Thursday, February 7, 2019

Jollynose - SuperFlow 2018

Epic days begin like this, it is still dark.

Pack the car, load the bike.

Short drive, pick up team mate.

It is still dark, there is no traffic.

Hornsby, Wyong, first light.

Bulahdelah, Nabiac, Taree, almost there.

Dusty road, unload bikes, rego.

A tale of bookends.

Bookend 1 - Race Run 1

I had a quiet word to myself, have a safe smooth run, get a run on the board. The top section was pretty open and fast before moving through a more rocky section. From there it was a number of rollers and jumps before the mostly flat sprint to the finish.

Have a safe smooth run, I get down past most of the obstacles, just before the flat finish, the bike has handled well and I find myself in the dirt, on my back beside the trail. How did that happen? I'm shaken, I take a couple of breaths before checking myself for injuries. I'm just covered in dirt, my shoulder seems to have made contact as I was thrown.

A number of riders pass me including my team mate, yes I'm ok thanks, but I'm still a bit shaken as this felt like one of the biggest offs I have had in a very long time. Retrieve the bike from where it had landed in the bush, all seems ok. What did I hit?

I look over the trail, there is nothing obvious at first but as I walk around the corner I spot a 100mm tall thin sapling stump on the inside of the corner. Did this just collect me? I look back to where I collected myself from the dirt, yep must have been. I listen out for any immediate riders before rolling through to the finish timing. Not the safe smooth run I had envisaged.

Bookend 2 - Final Race Run

The same trail a run 1. I needed to revisit and better my time from that first run, but my day had been generally dulled by the crash. No runs today had been 100%, my shoulder had tightened after taking some of the impact, and I couldn't find the spark to light-up the trails. Just one more run, better my crash time, safe and smooth.

Through the open flowing dusty section into the rocks, keep the hardtail light and dancing. Move to the rollers and jumps, sweet, just remember the stump on the inside of the corner, done. Not far to go almost at the flat sprint section, then BAM! The back end of the bike flails loosely around, a quick glance confirms just before the only part of this trail specifically designed for the hardtail rider in mind ;), the rear rubber has come off the rim! Oh it is to late in the day for this, I muscle-up over the front wheel and ride onto the flat sprint section, there is no stopping now. I cross the line on flat rubber and call it a day.

Awesome to share the podium with long time shredder Kyle

At the time JetBlack MTB Racing was partnered with The Odd Spoke, Natural Balance, Rocky Trail Entertainment and AMB. Series results so far, here (yes, we are leading the Hardtail Category).

Full Jollynose SuperFlow Round results here.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Ourimbah - SuperFlow

It was only last week we were racing at Ourimbah in the GP4, AND this week we are back again, this time for SuperFlow! SuperFlow is the new generation of Rocky Trail's Rollercoaster Series, of which we participated in originally (1st - 2012, 5th - 2013, 23rd - 2014). It is the XC take on Gravity Enduro, with probably the most popular Enduro series, the Enduro World Series (EWS) grabbing most of the attention.

So we are back at Ourimbah and there is a buzz. It is different from last week’s Grand Prix, a more casual, more fluro, baggy and longer travel buzz. This is the second round of the RTE SuperFlow Series we have been able to get to, we missed the Thredbo round a couple of months ago. Not surprisingly the SuperFlow Series has some serious followers, just about all male categories were buoyant with enthusiasts and punters alike.

We joined JetBlack MTB Racing team mates Eric, Troy, Matt and newcomer Brad at the event rego and hub area for our racing plates. There we also met with the Rocky Trail Entertainment crew, Martin and Juliana for the pre-race brief. We had a couple of hours to check out the two race trails before the 11am race kick-off.

It was a cool start for the practice session, we transitioned along the XC trails to warm up the legs. From the bottom of the valley it was couple of hundred vertical meter, fire-trail climb, to the start of the timed sections. This round I teamed up with newcomer Brad and we sessioned the shorter, steeper “Fox” trail first. 

The short, steep trail was a portion of the Ourimbah Downhill track. It was pretty intense and we stopped a number of times to sus out lines. We also had a chat with a couple of Ourimbah regulars, gleaming some invaluable insights for our race runs. Then it was back on the climb to the top to roll the “Fox” trail again, just to make sure we had absorbed as much trail information as possible in a couple of sighting laps.

We managed to squeeze a roll through of the “Stans” trail before 11am. A couple of sections we hadn’t seen before, but much of it was used last week during the Grand Prix event. All good, lets go racing!

First trail to we chose to race on was the longer "Stans" section. Having just rolled this trail and it being significant longer, our fairly fresh legs would stomp the XC styling of this section. I headed out first with Brad chasing, but through the dusty first descent section with adrenaline pumping I pushed to hard, driving into a tree on a tight left-hand corner. Shaken and with signs of some blood after taking much of the hit to the tree via my arm I went to jump on the bike, but the bars were twisted. I quickly re-aligned the bars as I saw Brad crested the hill and begin descending to my position. I had just about lost thirty seconds due to this off, I remounted and whipped the bike with a frenzy of pedal strokes to get me back down the trail.

At the bottom of the "Stans" trail I quickly self diagnosed some pretty good inflammation to my elbow, no joint pain or deep cuts. All good to continue racing, we headed back to the top for a couple more runs of the shorter DH trail, and get timed on the "Fox" section. 

For the first run at “Fox” Brad went first, I quickly counted twenty seconds and chased after him. My idea was to close the gap as much as possible on the mostly flat transition to the singletrack, then hold onto that smaller time gap as I wrestled the hardtail through the rough course.  It seemed to have worked; Brad was just heading down the singletrack as I was coming up to it. In regards to the “Fox” course it was a definite balance of control, because gaining speed no problem, it all pointed downhill. I was glad I replaced the brake pads a few days earlier, keeping the bike on the trail and pointed in the right direction was executed with volumes of braking.

