Friday, September 27, 2013

Pace and a rolled tub at the NSW State Champs

Sid leads the bunch - Photo Dave
The Manly Bike life festival at Sydney’s iconic beach of the same name was well attended by alternative lifestylers, with notable appearances from bakfiet riders, a bike powered juice machine, unicyclists and even the odd recumbent tandem.

Start line staunchness - Photo Dave
For the freaks of a different type the main event was the New South Wales State Championship, and lining up on the front row of the starting grid in my Gates Carbon Drive kit I was ready to bring some single-speed noise to the stacked geared field. Cross wise it has been a pretty consistent if unspectacular season , with a high of a 4th place at one of the Sydney championships and a 20th starting from dead last in a tough 60 strong Elite field for the National series rounds, both at Terrey Hills.

Ollie looks the wrong way - Dave
My form coming into the state champs was largely unknown. A month ago I had an amazing week of enduro racing in France at the Trans-Savoie, then a 760km bikepacking suffer fest at the Big Hurt in Newcastle, followed by a week of hotel bound spin-biking whilst in Papua New Guinea on work.
Chaos - Photo Phillip Gray
Turns out the spin bike did wonders and I darted off the line to slot into 3rd place just behind professional XC weapon and ex-olympian Sid Taberlay. For this first stretch of the race I had the strangest sensation of floating, with none of the suffering I normally associated with cross. Oddly I was going proper fast, as fast as I ever have in a CX race, and no amount of energy sapping sand runs nor momentum crushing off off-camber/uphill corners could rain on Sunday afternoon.

Ollie leads the sandy run - Photo Dave
Such was my feeling of pace that I had the audacity to attack our lead trio coming through the start finish line. Every lap I had seen the two in front sit up, and punching along the straight I pushed a gap of 50 metres, much to the support of the vocal crowd who, like me,  were sick of watching an off road bunch ride. Holding the lead on the run and through the twisty flat back of the course through the trees, it was one of these final corners which would prove my downfall . I pushed my front wheel too hard and rolled off my tubular tire, leaving me floundering in a cloud of very un-belgian dust. Damn.

Antics (and facials) like this cost Ollie the lead - Photo David Rome

Photo evidence of the 'gap' - Photo Dave
A quick analysis revealed the tire was well untruly unstuck, as was my race, and with nothing left to do I shouldered the bike and ran as smoothly as one can in Sidi Dragons to the pits for a lightning wheel change. Back rolling, the ethereal feeling of earlier had gone, whether through the effect of the run or more likely the psychological deflation of doing so well only to let it all slip away.
Barrier of doom - Photo Phillip Gray
To be perfectly frank I’m not all that gutted about what happened and am simply stoked to have a glimpse of the good form that seems to have evaded me since I took up long distance riding in earnest. Through a combination of holidays, the French alps and labored exertion in the prison like confines of the Crowne Plaza, I stung together an solid if incomplete performance.  Not being one to waste a good opportunity, I’ve signed up for the WEMBO 24 hour Worlds in Canberra. After last year’s Scott 24 I vowed to return with a proper (Rohloff and belt drive equipped) bike and give the elite category a nudge. Heidi and a friend Venetia are on board for support, and with a bit of luck I’ll be able to stay awake and eat enough to keep me going for the full 24 hours.

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