Last weekend saw race 2 of the PMBC XC series contested down at Pemberton in WA’s beautiful South West. This was set to be a big weekend with 2 XC races on the Saturday with 20% extra points up for grabs followed by a Super D on the Sunday.
With a bit of prepacking on Thursday night it was a dash home from work on Friday to load it all into the car before heading south. The trip down was pretty boring except for the spectacular meteor that flashed across the sky half way down. A quick stop for food in Bunbury and I was soon in Pemby where I met up with Doozy and we headed to our humble accommodation for the weekend, the Pemberton Forest Stay. 1st on the list was to get the fire going so there was some warmth when we hit the hay, really should have been going and waiting for us but we won’t hold that against the rest of the crew 🙂
Saturday morning after some sort of sleep it was up and at em. The crew was ready to roll with 6 of us mounting up for the day including our new recruit Gemma, this was to be her first XC race (did she really know what she was in for??) Most of us were hoping to get in a practice lap before rego and the race, as per usual this didn’t happen. I managed to take Gemma for a quick lap of the skills loop to give her a taste for the terrain and bit of a leg warmup.
A bit of a quick opening presentation and the juniors were soon off and racing, some of these young riders are well on their way to being future champions. Soon after it was time for the 1st wave of riders to line up and head off. Mike was first off with the old fellas soon to be followed by myself in Sport Men & Gemma in Sport Women for race 1. Mounted up with 2 cameras this race I was hoping for some great footage and the spanking new seat post mounted GoPro did not disappoint. The start was not too frantic with many riders choosing to take it easy early on as part of their 2 race strategy.
We headed around the skills loop and back through the transition area before heading up the hill via a number of switchbacks and the firetrail before heading back into the singletrack. A few kms of this and we were soon at the top of the Relentless Blue Downhill course. This is a nice flowing downhill run with a number of small North Shore obstacles to liven things up. This included the much loved wooden berms were I got some good footage of the rider behind be eating dirt on the exit straight (he has informed me that although a little sore he is stoked someone got it on camera). Lap 2 was much the same but with less fuel in the legs and the inherent need to keep some reserves for race 2, and the fact I did an extra lap of the skills course at the end didn’t help.
The GoPro at work
After finishing it was time for a rest and to see how the others had fared. I caught up with Ness (the better half of my team mate at the 12hr) to see how her race had gone and in the process found poor Gemma in the ambo being attended to. I though great this is what she needs in her 1st race, an accident to spook her. Well there was a bit of blood and a nice ‘trophy’ of the incident but Gemma HTFU and was keen for race 2.
By now Cat, Ash & Doozy had headed off for their races so while we rested and waited for our 2nd race we cheered them and the other riders on. There was some tight competitions happening between the different categories which definitely kept things alive from lap to lap.
Soon enough it was time for race 2 and too much chatting and catching up on how the others went almost saw us miss the start, but we made it just in time. Race 2 incorporated some common parts of the race 1 lap but threw in the Hell Mile. As the name suggests, its not the easiest piece of trail to ride, especially for your 2nd race and with the ‘lovely’ conditions. This section would make or break some riders. I took a nice swig of HTFU and just kept on going, the only thing stopping me was a few mislocated tree roots that proved a little slippery for everyone. We soon came out of Hell Mile and hit a bit of familiar trail that would lead us to the top of Cool Runnings. Now this is a lot more enjoyable, a nice downhill run consisting of a number of dirt berms and jumps to negotiate. I swear this is the only reason we are stupid enough to ride up hills.
The first lap was spent mostly trying to find the right pace and get through to the end. Lap to was just a matter of getting to the end and not giving in. Most of this lap I spent with 2 other riders who were around my pace and we helped push each other through and have a laugh along the way. As we were nearing the end of lap 2 I passed the ambo out on course, never a good thing. They already had the rider so I didn’t know who it was. I finished of the lap and was soon to find out that it was Ness. She had come off and bashed her knee on a rock. After a quick pep talk and reassurance we would grab her bike (the most important thing) Ness was off to the hospital for a checkup. (don’t worry she was fine and made it to the presentations that night)
Race 1 Start
Mike, Gemma & myself stuck around for a few laps of the 2nd race for Cat, Ash & Doozy before heading back to camp to get in a quick shower before presentations. Soon after the rest of the gang rocked back to the house, got cleaned up and we headed in for a feed and presentations.
Presentations went alright for the crew, with Mike getting 2nd for his category, Gemma picking up a bottle of wine for competing in her 1st race and Ash claiming the Grand Prize in the raffle. All in all a great day was had. Thanks to everyone who made this event possible, I don’t need to be individual Tony has done that, but I will thank him for making this race happen. With out him and the support he gets from everyone these events wouldn’t happen for us.
Note – I didn’t see much of the Super D as I had to head back to Perth, but it sounded like it went well and the bit I saw will make it worth staying for next year.
Most photos thanks to Jose from Apogee Photography – the race gallery on the Apogee site is progressively being updated this week so check back regularily to find a photo of yourself.
