today, although with no time on the bike since the last race.