The 2018 mountain biking plan started well, MTB racing 13 days into the new year!
This race (Round 3 Saturday, of the MTBA National Cross Country “XCO” Race Series) covered the Commonwealth Games tracks which seemed a unique experience, and it’s close to home which was convenient.
Nerang is known for being rocky, little did I know they would push us through the rockiest of bits! I nearly turned out like the guy in the feature image (he survived, photo via MTBA).
The category I raced with my friend was Masters 2 consisting of 11 racers, no one we could gather was local which says they were smart enough to a) know the track was horrible b) knew it would be far too hot!!!
You couldn’t blame the bike for any shortcomings, it was definitely all about the rider.
Let’s set the scene:
- Back of the Gold Coast in a valley the base of a mountain, very dusty
- 38 degrees, feels like… 40+?
- Race start 12:30 pm.. Hottest part of the day
- Scorching ground, air and skin. OK you got it.
The race started with a small sprint but nothing aggressive and everyone found their spot, soon pushing up a decently lumpy fire trail climb along side of the main single track, with small diversions in to the bush just for fun(?).
After the climb it entered a single track black run “GC Comm Games Loop 2” which started along a contour before a sharp climb-corner with rocks. Had to walk this bit. The next corner 5m away equally steep and banked – also walked. Then a rock hop-up that I’d struggle doing on the flat doing – also walked! So off the bike barely 10mins in and pushing like it was Cyclocross!
A flat section had a few obstacles and a narrow tree gap before the first flying down berms of swinging corners, a downhill hop and excruciating-sounding front chainring grind over a small rocky ledge (bike ouch!) – then 2 sweeping turns facing us back up hill.
More walking starts. There’s a couple of steep switchbacks split by a 2 hill ramp options – neither rideable for this average soul.
There’s a large rock garden corner requiring careful navigation around its sharp bend, then a huge ledge which I somehow survive the drop off. The undulations back to the top of Loop 1 are eventful, but that’s MTB’ing.
The next assault down GC Comm Games Loop 1 is the ‘fun’ downhill part with lots of pumping small successive bumps, intertwined between the larger jumps. The pro’s took 2 jumps at a time, I was content with 1. Launching too fast off one large jump my right foot unclipped out of the pedal as I was coming into land, and I uncontrollably hit the seat between my legs (ouch), bounced off the back and hit my inner-thigh with the tyre (ouch) then strained my glutes controlling what was left of the landing as I hung off the back left running the bike like superman out-stretched clamped onto the handle bars!
Past a flat bitumen of the pits it was the final bush loop, Comm Games #3, where a short tracking out became very long as the pace fell, soon coming back down the main Course uneventfully, then across the manmade see-saw of small hills built adjoining the crit track start/finish line.
Lap 2, 3 & 4 reflected the above, with a few additional notable issues: 1- felt like I was going to vomit! Too fast on the first lap in the extreme heat had me absolutely buggered on lap two, 2- I’d forgotten my gloves and the excessive sweat had me struggling to grip the handlebars 3- One misjudged downhill section saw me cork my left hamstring (ouch) , 4- Back tyre wasn’t high enough/leaked and I needed to stop in the pits and pump it back up (lesson learned) 5- The heat! My energy was sapped it was and I was exhausted and sore, it turned into a matter of just turning the pedals over and trying not to crash as laziness onset and form deteriorated… It wasn’t a race anymore.
Finishing 1h and 9mins after starting the end was more than welcomed. I felt so unwell and no help that I’d had half a water bottle the whole race! Soon after finishing I was dizzy, and absolutely shattered like I’d fallen off a cliff after a sugar rush.
One hell of a race! That was it; my first go at trying to be a MTB hero in the National XCO series.. And what a go it was…