The 2012 Real Insurance XCM Series packs its board shorts this weekend with the running of the Stevens Bikes Husky 100
If you looked at the Real Insurance XCM Series calender at the start of the year you would have noticed a half time break for the months of May and June. While certainly not the beer swilling, turkey gorging stuff of Christmas, it was enough to make one wonder how things were going to shape up before and after. Who needed the physio and who could smell a fast finish.
As if to deny that hardcore racing is back upon us, the 2012 Real Insurance XCM Series packs its board shorts this weekend with the running of the Stevens Bikes Husky 100. More used to surfers and holiday makers the sleepy, ever-so-relaxed township of Callala Beach on Jervis Bay will lull riders into a false sense of security before pounding them with a demanding course profile. When the gun goes off at 7:30am Saturday morning, riders will rock 100 kilometres of beach, bush, sand and mud through some of the areas finest singletrack throughout the Currambene and Nowra State Forests. The riders who are out to tackle the 50km version at XC race pace will do so at 9am. The pizza’s start being served at 11am.
Powered by CycleNation this event is Round 4 of the series, and when the dust settles on Saturday – the after party at the Callala Beach RSL starts at 6pm. At his point we will officially be past the half way point in the series, with a clearer view of the main contenders for the series titles. It already seems a lifetime ago that the big guns lined up at the Wombat 100 in Victoria to start the tightly packed first three rounds. The first month of racing, which saw three hundred kilometres of racing over three consecutive weekends, was an intense start to the series that has captured the competitive Australian mountain bike endurance community for the past two years. Wise heads knew it was to be a season of two halves with the breather during May and June seeing riders either licking wounds or racing their way into form. How will it shake out over Coondoo, Superbowl and the Butterfly Track? Have bodies been healed or harmed in the two month break?
Series leader Andy Blair (Swell-Redshift) spent the break winning the Australian MTB Marathon Championships and backing up for his second Ingkerreke Commercial MTB Enduro win. Is he getting tired or is he ready to continue what may well be his best season yet? After a blistering start to the series which saw him winning the first two rounds, Shaun Lewis (Rockstar Racing) pulled out of the the Convict 100 at the halfway point. Apart from a 7th place in the Australian MTB Marathon Championships he has been laying low ever since, except for a couple of scorching laps at the Singletrack Mind race at Kowen Forest recently. The Stevens Bikes Husky 100 this weekend will see Blair and Lewis go head to head in the series for the first time since late April. Has Lewis timed a break to perfection or is Blair on an unstoppable roll?
Perhaps Trenton Day is ready to make a late charge through the final three rounds of the 2012 Real Insurance XCM Series? He spent the break nailing 2nd the Australian MTB Marathon Championships and winning the Rock Wallaby – all this after a solid 2nd place at the Convict 100. Most recently, Day has been racing the North West tour as part of the National Road Series. Saturday could be his day.
And the irrepressible Jason English? He spent the break in Italy winning the WEMBO 24hr World Championships and by all reports is raring to make an impression on the XCM series leader board. Anthony Shippard and his Jet Racing crew will be ready to make a big impact, after the launch of their sponsors new store this Thursday 28th June, on Clarence Street in Sydney.
Jenny Fay (Rockstar Racing) seems to find the Real Insurance XCM Series crown fits nicely. But can it guarantee a race win? No one toeing the start line will be more motivated to than the ever smiling Beck Mates, she has every chance of breaking through for her first Real Insurance XCM Series win against a field that also includes WEMBO 24hr Champ Jess Douglas (Liv/Giant) and Brooke Rowlands. What a story that would be.
One thing we do know is that the elite of the Australian mountain biking field will come back together to duke it out at the Stevens Bikes Husky 100, the Wollombi Wild Ride and the Highland Fling. With well over $15,000 on prizes on offer for the series, the start line of every Real Insurance XCM race sees a stronger and stronger field assemble as those chase the ever increasing cash and glory of this series.
Don’t be fooled by the board shorts and surfboards though, half time is over.