The 3rd round of the Tailwind 2012 MTB Super Series was only the second race in this series for me. It was another 4hr race. With the first 2 races at this venue being absolute mudfests the fine weather leading in to this race and no rain forecast, it looked like we were finally going to have a dry race. I only looked at the course the day before and realised that along with some new sections, much of the course was in the reverse direction from how I had ridden it before. My imagining of how some particular parts of the track would be in the reverse had me worried about a couple of climbs. I decided to go out for an easy test ride to see what the climbs were like and whether I needed to lower my gearing. The new single track felt to me like we were riding it the wrong way, with a couple of overly tight climbs(especially SS), but other than that, I was quite happy with the course overall and decided to stay with the 34/21 gearing I had on my Superfly.
The fine weather had made for a huge roll up of over 100 solo riders (including 7 Single Speeders) and about 20 teams. We queued up for race start where we all expected the start line to be, only to be informed that there was an extra loop added and we were actually heading off about face. That meant that some of the faster guys ended up mid pack, and I was further from the front than I wanted to be. The race started and I seemed to get away OK, and probably a little too well. There was some tyre rubbing and I went down, taking some skin off my knee. I was quickly back on my bike and tried to get composed. We hit the single track and I had to walk the tricky ascent as riders in front stopped and started. Having ridden the track already helped a little and I was able to make up places through out the first lap. For the second race in a row one of my bottles came out of its cage. At the end of lap 1 I was told I was the first single speeder though, and I was happy with that. I stopped to grab a bottle and headed off again.
I spotted my bottle on lap 2, but didn't stop to get it. I passed more riders on lap 2, then stated to ride with geared bikes of about my speed, trading places in various sections of the track. The Superfly was going great, except that there was some play in my cleats and every time I pulled up on the pedals I felt my feet come quite lose of the pedals. On lap 3 or 4 I stopped to pick up my bottle which was at the bottom of gully where I always tried to keep the speed up. Getting up that hill without my normal momentum took a bit of extra effort.
The course was a heap of fun in this direction, and when I was clear of other riders I was happy with my speed as the laps ticked by. I was not quite sure of my placing, but thinking that I was possibly leading as no SS riders had passed me since lap 1. In any case I was riding about as hard as I could. At about the 3hr mark, I was informed that I was in a safe 2nd which actually didn't really bother me. I was somewhat surprised however when I was passed not long afterwards. I was either in 3rd or had just been lapped.
I started trying to work out how many laps I would get in within the time remaining and if I need to stop for food or water. I wasn't even sure of my lap times, but I had a feeling it was going to be a close thing, so I kept pushing. I came across the line with less than a minute to spare. There was probably not much to be gained by doing that extra lap, but I was just warming up and felt great.
The track was very quiet on my last lap, so I pushed to get it done. It turned out that I finished 2nd and I was lapped by Jacob Roberts, who actually finished 2nd over all, only 1 minute behind super star Andy Fellows. Top ride by Jacob. Marty Comer finished 3rd, from what I heard having tough fight with Nick Westwood who was having some bike issues.
The next race is a 6hr race which is a bit more to my liking. So until then, keep pedalling.
Final results are here.
Images courtesy of http://www.imagewerxphotography.com.au/ and heaps more pics here.