Tag Archives: mtb

Race Report: The Willo 2016

The James Williamson Enduro, or “The Willo” is more than just the first race of the 2016 National XCM Series – it’s a celebration of the life of James Williamson, which was so tragically cut short due to an undiagnosed heart condition in 2010 while racing the Cape Epic.

This year the Willo had special meaning for me too – only the day before I lost a good friend in Chris Perry. Affectionately known as B1, Chris was a life member of the Sydney Easy Riders and staple on the daily ride to and from work.

Deep in the damp and misty woods, a sizeable women’s field assembled on the start line. A podium spot was going to be hard to come by with the likes of locals Kwan, Bechtel and Henderson, international sensation Sheppard and interstate travellers Smith, Anset, Bartlett and Hughes all forming a tight little bunch heading into the single-track early.

The men’s race was going to be just as hard to pick, with Johnston, Blair, Cooper, Shippard, Lewis, Odams and Wards Tristan and Kyle all fighting it out amongst the natural eucalyptus and plantation pine.

Dry and dusty the day before, the overnight rain and morning mist had left the Wingello trails in excellent condition. While mud and grit coated both riders and bikes, the air was cool and the corners grippy, leading to some very quick laps of the 25km course (about an hour for the boys and 75-80mins for the ladies). Predominantly single-track with a few connecting fireroads, the laps were both enjoyable and difficult at the same time.

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With my S-Works Era, now fitted with Shimano’s XTR Di2 groupset

The Willo also saw the debut of my new Shimano XTR Di2 groupset – meticulously installed on the S-Works Era frame not even a week before at Cyclery Northside. XTR Di2 brings electronic shifting to the mountain bike arena, after much success on the road. Unlike the road version however, XTR Di2 has been beefed up to perform in the conditions faced by mountain bike riders – the sandy, muddy, wet, rocky, dusty and messy environment we love so much!

Shifting was crisp, fast and accurate from start to finish, even in the dirty, gritty conditions. I’m not always the most conscientious shifter either – changing gears under pressure is something I tend to do on occasion – which didn’t seem to be an issue for the rear derailleur at any stage. I was also a fan of the definite “click” each up or down shift made – which is a bit more overstated compared to my road set-up. All in all, I was really impressed and can’t wait to put some more miles on it!

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Covered in mud and grit – the rear mech still worked perfectly

Back to the women’s race – Samara Sheppard backed up a very quick lap one to finish clear ahead of the rest. Continuing her excellent form from the Snowies MTB Festival and Duo Classic, Cristy Henderson finished second with myself not far behind in third (after an extensive back and forth battle with Kelly Bartlett, which saw us trade places a number of times).

The 25km loop we rode three times had an especially unpleasant climb at the end, officially designated as the King of the Mountain (KOM). It was literally the final effort before the finish straight and had photographers at the top (hence the image at the top of the page). I was going so slowly up it the final time, with my head practically between my legs, that I could see the leeches on the ground waving away looking to latch on to anything living! I was completely boxed – everything had been left out there.

Brendan Johnston won the men’s race, with Andy Blair in second and in an awesome result, Jon Odams took third. Great to see him back from injury and riding to his potential!

Overall it was a great way to kick off the National Marathon racing season. It was especially pleasing to see so many women out on the trails – not just in the elite category, but across the age groups and the shorter distances. Special shout out to Charlotte Culver who kept the rubber side down and took the win in the 25km Open category!

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Thanks to Meg Patey and all the volunteers, officials and the community for hosting another well run, successful event. Till next year!

The Hellfire Cup 2015

I have been eagerly waiting all year to pack my bags, jump on a plane and race the Hellfire Cup – a four day stage race based in Kellevie, Tasmania. There have been many stories centred on the awesome trails, the party atmosphere and the variety presented across eight unique stages – but what really drew me to this race was simply the fact that everyone who had previously raced Hellfire absolutely LOVED it.

