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Stromlo, Kowan and even Val di Fassa.....

Antsonline's picture

By Antsonline - Posted on 09 September 2013

Re: This ride meeting: 
Shimano MTB GP - Round 5
Position (Overall): 
Position (Category): 

Last weekend most of Australian MTB watched on in awe and delight - Paul VDP dominating the Eliminator, and the Aussie Downhillers showing they really are the best in the world. It felt like it would be something of a comedown this weekend I thought to be heading out to Canberra for the final round of the Shimano GP Rnd 4.
How wrong I was.
As the week preceeding passed, more and more 'names' were signing up for the race. Kyle Ward (Rockstar) and I had discussed how it would be nice to have a relatively easy race, given our weeks training load. We were shattered. Obviously, no-one else got that memo....
Friday night spent at the Crown Plaza was, as usual, perfect. We woke on Saturday, had a nice breaky, and went to Stromlo.
The course was a new one - and I wont go into the ins and outs of it - but we went up to Skyline 'the other way'. I was excited. It seemed like the climbing would be a bit tougher, and that suited me fine.
On the startline I looked around at the quality of the field. Holy Smokes. The level of this race was at least as high as one of the 'big marathons'.
The Swell Specialized team were there (minus one rider - but more of that later) - Blair and Lewis - were there. Sebastian Jayne, Andy Hall, Ed McDonald, Troy Herfoss, Luke Dale, Dylan Cooper, James Lamb. Then the teams - Mark 'Tupac' Tupalski (one of the most under-rated riders in the country), Brad Morton - I could go on, but you get the picture.
Gun goes, we all roll-out, and its 'on' from the gun.
It never ceases to amaze me how people mis-judge their pace on these things. Its a 4hr race. That means riding for more than 4hrs - typically. I am in about 6th or 7th position, with a line of people behind me. I can see the front, but have no intention of going anywhere near it.
The amount of 'advice' I was getting to speed up (etc) was astonishing. Everyone feels fast in the first lap - but seriously, trust me - it'll be ok to start a little bit conservative.

Without going too far into the details of my race, I had a bit of mechanical trouble, a bit of mental trouble, and also some skill deficiency! It resulted in me taking a few moments on track-side every now and again to 'collect' my thoughts, before resuming the racing - hence my inconsistent lap times.

Up front, Andy Blair had started as expected - like a shot. I knew what Kyles plan was, and was delighted to see him, at about 2hrs into the race, a good 3-5mins behind. At about 3 hrs in, he made his move. As planned.
Pretty much within the space of one lap, he had caught and passed the front of the race at a rate that would shock even the best elite riders in Australia. Kyle rode on to take the win comfortably, with Andy Blair in 2nd, and Shaun Lewis in 3rd. I came in 4th. The result and podium photo of the 4 of us - Swell Spec sandwiched by Kyle and myself was great.

The Rocky Trail series is a great way to rce throughout the year, to practice new race tactics, to learn to ride XC courses under race conditions, and also to get out there and have some fun. Martin and Juiliana are always happy and keen to take on feedback from the riders, and as a result, you can always be sure that their races will develop and grow. I've been delighted to be part of the series this year.

So - back to the 'inspiration' of the weekend. Kyles ride was a great result. Sure - its hardly the World Champs, but it has been a long time coming. Frustration, disappointment - all of those things can either break you down, or build greater resolve. For Kyle it has pushed him on further. Rockstar, Giant bikes, and also Shimano have a great amabassador.
Whilst we were all busy racing our own little 'champs' at Stromlo, the missing member of Swell Spec, Jenny Fay, was over in Italy racing the UCI XCM marathon at Val di Fassa. This is the highest level of marathon racing in the world. She only went and won it! So - for all the downhillers and the Paul VDP's - which were amazing performances - this weekend has shown that closer to home, its still happening. Riders are producing amazing performances - training on the trails you know, at the races you attend, doing the hard yards - to become the best in the world.

Brian's picture

Seems like an awesome weekend all up. It would have been so cool watching at transition seeing the difference when the top 5 rolled through finishing the 7th lap and the difference after the next 2 laps. Kyle's 8th lap being his fastest and keeping the same pace for the following lap. Awesome stuff.

ps's picture

Ant, I had a look at Kyle's lap times yesterday and was impressed how consistent they were. Then I saw Andy and Dylan's times and understood they started fast. From the times it looks like Blairy was a bit broken at the end and didn't head out for the last lap.

jp's picture

Another great write-up Anthony. With your record in coaching / mentoring I'm expecting big things after Sept. 28/29. One weekend of coaching should do it, right?

Pete B's picture

Agreed, another interesting and in depth report. Always good to read.

Congrats to Jenny too, you must be really proud!

Antsonline's picture

@PeteB - yes, Jenny has always been capable of that sort of ride. Not many people beleived me. Or her. We kept it a bit of a secret. I cant really take much credit for her ride - she is now coached by Mark Fenner, who has clearly done a great job. I am very proud though. There is more to come however.
One interesting note - she sent me a message about the race, and said "I was at the front, climbing with some of the lead guys, when a little italian girl rode up next to me, looked at me, and then sprinted off up the hill at a pace I never seen before...."
Jen rode across to her in the following 50km, but holy smokes, if there are girls out there capable of doing that to her on a hill, I'm glad I'm not racing them!!

@JP - on a similar note to PeteB - I'd love to take the credit for Kyles ride this weekend, for Jennys, for Garry Millburns comeback from his accident, and for Dicko's national championship medal - but I cant. They do the hard work, they go through it on race day. They plan, and execute the racing. I'm there to help facilitate that. If there is a common theme running through all of them its not my involvement, its their own quiet (or loud in Garrys case!) determination and persistance.
All of them will be bigger, stronger, and faster this year - as will I.
Looking forward to the weekend camp - please keep telling your mates about it!

jp's picture

Will do Anthony - one of my mates has signed up already.

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