Australia

You Yangs National XCO Race

Thank you to fortheriders.com and Giant for the support. The Giant XTC felt fast and nimble over the course and handled the rocks flawlessly.

 

 

The first round of the Subaru Australian National MTB Series was held at the You Yangs in Victoria. This was my first national race I have competed in and boy it was next level racing compared to state racing. The venue was huge and the track was fast, laps were many and the competition was filled to the brim with great talent.

I am racing in the Elites category now since I turn 23 in 2015, and the national series is a 2015 series. I felt like I was jumping into the deep end of the pool once again. With riders like, Daniel McConnell, Scott Bowden (U23), Chris Hamilton (U23), Andrew Blair and Adrian Jackson (who finished in that order), you knew it was going to a tough and fast race.

Picture from flowmountainbike.com

Left to right: 4th Andrew Blair, 2nd Scott Bowden (U23), 1st Daniel McConnell, 3rd Chris Hamilton (U23)

The XCO course at the You Yangs was a mix of a long steady climb that included a couple of technical rock pinches that caused chaos to people at the rear. (I watched the chaos unfold in front of me) You were then treated with a fast flowing single track down the side of the hill with semi-sketchy corners where if you came in too fast you weren’t going to have a good time. The ground was hardpack with a thin layer of loose grainy rocks, i.e. traction on second and nothing the next.

For the next part of the course you had a tight, hair pinned climb section, again scattered with some technical rock sections on the climb. Once you had climbed up top, you more or less followed the ridge line which had its fair share of boulder rides and fast flowing single track into the final descent. The final descent lead you into a flat flowing section of single track, winding you through the forest taking you back to the natural velodrome where you went through for timing and to start your new lap.

Picture from youyangsmtbinc.com.au

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You Yangs Map and Course

This was a tough race and Victoria didn’t put on a famous heat wave, but it was  certainly burn friendly. I raced fairly poorly, I felt like I hit the wall on the first lap. During the third lap the focus was on finishing my first national XCO race. I felt my poor performance was mixture of having a bad day combined with I have to spend some more time pedaling my legs off. Regardless of this, it was a great experience and given me a point to work from and I know now where I stand, 21st it seems. Only room for improvement now.

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Ice Like Mud

World MTB Orienteering Championships, Poland 2014

The Australian and New Zealand team hits Poland! The town of Supraśl will be the home of all MTBO teams for the WOC week. There are training maps surrounding the town which was perfect for our team to get a taste for the Polish mapping and terrain.

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We jumped into training with a map starting on our back doorstep which was handy. Although the maps were quite out of date and a lot of the grading wasn’t accurate some tracks were ‘sometimes’ there. This didn’t make anyone feel too confident about their navigation ability. Especially when you were more or less running through the bush where the track should have been to get the control.

Each day the maps got better but still had inconsistencies, but they were building up our confidence. Well it was building mine up slowly. Almost everyone had slight mechanicals throughout the training week. No one had anything major or terribly expensive mechanicals. Best to get them done before the actual races and have your machine race ready.

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Approaching the official start of WOC we had ‘unofficial’ two man mixed teams relay where we could only create one official team in the masters for the ‘unofficial’ mixed relay. So Alex and Carolyn went out to smash the opposition. Which they did by taking out the gold. This was a perfect pre-race for the sprint on the following day. After the ‘official’ ‘unoffical’ mixed teams relay race. Everyone paired up with another team mate for the unofficial race of the ‘unofficial’ mixed relay.

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I had a good first leg and came in just behind Jorgen from Norway who would be in the top ten in the world for MTBO. The racing was fast and still chaotic with all the other teams zig zagging everywhere over the map. Tim (Timmy) Jackson had some solid rides but there were a couple questionable tracks which caused a little confusion but nothing major.

 

Unfortunately this was the day where the weather started to deteriorate and continued to get worse for the opening ceremony and on the day of the Sprint it got worse. Cold, wet weather created muddy conditions ou ton course. Luckily we could warm up inside a gym with out-of-use ice skating rink which doubled up as a warm shelter for the teams.

 

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I strategically used my long hair to keep my neck warm and since it was muddy it was going to increase my bike handling skills through the mud and the forest. The hair did it’s job, but I made a couple of errors during my race and a couple of not-so-optimal route choices. I can nitpick my course apart, but when it comes to it I just missed a few tracks and totally buggered a checkpoint losing maybe two minutes.