Eight Sydney-siders, all representing Cyclery Northside and Cuore, flew down the day prior to get acquainted with our beautiful accommodation in the wee town of Dunalley, nestled on the east coast of Tasmania. Tragically, this small fishing village of ~300 people lost over 60 buildings in ravaging bushfire in 2013 – our B&B was one of few buildings that magically survived. Very humbling.  (As a side note, it’s great that the sport can bring tourism money into small regional towns and communities like this one).

I was partnered up in the Elite Mixed Pairs with possibly the fastest chicken in the world – Nathan “Chooko” Russell. Already naturally gifted on the mountain bike, he had been training the house down. Also with us were Peter and a slightly unhinged South African (known as Beau), Vicky and Tegan (another erratic personality) and Linda and Drew (more commonly known as Frickie). Needless to say the house was rarely quiet and the banter flowed more freely than the beer, wine and oysters (quite the feat).

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Nathan throwing his bike around one of the many dusty berms

Day 1, Stage 1 – 25km Cross Country
The opening act for the 2015 Hellfire Cup was a 25km cross country stage with a good mix of everything – from dry and twisty single-track to damp forest, some rocky sections and some fast dirt roads.

As with most short stages, the sprint was on from the moment the race started. Nathan – not having raced for eight years and currently as fit as a Mallee bull – took off like a bullet out of a gun, leaving me fighting for position in the early single-track sections. After working incredibly hard to catch him, realising I had caught Beau instead (he was looking particularly slim that day), blowing up and then crashing (and thus passed by Beau), we didn’t reunite until about the 20km mark. Probably not the best start to a teams event, but there was a great deal of racing still to go. We were just finding our feet.

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A picture of suffering, complete with blood.

Day 1, Stage 2 – 4 x 6.5km Relay
Physically patched up and mentally bolstered, we prepared for the afternoon relay stage. As with most of the elite mixed teams, the male rider went first to battle it out in the heavy traffic, which Nathan did superbly, coming in and tagging me a few minutes behind the leading riders. I would spend the next 20 minutes at threshold, trying to hold off Peter, before doing it all again. The shorter the stage, the more it hurts (my heart rate was so high the vibration scared away the wildlife) – however I did take a moment to admire the rainforest section and the aptly named tunnel of love (followed closely by a tight right to double check you were paying attention)

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Even Linda could only manage a half smile, too busy trying to get air into her lungs

Day 2, Stage 3 – 50km Cross Country
A longer stage with a great deal of elevation was always going to better suit Nathan and I, given my discipline of choice is the 100km marathons and we both weigh about as much as a carton of eggs. After Pete and Beau made a strong start, we caught them on the first long hill and formed a little “banana train” for much of the race.

Unfortunate circumstances (some local decided it would be funny to change bunting and signage) meant that as the banana train was navigating through a particularly tight section of single-track, it was suddenly descended upon by almost the entire elite men’s field. Before we had realised they had neutralised the stage, we did contemplate a few abrupt stops and potentially lying across the track, just to witness the culminating domino effect.

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Day two was especially (uncommonly?) hot and much of the climbing in the back half of the course was done up open and exposed dirt roads, testing your fitness, hydration and ability to put on sunscreen prior to starting. Working together, Nathan and I put in a much improved result, even after stopping to check on the welfare of a rider who had foolishly tried to follow some cowboys down a descent and thrown himself into a tree (he was OK and finished the race). 

Has anyone seen these cowboys? Known to ride recklessly.
Has anyone seen these cowboys? Known to ride recklessly.

Day 3, Stage 4 – 15km Team Time Trial
The team time trail was structured just like it would be on the road, with teams leaving 30 seconds apart and completing a hilly 15km. Having just taken out Stage 2 ahead of Nathan and I, this meant that Beau and Pete were poised to start 30 seconds behind us in the time trial. Having discovered this information artefact over red wine and dinner the night before, confidence and a certain air of presumption set in with the boys, who were most convinced they would catch us.

Determined not to be caught, the team time trial was a phenomenal display of courage and tenacity, as the rabbit and the chicken fought to stay away from the chasing hounds. By this time in the race, our partnership had really started to solidify, with the pace adjusting automatically without a word said either way.

