Prior to the 2013 Tathra MTB Enduro, I had been to Tathra many times but never to ride. It’s a beautiful place bordered by beaches, lakes and bushland. If you venture in to the bush a little way you will inevitably stumble across one of the many MTB trails that surround the town. Everyone I had asked about Tathra single track gave it a rave review meaning Tathra was a ‘must see’ ride destination when the opportunity arose! Bingo! – Tathra MTB Enduro, 28th April 2013.
After an encouraging result at Capital Punishment, I was super keen to hit up another 100ker. Wombat100 was off the radar and Convict100 is another no go. Tathra was looking good since the family were keen for the road trip and fellow ONYABike rider Azza Bashford (@azza_bashie) was coming.
Saturday morning was spent enjoying the sunshine and sand in Merimbula.
Young Elouise had her first dip in the ocean and it could be the last if her reaction is anything to go by… hated it!
After lunch we headed in to Tathra to collect race plates and sus out some of the amazing trails. Matty, Johnny, Coby and I met up with Azza at race HQ while Jess and Mauzza looked after the kids.
The plan was to ride some of the course, but mainly experience the single track I had heard so much about! The kids race was on while we were heading out and we stumbled across one kid whose pedal had fallen off, and two others who were totally lost and looked spooked! Surely it was nothing to do with the name of the loop they were riding…
We decided to follow the 50km course and climbed over the stile. Little did we know that this was the start of an 8km section of grass paddocks.
We followed the metre wide mown strip, bitching and moaning about how much the section would hurt on race day. But it got worse when I was almost attacked by two cows – just ask Coby (@CobyStokman).
The ride was very scenic and in the end it was worth it.
I also found a hill where I decided I would attack whoever I was riding with during the race. Eventually we got to the top of town and were able to experience the famous ‘Bridges’ descent. It is unreal!
Race day was an early start which meant the drive from Merimbula to Tathra would be a hairy one. Why is that? There is roadkill everywhere along this stretch and we passed at least four large roos chomping on roadside grass. I said to Jess ‘Dont worry if we hit one, i’ll just ride to the start’, she wasn’t very impressed.
As we entered town, I placed a few water bottles at the fire-shed feed station that we were going to ride past at the 60km and 80km marks. At race HQ, I checked and triple checked that I had enough gels and the right water bottles etc etc then went for a quick warm up before race briefing!
We were all a bit shocked to hear of a running start but the jokes about fast running hubbards came thick and fast!
From the gun I ran as fast as everyone else and then sat in behind Andy Hall and Shane Taylor with James Downing on my wheel.
It stayed this way until a about the 5k mark where Shane started to loose Andy’s wheel and let JD and I slip past.
So after the first 10km loop it was Andy, JD and I heading out to tackle the 40km of hilly fire trails. I had thought about this scenario the day before. I knew that I was likely to be riding with the two Cannondale riders for most of the race, but I also thought there might be some others who joined us.
Andy Hall sat on the front true to his endurance pedigree. His pace was solid and unwavering. 20km in, Andy was still on the front. 30km in, Andy was still on the front. I rolled past him at one stage to take a turn, this lasted about a kilometre before Andy felt the urge to, you guessed it, get back on the front. JD was content sitting behind us.
Some of the fire-trails were actually fun. Super steep climbs and loose and sketchy descents = good times!
Going back to my pre-race thoughts about the scenario of riding with the Cannomdale boys; my plan was to stay in between Andy and JD no matter what. That way I was immune to any silly bugger tactics of dropping wheels etc. I would have been happy to roll turns but only if the load was shared. With JD on the back, I had no obligation to do anything and Andy didn’t once ask for either of us to take a turn… Suited me fine.
40km in, Andy was on the front. Back at race HQ , Andy was on the front and hadn’t complained once. Jess, Elouise and Mauzza were ready for me as I rolled in and handed me a bottle and muesli bar. The boys were stopping so I sat up and waited.
