Preparing to pounce
lining up on the start it was noticeable that there were a few Olympic distance cross country riders that would be hard to beat over the shorter distance.
The start was furious as we all sprinted up the first climb toward the single track. I tried something new for my preparation for this race by staying off the bike three days leading into it & was finding out fast that it did not work for me on the as the lactate started to flood into my legs only 500m into the race. I decided to back the pace off a bit & play the fat cat with the faster mice ahead of me know that it was a three hour race over a hard course & maybe my endurance would play a part toward the end. I was sitting in around 6th spot watching the guys in front slowly pull away from me & I was finding it hard to let them go, but this race was going to come down to tactics & for that to happen I had to keep my cool.
Only a few laps in & I could see riders starting to slow in front of me as I passed Grant Webster on the side of the track with what seemed like a flat tyre. Next rider to catch was Dennis van Mill who was only a few hundred meters in front & slowly getting caught. I found that the hill climbs were the place that I was gaining most & I used this to my advantage while trying to keep my cadence high. A little over an hour in & I caught Dennis on the largest hill climb over the back of the course. Dennis has great technical skills on a bike & it was not hard for him to loose me again on the first descent we came to, especially with his 2.4 inch tyres giving him the grip advantage. I kept gaining on the climbs & Dennis kept loosing me on the descents until two hours in where he finally cracked & I went around on the back climb before taking a few risks to keep in front on the next descent to keep in front. looking over my shoulder a short time latter there was no sign of Dennis & I eased up the pace again while focusing on the cat & mouse game.
It was time to make a plan of attack with only 30 min till the end as everyone I went around were telling my that I was not far behind & gaining. I kept the leaders in my sights & got as much fuel in as I could before my plan of attack on the last lap. Coming by the feed zone on the last lap I started pushing hard up the first climb gaining fast on the leaders & I was confident that I was to catch them before the end until ???
At the top of the climb I went to change into the big front chain ring before descending with my chain coming off, then after pushing the shifter to the small gear to pedal it back on, the chain went right across jamming between the small chain ring & the bike frame. By the time I managed to free the chain I lost valuable time in chasing down the leaders & had no hope in catching them. With my plan out the window I finished 3rd, behind David Harris who managed his first win in a while ahead of Kerrod Parker in 2nd spot.
Sometimes the mice will escape the cat, but the cat will be back another day !
2014 GNaTPACK Series Wrap Up
The 2014 Series had seen around 270 riders throughout the year of all ages, it had seen some good times & some sad times, but best of all a great atmosphere with a great bunch of like minded people.
I managed to make it onto the top of the podium for Open/Elite men for a second year in a row just ahead of the forever challenging Kerrod Parker in 2nd spot & Mark Wood finishing 3rd after riding the whole series on a single speed.
I would like to thank all the clubs that organised racing throughout the series & all the riders that made the effort to travel for the races throughout the season. Without you all there would be no racing of such a high standard in North Eastern NSW :-)