Nathan driving it along a section of road, with me absolutely in the box.
Nathan driving it along a section of road, with me absolutely in the box.

I don’t recall much of it, but the course went past an especially stunning piece of coastline. Coming down the final stretch to the roar of the crowd was a great moment, especially when Tegan, Vicky and Linda had figured out we had managed to stay away.  For the moment, bragging rights were back with us.

Finishing in style, I think.
Finishing in style, I think.

Day 3, Stage 5 – 2x9km Relay
Stage 5 was another relay stage, which although longer (9km) than the first, thankfully had only one leg per rider. By this time of the race (especially considering the events of the morning),  things were really starting to feel tired and sore. Even after a relaxing massage (Beau almost cried), 9km at full gas was going to really, really hurt.

This 9km was a combination of some of the best trails the Hellfire Cup had to offer, including a rather narrow and very long (100m perhaps?) plank bridge. While I had visions of coming down on the adjacent rails holding it up, I was across in one piece. Another close stage, with not much time gained or lost across all teams.   

The African appears to be lost?

Day 3, Stage 6 – 10km Hill Climb Night Stage
I never planned on doing the Hill Climb stage. It was completely optional after all – and I had left my lights back in Sydney. Optional stages didn’t really appeal to me at this stage of my season (i.e. the end, where I am in exhaustion phase), let alone ones up really steep hills, let alone it being the third stage on the third day. About 15 minutes before it was meant to start, this all changed.

My ever supportive team had heard the women’s field for the stage was quite small. Thus the ever supportive team, lead by chief instigator and general nuisance, Tegan, decided I was going to contest the stage. Suddenly I was back in Lycra, there were lights on my helmet and bike (Tegan managed to acquire them from a random rider with promises in kind), I had consumed a can of Coke and I was on the start line next to Peta Mullens. What just happened?!

How did I get here again?
How did I get here again?

After pulling a rather reckless overtaking manoeuvre and probably surprising Peta early in to the stage, I had the lead through much of the early single-track. Knowing I had one of the best riders in the country on my wheel, I did all I could to try and make this 6km hard for her, including breaking hard in corners to kill momentum, whipping up lots of dust to make visibility difficult and generally riding all over the place whenever it opened up.

I had Peta Mullens on the hill climb stage, well, until it got to the hill. We both hit it hard and were neck and neck for the first 20 meters. I looked up to see a big bonfire in the distance (it seemed REALLY distant), just as Peta hit the jets and took off up the steep, endless climb. In the end I was just under a minute behind her, finishing second. I did take the points for the best cheer squad though.  

Day 4, Stage 7 – 3km Hill Climb
We woke up on Day 4 to another hill climb. This hill was just as steep as the one I did last night, but starts about 10 meters into the stage (and everyone has to do it, not just me). Once you crest the monster, which few will do without getting off at some point, you fly back down again, navigate through a bumpy rock garden and cross the finish line.

Better hope you did a warm up, the hill starts almost instantly
Better hope you did a good warm up, the climb starts almost instantly

The rock garden was the most technical feature of the stage. While the line through it was simply straight, it had an awkward lead in and had you bucking like a bronco on the exit. While there was a B-line, which was utilised by some, most of the team rode it well, with the exception of one rider, who did his best impression of a giraffe practising ballet.

I'm just going to leave this here.
I’m just going to leave this here.

Day 4, Stage 8 – Dirt Crit
To finish Hellfire for 2015, the field was split in two and a fast and furious crit circuit was constructed which included part of a motocross track. Pete and Beau actually lead the whole field off the start, proceeded to spectacularly blow up and finished with their trademark reckless abandonment.

Nathan and I crossed the line together signalling the end of our Hellfire experience.  We didn’t have the best start, but we corrected that quickly and finished on a high. I’m pretty proud to be part of the reason he pinned on a race plate again. I couldn’t have asked for a better race and training partner!

