The Australian contingent at the 2012 Crocodile Trophy is very strong. Although Graeme Arnott was the highest placed Australian rider (4th) in 2011, he isn’t returning in 2012. Justin Morris has taken time out from his racing with the his pro-conti road team, Team Type 1, to race the Croc again with Subaru-MarathonMTB.com.
The Croc Trophy has a bit of a reputation for being very hard, what did you know about it before deciding to compete for the first time?
The Crocodile has long been written into the folklore of mountain biking worldwide. When I was a young 14 year old just getting into bike racing, I recall watching the television coverage of the race and have been in absolute awe of it since. When I was a junior Craig Gordon was the hero of XC MTB in Australia, I remember been inspired by his mammoth efforts in the race.
What made you decide to come to the race in 2012?
I am reguarly reminded of how adamant I was of never ever competing in this race again after finishing the 2011 edition. However, as I think with many things in life, the pain and painful memories subside quite quickly and you are left with just fond memories. The race is a spectacle, and being able to compete with the challenges of Type1 diabetes and use this as an example for others how challenges are just that – challenges, not barriers is most important to me. When I speak publicly as part of my duties with Team Type1, the crocodile trophy is very powerful in capturing people’s imagination because it is so different and so hard. I think this is my main reason for returning: to reiterate the message that I am passionate about spreading that anything is still possible with the challenges of diabetes.
The Croc Trophy delivers heat, long distances, and remote stage locations. What do you see as the biggest challenge for you – and how have you prepared for it?
Managing my Blood Sugar Levels (BSLs) is probably my biggest challenge in every race I compete in. Having completed the Croc Trophy once before now I am a little more cogniscent of how to prepare my diabetes management for the Croc Trophy journey ahead. The heat and distance can very easily play games with BSLs, I have to be very wary particuarly of overnight low BSLs which can be very dangerous. I have been speaking with my Endocrinologist about some strategies to keep my BSL sensitivity up during this race.
MTB Stage racing has captured the imagination of many mtbers around the world, with over a thousand competitors at some events. Does the relatively small field of the Crocodile Trophy concern you?
Not at all. This race attracts the most foolhardy of racers. The competition is always top notch and logistically this race can not cater for a huge number of riders. One of the special things about this race is the relationships that are forged with your comrades on the trail for the journey. By the end of the race everyone is mates. I would not like to see this disappear from this race.
Who do you see as the main challengers for 2012?
I hear Jason English will be starting this year. His reputation speaks for itself and will be the main Aussie to watch. However, there are as always many Euro’s to watch this year. Mike Mulkens has many times finished on the podium in this event and is a superbly skilled rider. I note the pro roadie Josef Beneseder is returning again. He was super strong in 2011 and will be so again in 2012. Also Ondrej from Bernard Beer has been posting some impressive results on the Australian calendar and seem’s to be in tip top condition.
What is your bike setup for the Croc Trophy – are there any specific changes to your equipment?
With Subaru-MarathonMTB.com this year we are using the Bianchi Methanol 29er hardtail. I have always been a hardtail man and the Bianchi looks the goods, running a carbon frame takes a bit of weight off from what I have been riding and an integrated seatpost I hope is a good omen for me. Last year I lost a lot of time on a stage where My seatpost snapped on 3 seperate occasions, forcing a long uncomfortable ride. A Shimano XT group set is always reliable. Wheels are done by wheelsbybosch.com, I am a fan of a custom handbuilt wheelset as this is the part of the bike that usually cops the most abuse. Maxxis Tyres, Mt Zoom bars, bar ends and cages and a Fizik seat. Just proven parts!