Countless hours training, preparation, bike maintanence and its back at the race track. This time for the final round of the Cross Country Sunshine Series.
With a couple of practice laps under my belt from Saturday, I was pretty confident of a good result and maintaining my series lead for the overall win.....
The buzzer when and we hit the first hill. What a dreadful start, couldn't get clipped in properly and I was totally unable to get a good pedal rhythm before I hit the bottom of the first hill.
Struggling to keep up the pace I jump onto the back wheel on I rider I could see was making his way through the pack.
At the top of the hill we pass the feed zone then the first section of single track starts. I knew I didn't want to be to far back when we hit the single track, with no where to pass I could easily loose touch of the leaders.
Heading into the single track I managed to pull up in 4th, two riders were already a little way in front and another rider was right behind me. The strange I could hear my bike making during warm-up was still, but could find what it was.....
Through the first section of single track and up the next short climb, the rider behind me quickly moves up to 3rd in one foul swoop. After about 2ks we begin to close in on the lead 2. The rider in third is pretty soon in the lead and continuing his fine form picks up the race pace quite considerably. At this point I begin to realize this could be a real struggle.
Surely but steadily the main group began to ride away from me including the rider in forth. Sure that I could make up the time at a later stage I tried to find a steady rhythm and conserve valuable energy for the rest of the race......
By the time I hit the 2nd lap I was beginning to really struggle. I could no longer see the main bunch of 4 riders and I was beginning to fade fast - so early in the race. I hoped that as I went past the food zone and grabbed a new bottle and gel (thanks to my angel for feeding me) that once I got a chance to take the gel, I would be back on the pace.....
As I started to use the gel on a fire road section to my disbelief I was passed by yet any competitor. Placing me in sixth - this was looking really bad not only for the race results but also the series and the noise from my bike was not going away. Unsure if the noise was the freewheel (the part that make the wheel go forward when you pedal) or the spokes. I kept looking at down at my bike I realized there was a buckle in the rear wheel – I had broken a spoke somehow during warm-up… This can be a bit of a worry due to the lose on strength in the wheel …
Washing down the gel with some water I thought 'I had better pull my finger out'. Wasting no more time, I did my best to start pulling in the riders in front of me.
Within about the next 1 - 2 klms I was able pass 5th and make a bit of a gap. Then I began to start getting some back pain – I never usually have a problem with this…..
Lap three. Still no signs of anyone not even on the switch back sections. I was trying to block out the pain and just KEEP GOING. By the time I hit the steepest climb on the trail my back was really hurting. Still in disbelief of my efforts at this point I just kept pedaling. Suddenly from out of know where I caught the rider that was earlier leading the race. He is just rolling along the trails ‘I ask if he is ok’, he replied ‘that he had hurt his back’. This created a little bit of excitement inside (although I felt bad for the guy) but made it a bit easier to keep going knowing I was up to forth.
Just as I was getting the end of the 3rd, one of my mates Mika that had come to watch was yelling ‘keep going there’s another rider just up ahead your catching him’. By the time I went over the start/finish line for the final lap I have caught the rider in 3rd it was BOB. I can’t believe my luck – the universe must be watching over me. (speaking wit hBob after the race he informed me that a gel had gone done the wrong way causing him to go into a coughing fit)
Knowing all I needed to do was stay in this position on the race to win the overall series I was stoked – but also nervous, especially with I broken spoke making my rear wheel sound like a wind chime.
I tried to stay on a steady pace and pick really smooth line, but this gets harder and harder as you get tired as well as a lot of discomfort from my back.
I kept it together for the remainder of the race.
I finished 3rd on the day making me the overall winner of the ‘Sunshine Series Expert Class’. This was definitely the a ‘Moment of Glory’
I found it much easier to keep racing on the day with the support of my friends that came out cheer for the last round. Thanks a million to Mandy and Heather for supplying some awesome shoots of the day and my girlfriend Kylie for feeding me on the day. It certainly beats trying to use and esky.
I have decided with the success of this series that I will move up to the Elite level for the QLD Championships. Stay tuned for results………