Dirt crits are AWESOME
Dirt crits are AWESOME

Overall, a fantastic event and one you need to add to your bucket list if you ride mountain bikes. Duncan, Sarah and the entire Hellfire Team put in so much effort and under very challenging circumstances (with Sarah involved in a serious accident a few months prior) and delivered a really enjoyable 4 days. Every participant you spoke to, from elite riders to punters, had an unbelievably good time. We have already booked accommodation for the next Hellfire Cup, scheduled to run in 2017!

Product Test: C-BEAR Bottom Brackets

As cyclists, we have a tendency to spend a ridiculous amount of time (and money) on making our bikes faster.  Lighter frames, stiffer wheels, improved aerodynamics, taking out weight and maintaining a highly efficient drive-train are all arguably easier than giving up wine, chocolate and pastries right?

As an competitive racer, I do try to stay on top of my weight and body composition (no point being skinny if you are not strong) and in parallel to that, I train hard to improve my strength and fitness – but gains are gains – so I am always looking for ways to make the machine between my legs as quick as it can be.

I was very excited when the brown package covered in all sorts of stamps and marks turned up from Belgium – containing a brand new C-BEAR bottom bracket for my mountain bike.

My S-Works Era is running a 1×11 setup consisting of a SRAM XX1 rear cassette, XX1 rear derailleur, carbon cranks and now a PraxxisWorks 32T chain ringI usually put a new chain on at the first signs of wear and I am absolutely meticulous about making sure the whole setup is clean and lubricated before every big ride or race. A clean bike is a fast bike!

In all honesty, the one aspect I have previously overlooked has been the bottom bracket and bearings. Maybe this is because unless it’s making horrible noises you don’t really acknowledge the existence of your bottom bracket. It also seems to be a bit mysterious, especially for a beginner or someone with only a basic level of mechanical knowledge.

However when you consider the role this important part plays in the transfer of power and overall drivetrain efficiency, it quickly becomes clear that a good bottom bracket is critical. That and bottom bracket creaking can seriously drive you insane!

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Installing the new C-BEAR bottom bracket was straight forward – the boys at Cyclery Northside literally just pressed it in and put the drivechain back together (leaving me bemused with how rotten by old bearings were).  Given C-BEAR makes a wide range of specific bottom bearings (over 70 different combinations), the need to fiddle with adapters to make it fit is greatly reduced.

Once on, the cranks were spinning with practically no resistance.  It didn’t occur to me that my old bottom bracket was bad until I had the new one on – which instantly felt amazing. It is also as quiet as a little church mouse (C-BEAR pride themselves on making a super quiet product), which is more than can be said about my pedals at the moment.

The first big test for the new BB was the Kowalski – a dry and dusty race though 100km of single-track.  C-BEAR not only make products with incredibly low friction, but they have a range of specific mountain bike bottom brackets which give extra protection against water and dirt – which as every mountain bike rider knows, has a way of getting in every small nook and cranny.

Since a flawless performance at the Kowalski, I’ve done a few hundred kilometres in a variety of conditions (including mud, water, sand and dust). I have two mountain bike marathons and a stage race this month, so there are many more opportunities to put it through it’s paces. A long term review is definitely on the cards, although given C-BEAR offer a two year warranty, I have confidence I’ll still be happy in six months time.

So far, I have been incredibly happy with C-BEAR’s product. Apparently so has the Andre Gripel and the Lotto Soudal professional team, who have been using them for years.

If you are looking for high performance bearings for your high performance bike (road, mountain or cyclocross), visit the C-BEAR website. They don’t have an Australian distributor just yet, but it is easy enough to buy online and either install it yourself or like me, get your local shop to do it.

Finding the right bottom bracket for your bike can be bewildering – for Specialized bikes, C-BEAR have created a Quick Reference Guide that makes it simple to identify which one you need. This Chart can also be of help for other brands and models.

Race Report: Bayview Blast 100km

The final act of the MTBA National Series took riders north to Brisbane for the Bayview Blast. Hosted by South Brisbane MTB Club and in only its second year, I must admit that I didn’t know much about the types of trails I would encounter when I finalised my entry.