I rode the front for the next 1km before Andy rolled over me. We rode to the stile and entered the paddocks. The pace was cruisey and I considered speeding it up but stuck to my plan to attack up the hill at the end. I hit it hard and got a good gap on the boys, but within about 1-2km Andy caught and went around me. I rested on his wheel for a minute then continued to push on and lead the next 2-3km of single track until the 60km feed station. I grabbed my bottle and Andy went in front of me. Shortly after JD was back on.
Once again, it was the Green-Blue-Green train. Once again, the ideal situation was panning out for me. I had no obligation to tow the green team to the finish line. I was happy to sit second wheel, and if I could hold the wheel, I certainly backed myself in the sprint.
The next 40km was nearly all single track. It was awesome. One of the real highlights of Tathra trails is the many gullies that the trails snake in and out of – so much fun! I was hollering at the boys regularly about how fun the trails were!
I attacked briefly a second time at about the 70km mark, JD called it and followed my wheel. I held the pace as high as I could but couldn’t drop the boys. I sat right up when we hit fire trail again as it was pointless wasting energy.
80kms passed and Andy was back on the front and I had eyes for the sprint only. We had 20km of the best single track to go and I was just going to enjoy it.
It’s amazing how much this section of single track traverses the entire side of the hill. It must use every little bit of bush, there are tracks everywhere! At one stage I spotted my father inlaw, Johnny (@JohnStoky) a little way down the hill. I assumed we would soon catch him as we weren’t far behind but we never caught him. He was probably kilometres in front of us on track, but only metres away on the hill. So with that in mind you can imagine how many tight turns and switchbacks there are, it makes for great riding!
The kms ticked over and as we passed the 5km to go sign cramps hit me! It was as if a switch was triggered. If ever this happens I just do my best to adjust my technique to suit the cramp, this time I had to bow my legs out to the side. Not sure if JD noticed, I was hoping he wouldn’t cause he could have told Andy to pick up the pace and I would have been in trouble! I found it was better if I stood, so for about a km or two I was out of the saddle. It was around this point that Andy called out to JD something about ‘visualising the tunnel’. I was hoping that they were referring to the old bakery bunch sprint. While I was trying to work out what they were talking about the cramps started to go away. SWEET!
In the last descent I was thinking of the sprint. It was on the grass oval, with roughly 100m of straight then a flat left hander and about 30m to the line. I was going to roll out of the last berm an inch from Andy’s wheel and hit it full gas as soon as possible. That was my plan, and i was confident.
After a text book Enduro man effort from Andy, we had covered 99.9km in about 4h23m. Like a machine, Andy had ridden the front for about 95 of those kilometres. I locked out my fork and let rip, I didn’t look back until mid way through the left hander when I saw (contrary to other reports) there was a good gap leaving time enough to sit up, celebrate and soak up the cheers of Azza and my family! A great feeling and the first time I had felt it after a 100ker.
The Giant XTC 29er rode like a dream throughout! SRAM XX Drive train was smooth even after four hours of constant shifting. Big ring to little ring shifts were made with full confidence and at anytime. Giant are on to a good thing with this bike and I’m stoked to be on one!
Big thanks to Micko and ONYABike Canberra for the support. So proud to be part of the team, the crew, the family!
It was a huge weekend of results for OnyaBike! At Tathra, Azza won the 50km race, Darren won his 100km category, John Stoky rolled in 3rd in his 50km category.
At the Tumut 3hr Bradley ‘Morto’ Morton won convincingly, Glenn Columbine was 2nd and Micko Brice came 3rd! Blue and White all over the podiums!
Next race, CORC clubby! Good night.
Lewys blog covering the CORC XC Series
The Canberra Off Road Cycling (CORC) club must be one of the strongest in the country. No idea why, but Canberra seems to breed super strong mountain bikers! During 2012/13 season, theoretically, you could have turned up to the clubby and lined up next to a National XC Champion and a National XCM champion. But also riders from Rockstar Racing, Swell Specialised, Target/Trek, ONYABike, factory Cannondale and factory Giant! Stacked field!!! This exact field didn’t actually line up, but one week was close to it.