Today kicked off the XC season here in WA with race 1 of the PMBC XC series down at Langford Park, Jarrahdale.
It was not going to be a good day for me. It started with me finding a flat front tyre before I even left the house. Needless to say the rest fo the day followed suit.
I was feeling good and pumped for today’s race. We lined up at the start line and were soon off and racing, with me sitting in nicely near the front 10 or so riders. The trail was flowing nicely and was looking good and I felt set for a PB. These plans were shattered about 2.86km in when I went OTB (over the bars). Still not sure what caused it or how it happened, even after watchign the helmetcam. But 1 minute i’m going along nicely and the next I’m Superman. Offs don’t really bother me its a part of racing, but when you get up and find the front wheel looking a bit odd, now thats annoying. My race was now over and it had barely begun. The slow walk/roll back to the start was not the greatest either, especially when i was almost at the furtherest point out. Anyway the rest of the day was quite good. the race went nicely, the pea gravel claimed many victims and I started putting together some video for a promo (keep an eye out). Dismal start to the season and now the bike is out of action tile repairs are completed.
Check out the video of the short part of the race I did til the crash. If you have any ideas on WTF happened let me know, cos i’m stumped.
After another early rise I was packed and off to the WA XC State Champs at the Goat Farm. The weather was looking a lot better than Saturday morning, except for a strong wind, but in mountain biking the wind is less of an issue and actually was of benefit to staying cool while out on the trail.
Madrapper and myself arrived early but with no intention of wasting energy by doing a practice lap. We registered and setup bikes for the race. While preparing we heard the reports of what to expect on the course from those who had ridden it already. We were in for some climbing (which is pretty normal at the GF) but this time it was steeper and with a more technical surface (read heaps of rocks & gravel) than usual.
Just after 0930 we started, fairly uneventful with a nice wide road for riders to self seed on. Right from the outset it was climbing, the 1st km was the longest stretch of straight climbing with about 100m of vertical gain. A few riders got a bit of a push around the 1st corner by a keen spectator, while not overly needed it did aid the traction and relax the legs momentarily.
The first lap was just a matter of getting to know the course ready for the next 2 (normally thats what the practice lap is for). Most of the field had taken off and left me tail end which is normally the way on a track like the GF which has a large amount of climbing, I catch them on the downhill though (if they are not too far in front). The course zig zagged across the hill face with a few more ups and downs to mix it up. The GF has some fast sections, but is generally technical in nature due to the abundance of rocks.
After the initial climb I kicked back to enjoy the ride and lapped up every downhill run or change to get a bit or air. I passed thru the start/finish line and swapped my water for a chilled Powerade, ready to tackle the climb again. Needless to say I probably walk half of it. Saturday’s SPR ride had drained a lot of the energy I was relying on for today.
I was relieved to finally reach the top and get into some descending. A few nice switchbacks and little jumps had me feeling good again, but that was all about to change. On a fast sweeping left I went in carrying just a little (a lot really) too much speed, normally this is ok as u can usually use a bit of run off, but this section was different. The corner was off camber and the edge lined with rocks. The largest one I knew about so avoided that, but unfortunately there were many more hidden in the grass. Handfulls of brake did nothing to slow my speed, I went from 30km to nothing very fast as I collected a number of rocks and sailed over the bars, sliding to a stop in the grass. (This would have been quite spectacular to watch as a spectator)
After a moment or two laying on my back checking for feeling I sat up to see where I had landed. In some miracle my body had avoided any rocks on the way down(the bike was another story), and the only damage to me was a number of grazes, bruised shoulder & kit full of pointy irritating grass seeds. The bike didn’t fare quite as good but came out a lot better than expected. I blew out both tyres and twisted the bars and all attached cabling backwards. The rims look alright but will need a good inspection this week. The rest of the bike seems to have pulled up ok, save for a few scratches, but thats normal for MTB, (no flimsy roadie frames here 🙂 ). Also thanks to the fellow racer who stopped to check I was ok, I must have been in a bit of a daze as he triple checked I was ok before continuing on.
Once I had gathered my brain and put the bike back into shape it was a nice walk down the hill to the carpark. I loaded the broken beast and headed to the finish line to wait for Madrapper. He ended up meeting me half way there and I snapped him loving the climb back up the hill on his final lap. I hang round the finish and caught up with Nic and a few of the other lads whom had DNFed as well or finished earlier races. We checked out the new season’s stock of Merida bikes and watched some rounds of the State 4X Champs that were also on at the time. Eventually Madrapper came in and we refueled on sausage sizzle and Coke.
A rather disappointing finish to the season, but I will be back next year to improve and hopefully have a better season. This was the last XC race for the year excepting the Round Tu-it 6hr & Alcoa Dusk til Dawn 12hr in late November. I hope to make the 12hr work permitting and field a team with Madrapper and a few others.
Course & Stats (at least the lap I managed) *Note the sudden drop in speed at the end when crashing but also the sudden spike in HR when I must have been midair. You can also see how off course I ended up.