Flying up to Brisbane a few days early gave me some time to familiarise myself with the race course, which was 4 laps of a 25km single-track loop (with about 3km of fire road). My plan was also to try and acclimatise, but my first few days in Brisbane were overcast and fairly mild – well and truly putting a spanner in that plan.

Being up in Brisbane early also gave me a bit of time to play hotel mechanic (after customs and baggage handlers seemingly went to town on my bike bag) and be a tourist, visiting the amazing North Stradbroke Island, the Brisbane CBD and a few lovely spots around the river, including Kangaroo Point.

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A bit of hotel mechanics

Going into the Bayview Blast, I was sitting in a position whereby a win on the day would see me take the overall MTBA National Series. Regardless of having far exceeded my own lofty expectations in my first season of elite racing, the excitement (and nerves!) of everything being on the line were well and truly in play as I devoured my pasta dinner on Saturday night.

Fast forward and I’m relatively relaxed on the start line. Poking fun at Jason English’s helmet camera (tree hook) with some of the elite men meant the hooter went off in no time and we were set off down 1km of bitumen at a very moderate pace. A small climb worked to filter the field into single file and we were off into the single-track.

Imogen Smith made a bit of a move on the first climb, one which I was hesitant to follow so early into the race. With 95km to go, I thought better of it and was comfortable to sit a minute or so behind and do the first lap swapping wheels with local gun, Anna Beck. It was beautiful to watch her gracefully glide over logs, flick her back wheel and generally navigate the loose, tight and twisty course like an absolute pro. Unlike me, who at one stage “swapped off” by completely missing a turn and ending up careering into dense foliage instead.

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Anna and I came into transition together, but I think a misunderstanding with her crew meant that I had a small gap upon exiting the pits and by the top of the first switchback climb, had opened it up a bit more.  I figured she was probably smooth enough to catch me through the tighter single-track sections, so continued on my own. That was the last I saw of her.

Lap two is where I started to catch some of the teams, which made it a bit awkward at times, since passing on some of the sections was near impossible without one rider pulling over. To their credit though (and thanks to the organisers being very clear with race instructions), most people got out of your way relatively quickly.

It’s probably no later than 9:30 in the morning, but a major issue had started to creep in to my race in the heat, humidity and my lack of bottles. I can only carry one and had planned for 700ml every lap, which was nowhere near enough on a day where my Garmin was reporting 31 degrees. After 10km of lap two I was running empty and thirsty. It would be another hour or so before I get another 700ml, which although I rationed, meant that I was pretty dehydrated for 75% of the race.

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I did actually contemplate drinking from a muddy puddle (or licking the mud off my arm as it splashed up). I think this just goes to show:

a) You think about some very strange things racing
b) I was really, really thirsty
c) Dehydration really impacts your ability to think laterally

It was a fatal flaw not to throw in a Camelbak for one of the laps – those riders who did said it made a world of difference. For me, it meant I really struggled and it probably cost me a shot at the win.

I had a few little clashes with trees – the nature of the course meant that one small moment of distraction (at race speed) usually meant you were going to hit something. I have bark etchings on the front of both my shoulders from hitting trees in a really tight, tricky, woody section leading in to Shark Fin.

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Trees were the least of my worries though, when on lap three (after having a gel and a small swig of my rationed water) a snake reared up right underneath me as I was flying down a fire-trail descent. Catching me completely off guard (seriously dude, there is a race on), I instinctively swerved, lost my front wheel in the gravel and shot myself out of the saddle and down the hill, sans bike, which had somehow ended up in the other direction.

Broken, dehydrated and bleeding, I wasn’t going to give in. It was only really on the last descent where I didn’t see Imogen that I knew she had secured the win and I had to settle with second in this race and therefore second in the National Series (5 points behind Jenny Blair).

