I was keen for a podium at this year’s Nationals, being a home course and not having bothered with the Adelaide version for a few years. With my fresh new XTC 29er, with crazy light Stans rims and Fox forks all primed, I had no excuses. I finally got a taper week in and the legs felt good. And doing the Thredbo national round to get some points for this start grid worked well. I was third row.
The start was pretty cruisy, with a lot of chopping and positioning going on. I tried to hold back and save energy for the techo stuff – the Cardiac-Hammerhead run across the top of the ridge to the big blue bridge, which led into the new big-bermed Luge. With a few over-keen riders around, it was bound to happen – I was held up on lap one and lost a minute to the lead group. It was frustrating, but once clear I easily jumped across to the group ahead, passed them and got into third. I may have used more energy than I should’ve though, as Taberlay and big PVDP kept on me. We tussled for the rest of the race, until cramps hit me harder. My legs clearly weren’t used to this XC intensity, even though I had the energy and drank enough. But I ‘nursed’ the legs up the climbs and gained it back on the downhills to make a good, fun race out of it. It was great to mix it up with the boys, even though I couldn’t finish it off.
I was extra happy to make it up the steep and loose Cardiac climb the last time without stopping with cramps. Then rolling down the last descent, knowing I’d held 5th, I just enjoyed the corners and jumps while thinking that it was great to have ‘raced’ rather than just ridden the course. The Stromlo track was a real race track, with plenty of fun stuff along the way, which made me want to do it again. A good sign of a well-designed track (CORC can take the credit for this from a while ago for Worlds).
I still need to sort the cramping issue, which is a ‘conditioning’ thing, but having a solid race and feeling good in it makes me keen to keep building up for the next few. I recommend anyone who wants to improve their (climbing and descending) skills ride this loop and try to do it without ‘dabbing’. Any rider will bump up a level doing that tech stuff.
Despite the main line being filled in with concrete, I still preferred the inside/left line on Hammerhead at Nationals. Using Cardiac-Hammerhead at this year’s Nationals was the first good decision MTBA have made for a while (mind you they needed a lot of pressure from a few riders).
Also check out Cycling Central’s brief (with pretty camera work) report of the event.