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The Scott - Jet Racing Report

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By Antsonline - Posted on 17 October 2012

Re: This ride meeting: 
CORC Scott24 2012
Jet Racing - Elite and Masters
Position (Overall): 
Race Category: 
Male 6
Position (Category): 

The Scott 24 – Jet Racing

These races are never really about 24hrs.
Its not even 48hrs - the 12hrs on each side of the event itself.

No - these races start weeks before the actual race. Building a team. Getting commitments from riders, and organising camping and tents and food and drinks and heaters and music (essential) and lights etc etc.

Jet Racing were in the fantastic position of having two teams of 6 entered. The Masters Team, (Paul, Wayne, Matt, Brian, Steve and Kane) and an Elite team.
There were a solid 4 committed to the Elite team - myself, Kyle, Garry and Jayden (only 15yrs old still), and then we had spots for two riders.
The empty spots arose for all manner or reasons - broken collarbones (Callum), broken training plans (Rob - got married - selfish bugger) and broken promises (a couple of people who said they would ride, but then just withdrew).
In the end, we were very lucky to have an excellent Jon Odams (BikeCulture) join us. Jon had very recently broken his collarbone, and had it pinned. It was held together with a doctors meccano set. His wife had given him permission to ride, but to be very careful….

So - we were a '5' (which included a young pup, and a half-broken ring-in). This was ok - but we knew that missing a 6th rider would haunt us. You just need the extra rest, if the other teams were taking it too.
Perusing the competition we saw that the GU team was basically a dream-team of riders - with National titles abound, one World MTB Champ, a US Pro XC Champ, local track knowledge and also full mechanical support - it would need to be a great team to beat them.
With them was the local team from Giant / Onyabike - all of whom were fast, knew the track and had full support (tents, mechanics etc). Hard to beat, and always quick at night.
Merida were there, Stevens bikes were there - it was loaded.

The weather on Friday looked like it was going to be horrific at the race. However, after passing snow-hills in Goulburn we soon hit the sunshine of Canberra. Getting to the track, we were able to build our tent area relatively quickly before heading off to the Crowne Plaza for one final good nights rest.
Typically, we would have ridden a lap of the track on the Friday, but it was still wet and we didn’t want to have clean the bikes again that night, so we agreed to ride 'blind' on Saturday.

Friday night saw both teams head out for dinner at an Italian of Kyles recommendation. Good conversation flowed and lots of talk of tactics and running orders filled the table.

Off to bed, a big buffet breakfast, and then to race site for 10am.

It was agreed that I would be the first man off. Agreed by everyone except me! Having studied politics, I was able to articulate the issue with a democratic process - numbers of votes might be one thing, but it doesn’t take into account the strength of the dissenting vote. No matter how strongly I felt about avoiding the running, and the ensuing XC style race for one lap - I couldn’t avoid it.

I would hand to Garry, who would pass to Kyle, to Jon to Jayden and back to me. We would ride 2 full cycles of single laps, then switch to doubles through the night, then back to singles on Sunday morning.

Stood on the start line, I reminisced about my background in Triathlon and how it reminded me of a 'beach start' Triathlon in France. The French were experts in dirty tactics on the sand for the 50m until you hit the surf, I remember countless times I was 'heel kicked / tap tackled / tripped'. I was just warning Dylan Cooper and Andy Fellows (Rockstar and Trek) of this, when the gun went.
We were off and running. Madness. A flat-out sprint.

I grabbed my bike from Garry - who was stood exactly where we agreed - thank god - and hopped on. I think I mounted in about 8th place. Everyone I expected was in front of me, as well as two guys who had run in their trainers, and not cycling shoes. The disadvantage of that tactic became apparent as they were clearly not used to the 'charging bulls' of the front of an Elite XC race coming behind them. Screaming at them, a few of us slipped around them and the group was formed on the fire trail of the blue loop. 6 of us. All the teams I have mentioned above. That was it. Then daylight.

Being a Marathon racer, I was aware that the fast start might cause me a bit of bother, but actually I felt fine. I sat in the group, and just kept calm. In 3rd wheel, one rider unclipped and with that both Dylan and Andy were gone. Its probably worth pointing out to those not used to Elite XC that it is literally ONE mistake like that, for only 5 seconds, that will cause the group to split - never to be together again.
So it was. We could always see Dylan, but we never got him back. Andy Fellows came back to us eventually with a km to go.

Handing over to Garry, we were all together - Jet, GU, Giant, Trek, Merida and just off the back was Stevens.

I really cant go into a blow by blow account of what happened on each lap, so to summarise the rest of the daylight hours of Saturday - GU rode into a lead. We moved into a clear 2nd place. A little mistake with the timing of a transition meant that we lost 2.5mins (you just cant afford to give that to a team like GU for free) and going into the night, they had 4mins on us. What it meant was that their riding, over 7hrs, was only 1.5mins faster than us. We thought "we could give them a race here - one puncture, and we'll haul them back"
Giant were back a bit, the rest were gone already.