 

While racing, we had to deal with ice like mud and forest where you could cut through easily, but the forest would surprise you with slippery hidden logs. Cutting was essential and was worth it. If you could see the control in the distance, BUSH-BASH! Also knowing roughly in what direction the control was you barely had to navigate the tracks if the leg wasn’t too long.

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The maps were great, accurate and provided a great area for a sprint. This seemed to suit Angus who smashed out his course racing into third but slowly got pushed back down to tenth. Tim and Karl also had solid rides but just wasn’t quite on pace as the rest of the field. Alex didn’t have the best ride and was a little spun around by the new tracks created by the cutting through the forest and had a tiny brain fart on one leg where he did a 180. Not a day for him, but the middle and the long should suit his form and style of riding.

Our honorary Australian, Tim Robertson from New Zealand smashed the european dominated field to take out second place in his first JWOC appearance. He has talent and experience on his side. Before this major event he took out the Sprint Foot JWOC earlier this year and raced at WOC. Being the only New Zealand rider here we gave him our full support as he got up onto the podium. You legend Tim!

The middle will be next up then followed by a rest day. Let’s hope the weather clears up and we can get some of that sweet european summer sunshine.

Australian Champs, Middle Distance

So this years Australian Championships were held in Alice Springs. I wouldn’t say I performed well, at all. I would say I was the fittest one who rode hard enough to reduce the huge errors and bad route choices I chose.

Alice Springs at this time of year is sunny, cold and windy. When there is no wind the temperature is perfect, you can feel warmth of the sun on your back and you can wear shorts and t-shirts, but once the wind picks up you need to be covered with layers of clothing, although this is coming from a Queenslander where in a 15 degree day I will struggle to leave the bed because it is too cold. (Like I might put on arm warmers for 5 rides of the year in Queensland)

The middle distance race was the first race on the Australian Championships calendar. This one was probably my worst ride of the year, although it’s not hard to beat that since I have probably done less than six MTBO races this year and some of the other Australian Team members have maybe done two. Especially if you’re from Tasmania where there is no MTBO races all year round.

So I will dive into what tricked me up about the middle distance. The middle distance map was a double sided A3 page. This is usually fine with my map board which is a Autopilot which fits larger maps fine. It was way they decided to show the course on both sides of the map was a little annoying and pointless. On one side of the map they fell short of fitting the course and the map on one side to take the mens elite up north where they needed an extra 4-5cm of map. So they chose to make it double sided.

It felt like the mapper/course setter could have moved the map around to only show the necessary check points so it would fit on an A4 sized page and then fit the rest of the map on one side. So you wouldn’t have to refold. What they chose to do is to print the course on both sides, so at the start you were shown a 98% complete course and tried to fold the map to fit everything in. In hindsight I see that I could of just folded the map in half to start off with but it wasn’t so clear in the rush of the 1 minute pre start seeing the whole of your course bar one check point. Reflecting on it now I am not sure if I should have been smarter to realised this or if it was over looked when course setting or controlling.

So these next two pictures are my scanned copy of the Elite Mens Middle (Mens 21) Distance course to show you what I mean by having a double sided for just one control.

Middlea

Middle Distance Side A

 

Middleb

Middle Distance Side B

 

So I have drawn my course on in red. On the map PTO is there to tell the racer to flip your map over to the other side. I have stopped at that control and started to draw where to go on the next side.

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Middle Distance Side A – Route Drawn

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Middle Distance Side B – Route Drawn

For the next set I have circled parts of the course with a green pen to show where I made the errors and where I use the green pen to show where I thought the optimal route was.

Obviously you can find the huge error on the way to the start, I was still folding the map and I felt un-organised and just rode past the turn off. The tracks were very difficult to pick up even though you had great visibility over the landscape.

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The biggest error is missing the 4th control after having troubles finding a track entrance to checkpoint 3 which more or less didn’t exist, there were a few scratches in the ground which lead you into the control. The same with the 5th checkpoint I picked up a track that lead me to the checkpoint but it wasn’t as shown on the map.

After those early errors I got into an ok rhythm but went to take the right hand track on the way to 10 and it was a gap jump and it wasn’t possible to ride up it. (I know what you’re thinking, “What Chris can’t do a gap jump up hill?!”) I only lost a few seconds. Heading to 13 out of 12 I didn’t look close enough and flip my bike around and road out the way I came in more or less and it was 10-20 seconds slow which is hurt knowing I could of just continued forwards out of the check point.