Photo by Russ Baker
Broken and disappointed. Photo by Russ Baker

Seriously well done to Imogen, who dealt with the conditions well and after a few big races recently, turned up with her A-Game to win her local Queensland event.  A big thanks also to the South Queensland MTB Club and other event organisers, volunteers and sponsors.

Bayview is a wicked trail – it is so varied in terrain, with switch-back climbs, twisty grassland trails (coined “Grugland” by Imogen), challenging wooded areas, the amazing “corridor” lined with dense scrub, rocky sections, open sections and saving the best till last, the final 2km descent consisting of berm after berm, doubles, kickers and high adrenaline fun! It’s not even that far from Brisbane – make sure you poke your head in if you are up that way.

Race Report: 3 Ring Circus

Last weekend in the Southern Highlands it was snowing. That cold, damp, white stuff that as a Sydneysider, I am rather unfamiliar with. Anyone that rides with me knows that I don’t mind the cold (I refuse to wear leg warmers) and am a regular participant on bleak morning rides around Sydney in the middle of winter. That said, it doesn’t snow in Sydney.

As luck would have it, one week changed everything. Sydney had it’s warmest winter weekend in years and the Southern Highlands followed suit, with clear skies and a sunny disposition. There were some relatively strong winds hanging around, but riding in the forest tends to shelter you from such things.

A self seeding start line meant the front line was dominated by the enthusiastic men aiming to complete the 50km race in close to 2 hours. Behind them sat another group of riders who thought they would give it a pretty good crack. I was perched behind these gentlemen, fully intending to use them as a giant wind block for the first 6km of the Blue loop. Just in front of me was Rachel Blakers – one of the big hitters in the women’s field. Also in the vicinity were some of the SXC and Northside riders (who, unbeknownst to them, I would use as yardsticks to test my current form).

The “Circus Ringmaster” set us off. After a slower start, I iteratively moved up the field, latching on to small groups where I could. I remember passing Rachel, but didn’t spend much time checking my shoulder this early into the race. As much as I tried to hang on, I had lost sight of Gary and Dave from SXC early. Jaycon (also sporting the marvellous Cyclery Northside kit) passed me on a downhill and broke away. It’s not uncommon for me to be passed or dropped on descents – but my 56kg frame does make up for it when it’s time to climb.

Flying through the first transition, I hear over the loudspeaker that I am leading the women’s field, although I assume it isn’t by much. I am further distracted by the excited shrieking of Tegan Clayton, as it seems I have also come through before her husband Peter. He might have been on a bike less suited to fast fire-trail sections than I was, but I’ll take that little win any day of the week!

On to the Red Loop and the single-track Wingello State Forest is famous for. I just adore riding the likes of “Where’s Wally”, “Banksia Drive”, “Leech Street”, “Everglades” and the “Princesses Revenge” (which actually has an awesome painting of a princess, that I think looks like me, posted on a tree near the end). I also just LOVE the new section, very adequately named “Love Love Love”. Some great berms and some fast and flowy downhill sections make for a great deal of fun and excited squeals.

Single-track can be dangerous in a race situation – it’s easy to get separated from other riders and therefore can be hard to measure and monitor your pace. I made a conscious effort to try and follow other riders where the opportunity presented itself, which also assists me greatly, giving me a marker to follow through corners. I ended up riding a lot of the red section with one of the Master’s men – I was stronger going uphill, but he set a great pace through the tight sections. Good teamwork really!

At this stage, I had no idea where either Rachel or Liz Smith (another very strong marathon racer) were in relation to me. After getting stuck in a rut and catapulting myself into a tree right before the final Red Loop climb (it’s been a while since I crashed, so I assume I was due), I began to tell myself they must be right behind me. Psyc!

My feeder for the day, Robyn, did a fantastic job of grabbing my attention in the feed zone (there was no way I could miss her), swapping out bottles and making sure I got in a few mouthfuls of Coke as I flew out on to the final Yellow Loop.  She was racing in a team, so I am very appreciative of her taking a bit of time out to help me on the day. You rock Robs!