Darkness fell. Rain fell. Ultimately spirits fell too. Jon had been riding some really fast laps - as fast as anyone in the race - but his collarbone was aching. The cold and damp, the stress of racing - it was all taking its toll. He came to the hard decision to withdraw from the team for 8hrs or so. We all understood, supported it, but realised what it meant. We were 3 men, and 1 boy going against some of Australias best night riders.
The gap to GU grew quickly. Giant - as we expected - went very fast at night. Knowing those tracks so well meant you could ride much faster in the dark. It was a huge advantage.
We pushed on though. Kyle did a massive effort. Instead of riding his double lap and handing to Jon, he went out, and rode a 'Quadruple'. Four laps, back to back, as fast as anyone else in the race.

I know that all the team feel the same as I do - it was a hero ride from Kyle. He really gave himself for the team cause.

A bit of detail for you all now. It was wet. The track was actually a mud bath. Horrendous conditions. Every lap needed full fresh kit. What it meant was that after every ride - whether it was a single, double, triple, or quadruple lap - the bike needed full cleaning. First thing you did. Tag your rider, go to the hose, rinse the bike, back to the tent, chain cleaner, degreaser, back to the hose with a brush and sponge, rinse. Back to the tent, lube, check. Only then could you change clothes, eat food, sleep. Having a mechanic to support is essential if you are there to really race at the front.

The morning came. The sun rose, and the warmth gave Jons collarbone a new lease of life. He was ready to ride again. Thank god - coz Kyle was looking like death!!

The reality was however that GU were GONE. Giant had 10mins lead on us. There were 6 hours to go. It might be possible. Behind us, was clear daylight. Stevens and Trek were two laps behind. There was no way they would catch us as long as we kept riding, no matter how slow we went.
We pushed on as a team. Swapping solo laps. Despite our best efforts, we couldn’t close into Giant, and with a few hours to go, we agreed that the best thing to do would just be to ride the laps, not fast, because we didn’t want to risk any disasters, but not slow. Just some tempo lapping.

At 11.55 Jon Odams came in from the red loop. We were a full hour ahead of the team behind us in 4th. He didn’t need to go out again. It would change nothing.
It’s a testament to the team spirit, and the vibe of the group that he rode to the tent, looked at us all - shattered, broken - and said "Boys, I'm going out again - I'm going to close it out". We cheered.
At 11.58, he hit the blue loop and rode a very fast lap. What a legend.

We finished in 3rd. 3rd in the 'Sixes'. 3rd overall too. Sure - we might have liked to have been a step up on the podium, but we were proud. As a team, we were united.

I've spoken of Kyle, and of Jon. To just give them their deserved credit, Jayden and Garry need a mention. Jayden. Where do I start….a 15yr old - he might be built like an adult, but never should it be forgotten that he is racing guys that ARE adults. He was under pressure - this was the first time he was asked to race 'with the big boys'. The first time he wasn’t either in a 'fun' team, or in a team where we was the strongest. Going into this race, he would have seen himself as the weakest link. The risk. If he did feel pressure, he never showed it. He rode like he belonged with the 'big boys' and frankly, he was hitting lap times that would put most to shame. He learnt some great lessons, and even in the space of 24hrs we all watched him grow into a better rider - more serious, but more relaxed at the same time. Watch out.
Garry - much has been made of his return from injury and breaking himself. I wont repeat it again here. We know how committed he is, we see his progress, but what we don’t always see is whether he doubts himself. This was a test. He hasn’t raced at night before, he hasn’t ridden at Canberra in anger in ages. Years. As far as his progression goes, I have never seen anything like it. His determination to ride every lap as fast as he can is infectious. Garry pinned it. Every. Time.

As a team - the Jet Elite team grew. We learnt. We will be back. There are already lap plans being talked about! It will take a lot to win The Scott next year - it being the 25th anniversary edition - and whether we win or not - I want to be part of that team again. Jon Odams will be back - as a guest. He is part of it now.

The Jet Masters - how well did they do? 3rd overall in the Masters! Many great rides and stories in there - crashes, punctures, missed alarm-clocks - I am sure there will be a report somewhere soon. What I can say from our perspective, was that it was great sharing the tent, the food, the mechanics, the heaters, the conversations at 3am, and of course, the sledges with them throughout the event.
It drew the best out of all of us. Kept us going, made us feel like we were part of something bigger.

The Scott 24. Two 3rds for Jet Racing is what the results will show. An unrecorded win for the team overall was how it really felt.

Thank you to all involved. It was Boss.

Logan's picture

I was looking at the results after racing on Sunday and saw that Kyle had done the the Quad or Double Double if you will. Really impressive stuff for sure.

Two 3rd's overall is impressive stuff mate, regardless so I would be pleased. It wouldn't be fun if it wen your way all of the time. You boys will be fast come the Fling thats for sure.

Brian's picture

Great write up Ant. I had a great time and it was definitely the most organized and comfortable 24hr camp I have had.

philberesford's picture

Great read Ant, really enjoyed reading it.

I heard the track was foul so what great results for both teams. Well done lads.

jp's picture

... And thanks for sharing once again. Sounds like we should have been down there with the cameras - would've made for a great doco. Maybe next year.

doc's picture

Congrats on the result ! Quite a weekend by the sounds of it with all the (un)expected challenges and the satisfaction of a team effort.

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