Holiday mode – with no racing under the belt for months and little training at all, a holiday on the border of Qld and NSW seemed appropriate. Kick back, unwind and enjoy the warmth of the north with family and friends. But knowing how I get after lazing around for more than a couple of days, I decided to take my bike and see if the Narang trails near Gold Coast are as good as reported.
Rich P and I tied in a day trip with a stop off at the trails, starting just behind the Narang Velodrome. Looking at the hill above us it seemed to be a small area. We expected to do many laps of a small circuit to get a descent ride in. As soon as we hit the trails we could tell they were excellent. A mix of flow and techo. Even better, as we hit the top of the first hill we realised there was a huge valley behind, with the trails going for ages. Turns out we could have played in there for hours, maybe even get lost. We didn’t have time to fully explore, but we did have a great ride.
After only 3hrs sleep it was time to get up and sit on the other side of the fence for once – my fiancee Michelle was racing the Gold Coast Half Marathon (the purpose of our trip). I’ve done City to Surf and that was the same – massive! It was strange to be hanging at a race of any sort, but not participating. I’m not much of a spectator, but luckily I had my little girl to distract me and keep me busy while mum raced. She got a PB, which inspired me to investigate a race that was mentioned the previous day.
The Sunshine Series MTB XC races have a great rep. Well organise, fun courses, strong fields, and nice locations. I worked out I had just enough time to get back to our hotel, grab my wheels and head to Hinze Dam to get my race fix. It was nice to not have to pack jackets, arm warmers etc. Not having my GUs and electrolytes was going to make things tough, but hopefully it’d just be a short race.
Rocking up to the dam where the race start was it seemed to be a pretty good set up and everyone was really welcoming. I did a quick warm up (feeling very sort from a few beach soccer sessions) to get things going and kept the fluids cranking. It’s been a while since I rode in the heat, but it felt so good. It definitely made warming up easy, which came in handy off the line, as I moved up and took an A line in the first single track to get the lead. This wasn’t my plan though, as I wanted to hold back and follow the locals to get a preview of the track and also ensure I didn’t pop early. I really wasn’t sure how unfit I was and how long I’d last.
In the end I forgot about any plan or pacing. The Hinze Dam track was way too much fun and I just forgot about everything except railing turns and hammering the small pinches that covered the track. It was a fantastic course. But with this holiday mode approach came dehydration and depletion. I was having too much fun to think about drinking and I didn’t have any food. So I definitely felt it in the last couple of laps. I didn’t mind though, as I held the lead with no problems and took the win ahead of my Qld based team mate Ethan Kelly. The track must have suited Treks.
Heading home I thought about how fun the smaller races are, whether you’re using them for training, seeing new tracks, just the pure enjoyment of racing, a fun day outdoors, or going for the win. You get to take them for what they are – relaxed, social and casual – and don’t feel pressure. Given the time of year, it was a healthy level of racing to join in on. I was impressed with the event and wished I was around for more. I’ll have to come up north again next winter.