MiddlebdrawnerrorsYou can see around control 14 I nearly rode off the map, I think I actually did. I was feeling fairly puffed after the climb. I knew I had to turn left just after the top of the hill and it was on the turn. When you got there, there was no track off to the left. Nothing. After riding past, then returning to where the track should start, I rode across the ‘unrideable’ yellow. After 20-40m of riding through the open a track appeared and lead you to the check point. A few other people had this problem as well. In the end it didn’t matter since I completely missed check point 4 earlier in the race.

Here at the WinSplits for the middle distance:
Middle Distance Class Splits

Middle Distance M21/Elite Splits

 

What has been happening Chris?

Flying out on the 21st of July to Italy is what is happening!

I have been fairly pre-occupied with racing and training as well as planning my trip and finalising dates for my overseas trip!

From the 22nd of July to the 17th of August I will be in Italy training with a friend of mine in Turin, then we will head up to Feltre for a final week. We will be close to the Italian alps and MTBO maps as well as some nice single track, if we can find it. I can already feel this trip is going to be great experience.

I will be in Estonia, Tallinn from the 18th of August to the end of August where I will be training with the Australian Mountain Bike Orienteering Team and competing in my first World Mountain Bike Orienteering Championships. Since I have turned 21 this year I am not eligible for the Junior World Mountain Bike Orienteering Championships.

So from the 1st of September I get to travel/holiday with my bike for 30 days – tricky. What I have whittled my options and interests down to is taking a ferry to Finland, Helsinki for a few days before flying to Germany, Berlin. I’ll spend  a few days in Berlin doing some touristy things as well as trying to find some cool trails to ride on. I hope there are some club XC races happening that I could attend while I am there.

After Berlin I will be jumping on a train to the Netherlands and down to Belgium for a week or so. I want to try and do a bit of riding here and exploring. Then I will head up to Amsterdam for a bit then off too Czech to stay with some friends and do more riding.

This should bring me up to the 28th where I have to make my way to Austria to be there on the 29th to start my German Language course. I have wanted to do something like this for awhile because of all the competitors who come from other countries and have learned English to communicate with other people, makes me feel selfish. So I am putting myself through a four week German beginner course and I hope I learn enough to talk to some people in German.

After mastering German in four weeks (haha I wish) I fly down to France, Nice to meet up with my parents and I will spend a couple of weeks there, then heading home. I think the trip will roughly take me about four months. My bank account is going to be feeling fairly empty by the end of this.

While I am over there I hope to blog a lot more and write a race report for each day of the World Mountain Bike Orienteering Championships.

Killer drivers and Rapid Illness

I was on a long ride this Saturday with my friend riding out to a nice climb. The climb up Mt.Mee that gives you a nice view of Samford looking down over the valley and I recommend this climb if you are in Brisbane. On the way up we were interrupted by classic murdering type of Australian driver. I am not sure what it is like out side of Australia or out side of Brisbane because I haven’t done too much road cycling out of Brisbane. We were taking it fairly easy on the way up when this driver in like a big ute pulling a trailer decides to tell us who’s road it is and why we shouldn’t be on it. Now days I have couldn’t give rats arse to what could be coming out of a motorist mouth, so I just threw out a, “Yeah alright mate!” This is when the vehicle stops. We over take him ignoring his further vulgar language and insults and his well in depth thought remarks. My mate was riding up on the left hand side and I was about to join him when he started to tail gate us and I was still on the out side in between oncoming traffic trapped by this driver. He tried to push me out and over take us almost swerving into me and getting too close for comfort on my friend back wheel. Not to forget he over took on a double line section. Eventually I join my friend as the driver over takes then veers in sharply almost taking me out with his trailer. Quickly I jumped off my bike to get my phone to snap a pic of his licence plate but my mate said, don’t bother. He had it all recorded on his GoPro which was mounted to his handlebars.

My friend uploaded another clip before the video footage I explain, you can skip in 31 seconds if you wish.

 

Also I woke up feeling a little odd on Saturday. My legs didn’t feel like they were all there. I found out why at 2am on Sunday waking up with a huge fever, blocked nose, a head ache that felt like two people were kicking me in the side of the head. My muscles were in such aching pain, (similar to growing pains if you have experienced them) and from feeling like it was the arctic winds of Antarctica to heat of a hot 40 degree day in Brisbane. I am still currently sick but the serious part of the fever was past by the night of Sunday. Today (10/12/12) I just have a bit of a bad cough and blocked nose. So a pretty basic cold.

I am thinking of getting a handlebar mount for my GoPro for rides that I do so I can see if I can film anything interesting or catch dangerous motorists on my training rides. Stay safe on the roads and enjoy your ride.