This Race Report has been provided by Tim Bateman (Hoax Racing Australia)
With the exception of the Mont and Scott in the last year, I had missed the chance to do any lap based enduros for about 6 months at least. While the 24hr events are bigger, there also comes more stress as larger teams are racing and extra logistics such as lighting and food are required. So I leapt at the chance to join my good team mate and long time friend Graeme Arnott (MarathonMTB.com Race Team) in a team.
Fast forward to Stromlo Forest Park on Sunday morning, 7:30am, -4 deg celsius and foggy.
As I prepared my bike for the race, my initial concerns of a brake line problem passed when I realised the wheel was still spinning because of a layer of ice that had to be cleared from the rotor! This was to be my first outing on a 29er was I was a little nervous to say the least.
We were seeking a more relaxed approach to the day’s proceedings so we brought in another buddy Steve to allow us to race in 3s. In my usual state of disorganisation I was to be the first rider off, and as usual I hit the start line about 3 rows back with little to no warmup. I crept forward and away from the barrier to the right as best I could but soon enough the gun went and off we started. Now in contrast to the road racing I have been doing lately where there is a crash 50 metres from the finish, this time a pileup on the left hand side of the crit track impeded the start of about a third of the field.
The start loop was a lap of the Stromlo crit circuit, and the earlier pileup did little to discourage me as I was too busy fighting for wheels and holding my position as the bunch smashed it towards the first bit of singletrack. Order was established and off we went. My recollection of the start lap is one of absolute agony. Despite wearing virtually everything I had taken with me, my hands were still agonizingly frozen and the cold air cut through the arms of my fleecy jersey like a knife.
I could barely feel the bars let alone my brake levers (thankfully carbon bladed) … so as we crested the small rises in the singletrack I would ride ever more gingerly on the downs, even having to let a few hard fought positions slip. Luckily the lap soon ended and I passed onto Graeme in a reasonable position, and he took us up to 1st in category and firmly inside the top 10 overall. We held this position for the rest of the day and lapped without incident … even sneaking past our local friends and adversaries the Stevens male pair on the last lap!
After a bit of time away from the scene, I was impressed with the event. The pairs teams in both the open and Masters categories are very tightly contested at the top of the field. At Stromlo the combination of Castech timing and the large lap board easily let us check our lap times and be amazed at some of the laps being put in. The registration was much more streamlined and pain free than before, probably due to the Wednesday cutoff the week before and a slicker organisation. Yet none of the relaxed vibe or the friendly faces have disappeared, which is great!
Thanks to Chocolate Foot, CORC and team mates Graeme and Steve for a great day out! I look forward to the next round, just hope the calendar is free to race.