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Climbs with a view

sikllama's picture

By sikllama - Posted on 06 March 2016

Re: This ride meeting: 
Rocky Trail MTBGP - Round 1
Hawk & Llama
Position (Overall): 
Position (Category): 

I've never done an 'easy' Rockytrail event and, despite entering as a team for the first round of the 2016 series, this race was no different.

A beautiful autumn day greeted nearly 300 riders at Glenrock, Newcastle for the inaugural Shimano MTB GP at this venue. I'd done two reco laps a few weeks prior and was impressed by what I had seen, however a late course change by the organisers meant that half the course was sight-unseen for me and, according to a few in the know, 'had a few hill climbs'.

After setting up the 3x3 shade I was joined by @Fatboy + family, @Lach + mate, @PeteB, @Andyfev and my teammate @Hawkeye - we had quite a busy little pit area which was put to good use later on in the day as the race wore on.

It was decided @hawkeye would take first lap and so at 9:05, slightly behind schedule, the race was on, with the leaders creating a huge dust cloud along the starting firetrail which must have been difficult for those further behind to see through. It was a bit strange watching the riders file into the first bit of singletrack and not being with them but at the same time it made a nice change in that I was spared the usual first half lap of stopping and starting.

I sat back (literally) onto my chair, Martin's music playing in the background (there was a bit more 'rock' than 'Euro techno' this time round which was great) and did a final check on the bike / nutrition etc. Time seemed to pass quite quickly and in what seemed no time, I was in transition and @Hawkeye was in sight up the final climb. Already people were walking up this last hill, some with hurt limbs, others with broken bikes and others just because the fitness wasn't quite there.

Onto my first lap and basically the course could be split into two distinct zones - the first zone was awesome flowy, rocky and rooty singletrack - up there with the best I've ridden in NSW I reckon. Dry and dusty conditions meant some of the switchback corners, and all of the firetrail descents were sketchy off the main line Smiling The second zone tested your climbing and fitness with multiple firetrail climbs of 15% average grade with pinches of 20% or more straight after creek crossings - very much like Cascades or Quarry Rd Trail at Hornsby. Thanks @PeteB's for your pre race advice r.e. gear choice and watching out for the hidden underwater holes which could swallow your bike - saved me on that first lap.

Lap Two and someone had turned the furnace up - did I mention it was warm? I asked @Hawkeye how his lap had been at transition and was met with 'Tough' before I set off down the starting trail. A quick note on that main straight for next year - I saw alot of near misses involving racers and kids or absent minded adults during the day. It was never outright dangerous but the was an increased risk there for sure. Not sure about the solution but would be something to consider. This lap I made it through the BJ's rockgardens cleanly, and I also made it up the pinch after the first creek crossing so I could go home happy that I had achieved something! At the end of this lap I was glad I was in the teams category as I was fatiguing and enjoyed the 40 minute break! @Lach + mate and @Andyfev looked cooked back at the pits by this stage - well done fellas.

Onto Lap 3 and by now there were some very tired people on course - I've never seen so many slow moving racers! The first half of the lap was fine - the heat of the sun was mostly blocked by the tree canopy. Out in the openness of the second half of the course it was a challenge with tired legs and relentless sun beating down on backs bent over handlebars chewing stems Smiling Over the line for the team's 6th lap and phew thank God that's over!

The sense of personal achievement isn't as high with a team, given you do only half the amount of laps as a solo, however I really enjoyed the day, the challenging course, the banter with the guys in the pits and the shouts of encouragement from locals and even photographers. A big well done to @PeteB with 7 solo laps and @Fatboy with 6 and both still smiling at the end Smiling

Lach's picture

.. and thanks for the shade!

ahein's picture

Sounds like you had some fun with Hawkeye. Look forward to joining you guys at the next one

hawkeye's picture

A tip for those crossing that creek if ever we race there again - don't sit too close to the wheel in front. I did first time through, the girl almost went base over apex when she dropped into one of those aforementioned holes, and thereafter the "slow down, dismount and walk" move got stuck in my head each time I went through. Bah!

Fortunately the little bit of ground I lost was mostly made up as those who rode the climb out of the creek slowed to a crawl to recover, while I blasted off down the fire road with fresh(er) legs.

Thanks for the invite to join you sikllama. That pergola was very welcome as the day progressed. Looking forward to the next round at Singleton. I hear the course is a lot flatter, but now I'm wondering what surprises Martin will spring to maintain the difficulty level. Eye-wink

Fatboy's picture

Great day out. Difficult race as you said Rob. Good to have our NoBMoB team tent set up. Hopefully as @hawkeye says we have less climbing at Singleton!

andyfev's picture

Champion effort... Hard day in the saddle. Appreciate the team atmosphere at 6x3 NobMob Smiling

EDIT: Found this ride entry from a HMBA event at Singleton.It is pretty flat and more for the quick guys that can keep pace through switchbacks. From memory there are only two climbs (small inclines really) to talk about and they only hurt after repeated bashings. I do remember it can be puncture city though due to the bush up there... Stay on the track or you'll get flats Eye-wink

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