The 2012/13 XC series was my introduction to club cross country racing and my first Olympic distance XC race! It was out at Kowen and I ran 5th in A grade. Defending series champion and TeamONYA rider Brad ‘Morto’ Morton ran second behind the seemingly unbeatable Dylan Cooper who won every clubby he entered except for a DNF.
Round two saw Morto take the win ahead of Ed McDonald and Ben Comfort. I didn’t race this one, neither did Dylan.
Round three was lame with a tiny field lining ip in A grade. Morto, myself and one other faced off. Morto dominated as usual!
Round four Morto and I finished 1-2 ahead of Ed McDonald.
At this stage we were looking good in the series and likely to secure a permanent number plate. Morto was looking to defend the number 1 plate.
Round five saw Dylan turn up and put in the hurt. This race was on Sparrow Hill. Dylan and Morto were nearly always in sight on the long dragging fire trail but they weren’t battling. Morto was a fair way back from Dylan but was not going to give up. I had young Jack Lavis to worry about. The two of us were at each other the whole race until on the last lap he made a mistake behind me and I was able put a minute in to him. Coops 1st, Morto 2nd and 3rd for me.
Round Six was canned.
Round seven saw 13 riders line up in A grade. The larger than normal A grade field was boosted by the attendance of the Willo Development Camp. I had a great ride this week and found the legs to overtake Morto on one of the fire trail climbs and placed second second behind Dylan. It was the first time I had ever beaten Morto and was a big confidence boost!
I think the best thing about CORC races is the atmosphere. They are family friendly, fun, encouraging and supportive. Every one knows each other in the MTB scene and most are just out to challenge themselves or race their mates! There’s none of that over serious/number crunching/excuse making/boasting crap that you can easily find in the road scene!
Round eight went to Dylan ahead of Ed McDonald. Morto and I were at the Jet Black 24hr that weekend.
This made the series a little closer between Dylan and I for second place. Morto had pretty much sealed the series.
Round nine saw a STACKED field line up. Dylan Cooper, Dan McConnell, Jarrod Hughes, Azza Bashford, James Downing, Morto and I! Wow. Straight after the start, Dylan flatted and DNF’d. He just jumped back on to continue the race/training ride. After lap one McConnell was way back, deliberate I assume. Jarrod attacked and rode away from Morto and I. Halfway through McConnell caught and passed us. He proceeded to catch Jarrod and Dylan then ride away. Morto left me for dead on the last lap, I was hurting. 1st McConnell, 2nd Jarrod, 3rd Morto.
All of a sudden with one round to go, the series was very interesting… For me anyway. Morto had the number 1 plate sealed. TeamONYA were guaranteed to defend the CORC XC series! But for me, I was keen to make it ONYA 1-2 in the series. After nine rounds Dylan was 20 points behind me in 3rd and I was sitting precariously in 2nd. I needed to finish behind Dylan to hold second. This would be a tough task!
Come race day Brendan ‘Trekky’ Johnston turned up and straight away I knew I was in trouble. Straight from the gun the pace was on and by the last fire trail pinch I was unhitched from Trekky’s wheel. Ouch.
Slowly but surely Morto caught me and we rode the last two laps together. He let me take him up the fire trail pinch in case of the unlikely scenario that Trekky had beaten Coops or one of them had DNF’d.
It wasn’t the case but either way, Morto had taken out the series and I ended up 3rd.
Solid season of racing and some great fun! Can’t wait till next year!
I was excited for Cap Punishment this year for several reasons; I love the race, it was a slightly new course and I was racing elite for the first time! In 2011 I snuck just inside the top 200 overall. 2012 I came 2nd in open and 17th overall. This year I hoped to maintain the status quo and go even better.
On the drive out I spotted a little red light flashing in the bike lane. I thought some crazy dude is riding to the start, then I thought ‘Its probably Ed’. As i passed the rider I realised I’m on the money!
The start line saw plenty of big names in the mix. I lined up early and got a good spot in the second row. I wished Ryan Quade luck since his last couple of years at the race had been marred with bad luck, I think this year panned out in similar fashion!