The Yellow Loop was my loop. Full of steep, lengthy, challenging climbs. Still in the lead, I was quietly confident I could hold on to it for the final 19kms. By this stage the field was pretty scattered and in many cases, tiring fast. When I did encounter other riders, I often made the call to keep pushing forward on my own.

Finally cresting Half Way Hill and out into the relatively open areas of the course, I was suddenly hit by the wind. Looking forward (through the clouds of dust whipped up by the gale) I could see riders strung out along the road. Nobody seemed to be riding together. Looking back, not much help either. I had no choice but to make myself incredibly small, drop down into my smallest gear and pedal for my life. If either Rachel or Liz were in groups, I could get caught out very easily right about now.

To illustrate how strong the wind was – at one stage I was blown from the left hand side of the road over into the gutter on the right. Picked up and dropped like King Kong playing with marbles. You practically had to ride at a 45 degree angle to go straight.

All things considered however, now was a good opportunity to start picking off riders on the run home. I spotted the familiar Cyclery Northside jersey about 100 meters up ahead and went in for the kill. Unluckily for it’s owner Jaycon, I caught up on a gentle climb and was able to keep rolling on. I probably jumped another 3 or 4 places overall over the next 3km as the strong winds took their toll.

The last person I caught was Gary from SXC. Not only did I then proceed to steer him right into an enormous muddy puddle (that’s what you get for following me I guess!), but covered him in mud and dirty water as I completely underestimated how deep it was. Unfortunately this “friendly” gesture inspired him to find another gear and he eventually caught me about 1km out, crossing the line just ahead of me in the end. Next time, Gadget!

I finished 1st in the overall Women’s Field and 34th overall in a time of 2 hours and 35 minutes. My form yardstick seems to think I am going OK.

I’ve heard it’s the last 3 Ring Circus for a while, which is a real shame. Wild Horizons are proven to run a great event and Wingello is just so much fun to race. If this is the case, make sure you get down for the Highland Fling later in the year to experience what Wingello has to offer.

Quick thanks to Cyclery Northside – not only did my bike perform flawlessly, but it attracted more attention than Ryan Gosling with a Labrador puppy. Ladies – if you are single and want to meet a Mountain Biker – get yourself an S-Works Era. Instant conversation starter.

Magoo on Film

When expert photographer and all around nice guy Gilbert Romane contacted me asking if I would be a willing participant in a photo shoot and profile for his blog, I absolutely jumped at the chance.

Gil is doing a series of photo blogs focused on “Athletes in Action” – where he shoots different athletes away from a race environment, giving him a chance to play with new ideas, try new techniques and capture a little more about each of us in terms of our drivers and goals, as well as providing a bit of an insight into our personalities.

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I originally met Gil through a lot of the racing I did throughout the year. He and his partner Richard (together they make up Outer Image Collective) are usually found perched on a rock, curled up in a ditch or peering through the bushes at a number of races and events. While their locations are often laughable, their photography certainly isn’t – both are very gifted behind the lens and I think I speak for a great number of riders when I say I am consistently impressed and incredibly thankful for the moments, emotions, and memories they capture on my behalf.

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Gil and I met up just after dawn at a mountain bike track up in Sydney’s North. We both had some ideas on the types of shots and potential locations we wanted to capture, including some portrait style photos and some action shots. It was really cool to be able to provide input to what we were doing (even if I was far from the subject matter expert).

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I took both my cross bike and my mountain bike with me. With Cyclocross being a bit of a niche sport in Australia (and a super fun one at that), it was a good opportunity to showcase some roadie style stuff on the trail and do something a little different to the norm.

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Overall it was a great day out – although I have a new appreciation for the guys who did this more frequently for magazines, advertising, movies and online publications! if I had a dollar for every time Gil said “just one more time…”.

I think the results speak for themselves – some great shots, both a mix of action and portrait, MTB and CX. Needless to say, if you are looking for a photographer who not only produces awesome results but will put up with bull ant attacks in the pursuit of a great shot, get in contact with Gil.

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You can view my Athlete in Action post by clicking here. Below is a collection of my favourite images from the day.