James Estate Winery were kind enough to let everyone camp for free at the event, including pit fires, toilets & hot showers.
The drive down was very busy on the HWY as the the Easter school holidays came to an end, but the drive West from Newcastle was very picturesque as it flowed through surrounding hills with rocky crags scattered throughout the area.
After setting up camp & picking up my race number along with a bottle of wine I spent some time talking with some friends about the track & other mountain bike related stories, then before I knew it the time was getting late & time I got some shut eye.
Racing started off along a fire road for 1.5 km before heading into the fun single track where the race came to a sudden holt from riders trying to tackle the rocky terrain faster than there capable of but after a lap it all started to settle down a little & became a fun race railing berms, bouncing over rocks & splashing through cold water creeks. As the race went on I had no idea on my position so I just kept a steady pace carefully keeping an eye out for who was wanting to get passed me making sure it was not a solo rider. After around 4 hours while stuffing a hot cross bun in my mouth I herd a familiar voice behind me saying "Jamie, are you feeling alright" it was Phil Welch whom was one of my friends I was talking to the night before & who beat me in the first round of the Shimano GP. I was enjoying the race until now (LOL) as I listened to the breathing behind me every time the single track opened up slightly. I was expecting a close net race from now on but that thought did not last long as we rode an open fire road near the end of the lap where Phil stood out of the saddle in true road style sprinting away from me in the middle of an endurance mountain bike race. There was no way I was going to chase hopping that he will tire before the end knowing there was still around 3 hours left in the race. As the race went on I seen Phil several times in the winding single track but was unable to real him back in toward the end like planned finishing in 3rd place behind Phil in 2nd & Darren Dillon in 1st.
I am already looking forward to round 3 where I may have a few new race strategies to try :-)