Unfortunately Team ONYA riders were a little light on… Azza Bashford (@azza_bashie) was crook and decided not to race with the Mont24 in mind. Mark Tupalski (@MarkTupalski) was down in Bright chasing a National Series podium and Brad Morton (@SmileyBrad48) was racing the 50km! We still had TeamONYA god Micko Brice lining up, as well as many others from the ONYA family!
From the gun there was a lot of movement and some sketchy moments. It wasn’t until we hit the first real fire trail climb that riders started to self seed. Blokes were going backwards all around me and I was able to go around a few to tack on to the lead group. I found Shaun Lewis’ wheel and thought it was a pretty safe place to be!
It was safe until a poorly marked left hander caused a mix up and three of us were gapped. Shortly after Kyle Ward’s tyre started to go flat and we had an even bigger gap to bridge! Not good! Lewi pinned it up a short fire road pinch and suddenly I was on my own… a great start! I kept pushing through the next bit of single track and to my surprise, I popped out into the northern car park about 80m behind the lead group who were eating and drinking. Boom one big sprint and I was back on!
The next few sections through Kowen and Sparrow were nearly all single track with only one long fireroad climb. Our group included all of the contenders Andy Blair, Shaun Lewis, Dylan Cooper, Adrian Jackson, Jarrod Hughes and Brendan Johnson. For the second time in two weeks I had a good chance to watch what goes on and learn about XCM racing. I was happy to sit near the back and wasn’t at all interested in feeling the wind. Others must have had similar ideas since the pace was fairly cruisey on the fire trails. Leading up to the single track there was always plenty of movement, but I didn’t bother and was happy to sit towards the back. Maybe next time this will be different.
The race started to get interesting for me when we reached the single track out in the middle of no where. The pace went through the roof in comparison to earlier sections, and when we hit that super steep road descent near the old feed station, the leaders didn’t let up. This created a gap in front of Trekky, Jarrod and I. Into the super rough moto style trails we started to lose sight of the others. We worked hard together on the next fire trail to limit the damage and after the road crossing it was on!!!
The three of us swapped off full gas for about 3 kms trying to catch the lead pack of 4! One problem was that Trekky stomped so hard that I was struggling to recover after a turn, so I happily left him out there a few times! It was his own fault! Luckily the guys in front started to look at each other and we were able to catch up, but not without spending some valuable biccys!
Coming into Majura it was a relief to look at the Garmin and work out that we were heading straight to the untimed section. Again, I sat near the back watching. I started to wonder what would happen because any time gained as you pass into the untimed section can be very valuable at the end of the race. Next second, Adrian Jackson took off about 200m from the bottom of the climb. We all followed and it was on from there. AJ faded, Coops got a few seconds on Lewi and Blairy. I managed to finish close behind Jarrod and AJ and a second or two in front of Trekky!
It’s so hard trying to ride fast up that rocky and rough mongrel climb!
Into untimed, my first thought was ‘Wow, I didn’t expect to be here!’ 12 months ago I was 10mins off these guys! Jess, my Mum and Elouise met me at the bottom of the Majura entry track with food and refills.
I rode through untimed with Coops, Jarrod and Trekky. The other three left the start of untimed straight away so we had no idea where they were. This is where tactics come in to play… I didn’t realise the extent of the tactics until after the race but i’ll explain some of it now. The four of us hoped to ride to the other side of untimed and just roll out straight away without Blairy, Lewi and AJ. In the process we would hopefully team time trial to Stromlo faster than the other three. Simple. Unfortunately, this was the only tactic we discussed, no plan B.
We approached the end of untimed to see Lewi and AJ waiting, but no Blairy. I was unaware till after the race, but Blairy had already left untimed and was time trialling to Stromlo. A smart tactic since his team mate Lewi could just sit on the back of the pack and mark the moves.
