Friday, October 23, 2015

2015 Crocodile Trophy Stage 7

Today would be the longest stage of this years race at 127 kilometers but having had a look at previous years race times I knew that it would be a pretty quick stage with chunks of gravel and even tarmac roads with only a small amount of climbing.

As we headed out of the old mining town, Irvinebank, that we had called home for the last two nights the pace remained steady giving us all something to ease ourselves into. After ten kilometers a rolling climb began and as expected the speed went up - nothing crazy - just enough to make your legs hurt a little. We all had known about a long twisty rough downhill and there was a sprint to get into it from the front group - the riding was fun as we snaked along with about 14 riders in the lead group. With dust everywhere you simply hoped the rider in front was picking a good line as you had little idea what you were going to hit.

Things settled after a while and I was in a group of four just behind the leaders hoping to get back on before the long fast sections. There are some races where things just seem to work out right for you - this Crocodile Trophy has not been one of them - psssst - and I had a front puncture, I think that is the first front puncture I had in years and it occurred on some normal trail - no sharp rocks/stones etc… Crap. I fixed that and got going again quickly enough but was alone on LONG tarmac roads into a headwind. After ten kilometers a train of riders caught onto me and I latched on - I must have been a carrot dangling for them to catch as the speed seemed to drop when I joined in. After another ten kilometres on a short rise another elite and I found ourselves well off the front and we just continued on eventually picking up some more riders that I had been riding with earlier.

We rode really well together and despite the high temperatures (touching 40C for most of the day) I felt comfortable. We took the time to properly refuel/refill in the feeds so dehydration was thankfully not an issue. As we closed into the final kilometers of the race we started to attack each other with Nicolas Pettina putting in a big effort on the final climb. I got across but with Milton and Vincent for company - the final 500 meters was a twisty up and down singletrack rollercoaster and the order we entered the singletrack was the order we hit the finish line.

Today I felt good, the heat wasn’t an issue but I still didn’t come away with anything. We only have two more days left so not much time for me to actually do something in the race. Fingers crossed.

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