With two races to run in the 2012 Real Insurance XCM Series the guitars are being tuned for the thrill of a relatively unknown course out at Wollombi. The CycleNation and H Events phones and in-boxes have been running hot with questions about the Yango State Forest course. Despite an increase in distance by 15km from last year, this event takes the mantle as the ‘sprint’ race of the Real Insurance XCM Series with riders pumping out 75km through the pristine forests west of Newcastle.
With the racing done and dusted for the day, bikes will be swapped for musical instruments as the annual Wollombi FitROCK kicks off. If you can knock out a tune, bring along your instrument or vocal chords. Competitors will have a chance to race and then rock. The crew at H Events always have a house band and racers are welcome to come and jam the afternoon away. And remember, it’s Father’s Day weekend so expect Dad to be singing it loud!
At the pointy end of the field, the fab three of Shaun Lewis, Andy Blair and Adrian Jackson will be pulling no punches to gather all points possible in the final throes of the fight for the 2012 Real Insurance XCM Series title. Expect close, fast racing with the open course not allowing anyone to get away. Thrilling sprint finishes have been the theme of this year’s series and Lewis has shown his mettle in all of them. With Blair and Jackson having spent the winter dipping their toes into the inaugural National Cyclocross Series, perhaps this will change at the Wild Ride.
Outside the elite podium there is a bun fight for the glory of a top ten finish with only 600 points separating 10th and 30th place in the series. On this course there will be plenty of opportunity to organise a group to ride ‘a bloc’ together. For those gunning for a category place, your closest competitors will be in sight for most of the race. Both the Wild 45km and 75km are looped courses with some two way sections on the way back. The course has some very steep climbs and descents and the surface is mostly fire trails and gravel roads in various degrees of condition, from rough as guts to quite smooth. With the series finale at the Briars Highland Fling only two and a half months away the pressure is on for 2012 bragging rights.
In the women’s race, Jenny Fay is looking to make good on her conviction to win every race of the series. With the Australian Mountain Bike Season just around the corner, many riders are starting to shave off the weekly miles and work on their top end power. To this end it will be interesting to see who fronts up to toe the line with Fay. Peta Mullens, Becky Mates and the ever consistent Brooke Rowlands may well be chasing points at Wollombi.
With well over $15,000 in prizes on offer for the series, every category of the Real Insurance XCM race sees a more and more competitive field assemble as Australia’s mountain bikers chase the increasing glory of this series. But remember, the race compound and registration area is in the grounds of the Wollombi Tavern so with a bit of Dutch courage there’s no excuse not to come armed with an old guitar and the lyrics to your favourite tune.