As we rode up both AJ and Lewi were off their bikes. Trekky straight away motioned for us to pin it and go without them. I was thinking the same… But we roll up towards the timing mat and as Coops and Jarrod slowed to stop, Trekky pinned it and he committed to the solo time trial. I was still rolling towards the timing mat and was in two minds. Go or stay…? I had a split second to choose.
In the lead up to the race I had thought about last year where I tried to tack on the back of the leaders after untimed, and I got dropped up the first hill. This year I thought if I had the chance again, I’d leave a little bit before them to save getting dropped. So, in the split second I had to make a decision, that is the only thought that came into my head – “they’ll catch up”! BOOM brain explosion and off I went! Solo Time Trial from Blacko to Strommy…WTF was I thinking, I can’t TT! See what happens when there’s no plan B!
Coops and Jarrod must have thought ‘WTF, what happened to our plan?’ Well that went out the window when the others were waiting for us and Trekky took off! Unfortunately, by this time Trekky was 80m in front and I wasn’t going to catch him. I actually felt pretty good when I just sat about 20 beats below redline… You’d have to ask a roady, but maybe that’s called threshold? Don’t ask me about that stuff. Anyway, I pushed on and watched as Trekky rode away from me.
By the time I reached the Arboretum climb he was at the top of it. After the climb, the ride to Stromlo was pretty good. It was undulating and all I needed to do was spend some time out of the saddle to keep my average up. The Garmin tells me I averaged 28.4km/h and 170bpm with a time of 39m43s. Trekky did 38m18s. In the end I would have been better off riding with the pack. They rode the section 5secs slower than me, but blitzed me up Stromlo.
When I hit Stromlo I had used a lot of juice! Throughout the climb I did my best to get up out of the saddle to maintain momentum. But I really was hurting. I had one thing in my head playing over and over and that was the fact that I just had to hurt until the top. On the first switch back of the main climb I looked down towards the fire trail and I could see three of the others coming fast. That was even more motivation to dig deep. Over the top and heading toward the drop into Western Wedgetail I still didn’t see any of the boys behind, so I thought I could stay ahead of them.
In the new berms after the container I was about three corners down and I look up to see Coops dropping in. I gave him a big fat ‘yeeeow’ when we crossed paths on the switchbacks cause I thought he was flying to victory! But at this stage I didn’t know the full story.
I managed to stay ahead of him until the entrance to Little Rascals, where I pulled over and let him through. The crit track was a chance to have one last sprint and empty the fumes out of the tank as well as the oily rag – I left it all out there! As riders cross the finish line, spectators get a great view of the pain faces! I chose not to show mine! Ouch.
My result was a good one. 7th overall in a time of 3h33m35s. I was 3m10s behind the winner Andy Blair. 2013 was another huge improvement for me.
I rolled up to Dylan to congratulate him but he told me he didn’t think he got it. That’s when I found out that Blairy had ridden it solo, and Lewi was riding in the pack to keep watch. Coops was disappointed with how it had panned out and certainly could have done with a team mate out there… In hindsight I would have stayed with the pack for two reasons; one to be much fresher at the bottom of Stromlo, and two to give a fellow Giant rider a hand to combat the Specialized boys.
I’m looking forward to the next XCM. Hopefully, I can ride it in similar fashion and put some of my learnings in to play.
Once again I attribute some of my improvements to the XTC Advanced 29er SL0. Its super light weight allowed me safely carry 2.5 water bottles and still feel light! On other bikes i doubt i would have been able to chase back on to the pack along those fire trails leading up to Majura. Thanks ONYABike for such an amazing ride!
In other TeamONYA news, Morto won the 50km race by a minute or two, Tupac rode as consistent as ever and came second in the MTBA National Series, Micko enjoyed coffee and croissants at the feed station with Snadzy, and Azza waited patiently for the boys at the finish line and as always, had a cold beer waiting!
After Bob’s win in the road Crit last night Onya Bike Civic are leading the overall for the Teams category in the Canberra Cycling Club road crits! Not bad for a bunch of mountain bikers. Onya Bike Belco are currently in 10th postion and the Squad overall (both teams together) is coming 5th with only 13 riders. Top work guys!