Saturday 30th June saw the 3rd running of the Stevens Bikes Husky 100 – and for a nice change, the skies were clear. For 2012, the ‘Husky’ is the fourth round of the Real Insurance XCM Series, and it was in the Series in the inaugural year too.
Late June feels like an unfortunate time for a Marathon race in Australia. There isn’t much daylight, or warmth, and it’s normally pretty wet. The Elite field shivered on the startling just before 7:30am, behind the Calalla Beach Country Club. Some opted to strip off warmers, others kept them on for the warmth. All the main contenders were there, with series leader Andy Blair, Shaun Lewis, Adrian Jackson, Jason English, Anthony Shippard, James Downing, Trenton Day, Andrew Hall and a whole host of others. Even pro-roadie Cam Peterson had borrowed a mountain bike for the event. Jenny Fay was there in a slightly smaller Elite womens field, to defend her series lead.
From the gun, we all took off and the bunch stayed pretty well together. Looping around the edge of the golf course under tree cover was an interesting choice, as a few people needed to pause to get branches and sticks out of wheels and drive trains. Very little was splitting the field up, save for the odd mechanical. Jason English was sidelined after about 8km, with his rear mech and chain in all sorts of loops.
There is no way to put it nicely – there was quite a lot of mud in the first half of the course. I ended up losing contact with the front group. Sometimes it was a deep mud bog, other times it was deep water. There was a lot of moisture. Personally, I questioned whether it was worth racing in the mud. Sometimes you can just have too many wet races.
Soon after the first feed zone, my Subaru-MarathonMTB.com team mate Graeme ‘Biscuit’ Arnott caught up, with a couple of other competitors. We had a laugh, got in a groove and enjoyed the drier sections while cursing the mud bogs. Jason English caught up, and with Biscuit ended up riding away. No mans land isn’t much fun, but it’s where I ended up for most of the rest of the race, until the last 30km where we had the 50km event for company.
Crossing the line, it was a sea of muddy faces and muddy bikes sprawled on the ground.
Shaun Lewis (Rockstar Racing) had taken the win, from Andy Blair (Swell-Redshift). Jason English (Flight Centre – Merida) had got back to the front and come in third. Andrew Hall (Radical Lights) took fourth from a disappointed Anthony Shippard (Jet Racing) in 5th. The racing was tight, with about 8 guys still together in the closing stages. Cam Peterson had been stringing it out, but the constant surges all race took its toll and he wasn’t there to contest the finish, but secured a top 10 finish.
Jenny Fay rode a consistent race, but a depleted field had her playing cat and mouse with some of the mens elite, using them for motivation.
Cam Ivory won the 50km event, taking a great win from Garry Millburn by attacking at the last bog hole. Full race results can be found on the race website.
The Real Insurance XCM Series continues to change the face of Marathon racing in Australia. The elite field is consistently stronger at each round, so being able to win a race is becoming increasingly difficult. The consistency of wins by Shaun Lewis and Jenny Fay has really shown how well prepared they have been. However, we are seeing sprint finishes in most of the mens events, especially from a larger group today. Do the courses need to be more decisive in the future?
Camo Peterson recaps his ‘ride’ and great result at the Husky 100