cross country

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.

Middleadrawn

Middle Distance Side A – Route Drawn

Middlebdrawn

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.

Middleadrawnerrors

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

 

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Stormy Weather

Since the Pinorolo ride it has been a fairly relaxed few days of training. It has also been difficult to train due to some circumstances restricting me to train.

Sunday I paid Mont Blanc a visit. Very beautiful and stunning mountains. It was unreal how high they went and the sheer cliffs that loomed over the valley road. You get a sore neck just from looking up all the time to soak in the beauty. But my visit was short lived and we had to drive back to collect people from the train station and sit in the humid town of Mazze’.

I am still staying with Liz Randall who is competing in the World Masters events for road cycling. (She is doing very well, winning her age group in the Crit and the TT) She needs the car to get into the events to race, understandably. So that means all of my rides have to be from where we are staying. Meaning a lot of road riding. Flat road riding. Boring road riding. I brought my MTB over to ride trails, but I have done one ride in two weeks on dirt and it was just a fire road climb. A very nice ride and I enjoyed it immensely. I just feel like I am not getting the most out of my mountain bike.

The days are hot and the weather forecast has been for rain and thunder storms. Which has only been increasing the humidity and making the sky very hazy. It has only been storming a little bit at nights. Nothing that local to us.

Getting to sleep has been extremely difficult. The town has a loud bell which is right next to us and bongs every hour and half hour. When its 12.30am you can hear constant bell ringing after it has stopped. The house has loud wooden floors that makes it sound like an elephant is walking through the upstairs living room. I am lucky to get to sleep before 11pm.

On Wednesday Alex and I put in a solid ride because it was forecasted that there was definitely going to be rain the following day. So we went out and did a solid 80km ride out to Biella and back. My legs felt fairly tired after some solid riding into the wind and then another solid return effort.

Each day I find out something that I enjoy about Europe, and that day I found some more things I like about Europe. The amount of lovely little villages you pass through whilst out on a ride. The villages break up the some of the boring country view and also provide you with shops and water springs if you need food or water. Back in Australia you need to almost have a small bike trailer if you want to do any serious long rides or know where all the “secret” water spots are hope you ride past a petrol station.

On Saturday we head up to Feltre which will be nice. Surrounded by mountains and hopefully surrounded by MTB trails.