In a big change from 2011, the 2012 Crocodile Trophy started with a standard cross country format race. Using the old World Cup/World Championship trails in Smithfield, the local course setters came up with a challenging but not overly technical 6km loop for the racers to start on. With 130 racers in Cairns for the Crocodile Trophy, it would be tight racing up the paddock from James Cook University and straight into the single track.
From the gun a fast pace was set. If you weren’t going to be in the top 15 or so riders into the trails, then you would be waiting. At this point, the field would spread out like elastic, stretching at both ends. Justin Morris and Werner van der Merwe had great positioning for Subaru-MarathonMTB.com – and I chose to start further down the back with Martin from Rocky Trail Entertainment. Perhaps this was overly foolish, as there was a lot of waiting and traffic on course.
The riding was an absolute blast! The red dirt of smithfield had settled with some rain the previous day, and there was traction and cool temperatures under the trees. With the Croc Trophy drawing strong road racers and strong mountain bikers alike, it suited some racers more than others. A few well ranked racers were seen towards the back with a good dose of red dirt on their sides.
The Cairns locals were out in force, not only volunteering as course marshals, but cheering on all racers as they made their way through. Trail building legend Glen Jacobs was even out scoping out his good work.
In the front of the race, Ivan Rybarik took the win ahead of Mike Mulkens and a surprised Jason English. Werner van der Merwe had a great ride, and was 5th in Masters 1. I finished somewhere mid field, not too fussed. English claimed he was surprised to end up 3rd, after coming into the single track in about 10th, and just maintaining his effort through the race. Cory Wallace and Matt Page had steady races, but clearly haven’t had the same recovery as English from the Scott 24hr solo. This is only stage one though…
Unfortunately, Justin Morris had an untimely mechanical at the end of the first lap, tearing his derailleur hanger off his bike. A quick stop to make his Bianchi a singlespeed was short-lived, as the wheel would not stay in the bike with part of the hanger missing. This means Justin is last on general classification, so may be allowed a long leash to chase a stage win later in the tour.
Now, it’s time to pack our spares into the Subaru, which includes spare wheels, tyres, chains, brake pads and a whole pile if SIS Nutrition. With bags and a hefty supply of coke as well, the car will be well loaded as it drives support to Lake Tinaroo tomorrow.