Friday, September 22, 2006

Last couple of 2006 races

The last couple of weekends saw two races and one weekend of long spins.

The first race was the final stage of the NPS series and was being held by IMBRC out in Slade Valley (the same venue as the MAD Rush a few months back). Horrible rain on the Saturday meant that the course was going to be very muddy (most of the course was on new cut trails). I did not get out on Saturday for a few practice laps so I warmed up before the race on a practice lap – the course looked good.

The race started and my legs felt fine with a fast pace but a poor line choice up a muddy dual track section (I wish I had more time to find the proper lines before hand) meant that I was stuck behind a few people for a fast single track descent (I did get to see one of the guys have a spectacular crash though). That dropped us out onto a fireroad which lead us to the top of the hill. I had a couple of battles on this lap and ended up going through start/finish in third place. On the fireroad climb on the next lap I caught up with second place – he hung on to me (exchanging positions a couple of times) until a hard steep climb towards the end of the lap where I dropped him for the rest of the race. Then, to my surprise, I found the race leader at the side of the trail with a blown out tire (I actually caught this guy on the last lap of the last two races we both took part in – a very quick guy). Now I was in an interesting position – a few people chasing behind but I was in front. For the last lap I basically went hard on the non technical terrain and took it easy on the technical stuff (trying not to have any crashes/mechanicals). The tactic worked and I won my first Expert NPS with almost a 4 minute lead. The win meant that I actually finished 2nd overall in the Expert NPS standings :) As a first timer, I was very very happy. Overall, I really enjoyed the race, it was cool to win, especially on a course that was so much fun. I think at this stage I'm pretty good at riding in the mud! :)

The Mel's race she ended up finishing 12th in Sports men or 1st women.

Mel just before the start of the race

This line looked nicer :)

The bomb hole at the end

The Mad winners from the weekend

Last weekend saw the Epic Blast. A lot can be said about this event. It was my favorite race of the year. It was basically a cross between downhill and cross country racing (so I took the Enduro). All sorts of riders arrived with everything from downhill beasts to carbon fiber wipit bikes. The format was basically a heat, a final and then the blast.

On my first heat I was hampered with mechanical problems the whole way down (pedals would not all me to clip in – try descending on clip pedals down technical terrain!) and eventually came in in 7th. In the final, I no longer had the technical problems and ran out to win the run. It was a lot of fun taking the jumps and drops at race pace not having to follow someone.

Finally, The Blast. 120 riders (170+ started the day) start at the top of a big hill and head straight over the heather for the singletrack. It's simply chaos! He is a video of the start.

Epic organized some great prizes for the winners (thank you BikeRack) and I was still buzzing from the event the next day. Hopefully next year there will be a couple more of these events!