After transiting back to the top to have another go at “Fox”, Brad checks out the online results, I had set initial time of just over three minutes. That result was not to shabby, with Brad sets a time seven just seconds slower. A quick hydrate, a chat with other riders and we were in the mix for another razz down the track. There was a shuffle of riders as we improved the line-up and self-seeding situation, this time Brad was to chase and potentially improve his time. I let the rider in front go just long enough that I knew I would catch them just before the singletrack to ensure free trail for the tech section. It works, I pass the DH rider just seconds before the trail narrowed and I get a clear shot at sprinting down the trail. At the bottom I wait longer than I should have to, but eventually Brad rolls in, seems he had an off mid-course. I set a time almost two seconds faster, pushing me in the sub three minute bracket.

With my young team mate having a crash it was time to make our way back to the event hub for a break, sustenance and refocus. Of course, we still had to do another lap of the longer “Stans” course to post an official time. A transition back to the top again and a good half day of riding is finally catching up with us.

We roll up to the start of the longer trail, this time I didn't need my own crash again but it was important to set a solid time. I rolled away first, diving through the tough loose first section and onto the little climb, boom, there is the first rider I catch, in fact there were three riders all up. I was feeling pretty on fire, pushing the bike as much as I felt reasonable. I launched over the finishing matt and skidded through the mid of the watching bunch on the firetrail. It was good to finish the trail with no major errors and a big smile on my face.

There was time, and energy for one more lap and see as though Brad had made a mess of his last "Fox", I encourage him to finish the day with a smooth run down. We rode to the top again and hit the trails for the last time that day.

All-n-all it was a fun day out. My three times on "Fox" had only a two second deviation, pretty consistent (placing in the top 100/300 riders). And my two runs on the longer "Stans" had a thirty second deviation, which was about what it felt when I crashed on the first of the two runs. The faster of the runs put me in the top 15 riders for the day. This result put me on the top step of the podium for the hardtail class!

Next stop is near Port Macquarie on the Mid North Coast for the Jolly Nose, Round 4 of the SuperFlow Series. Thanks to the JetBlack MTB Racing Team and our sponsors for another fun day out!

JetBlack MTB Racing continues to be partnered with The Odd Spoke, Natural Balance, Rocky Trail Entertainment and AMB. Full results from this SuperFlow round here. Series results so far, here (yes, we are leading the Hardtail Category).

Monday, June 25, 2018

Ourimbah - Grand Prix 4hr Solo

There is no doubting that we love the Ourimbah MTB trails. A quick look back over the last few seasons of Grand Prix’s have seen some favourable results, 3rd 2017, 4th 2016 and 1st 2015. It is the amazing technical sections with their brutal rocks, and the twisted ribbon curves of trails that draw you to ride faster. This is one trail that can hold you in the edge of bar-gripping fear and outright hero-dirt exhilaration!

With a massive break between rounds, I couldn’t wait for the Ourimbah GP weekend to come around. There had been a number of other events on the calendar, a couple of club XC events and a weekend away at Rydal. But when it comes to full froth there is nothing quite like finding your flow at Ourimbah.

We are lucky to have a team of dedicated riders within JetBlack MTB Racing and some of the team had rolled into the forest on Friday, setting up the monster JetBlack pit area. We hummed along the freeway in the early hours of Saturday morning to join the team riders and our support crews for nervous pre-race catch-ups and laughs.

After the rider’s brief we headed down the fire road for the short haul back into singletrack for the race course. As the race got off there was a mid firetrail incident on the hill and due to my poor positioning, I was caught amongst the mid pack riders rolling around on the first lap. 

Looking to pull back some time and bless my bike with endless momentum, I knocked a couple of minutes off lap 2, 3 and 4. It was pure pleasure, allowing our 29” wheels to float clear of obstacles, hearing the swoosh of rubber bitting into dirt as railed heavily into the turns. With this effort I had made it back up to JetBlack MTB Racing team mates, team of 3 7hr of Browny, Elton and Nathan.

It was good knowing I was back into the mix with the teams, but as Nathan passed me on a climb I went to follow and found nothing to back me up. My legs had seen their fun and were now zoning out. Shortly after I made some technical errors and I knew I was in trouble, both my mind and my legs were a fuzz.

The only way out of this hole was to dig it myself and I eased off the gas, hoping I could roll it in on sheer guts. Thankfully I wasn’t the only one having a rollercoaster of a time, while chatting to others out on the course, there were some in deeper holes than I. Then there were high rollers, like Jason English, pulling himself back from a flat on an early lap, chatty as always, and Jon Odams, lapping me during my state of self-imposed recovery, happily holding a wheel then zipping effortlessly away down the trail at the next opportunity. 

Ourimbah’s sweeping trails, with short punchy climbs and fun rough descents still remain a favourite of ours. Rocky, loamy and with un-proportionally long descents, it is mountain biking goodness that we’ll always return to. For this event we managed to hold onto 5th place and snuck a top 20 fastest lap of the day! Whoop!

Next stop Coondoo on the South Coast for Round 3 of the GP Series. Thanks to the JetBlack MTB Racing Team and our sponsors for another fun day out!

JetBlack MTB Racing continues to be partnered with The Odd Spoke, Natural Balance, Rocky Trail Entertainment and AMB. Full results from this round here.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Rydal Interclub 3hr

It was going to be a busy weekend, with a couple of events pack in. But a couple of days of wet weather put a dampener on the CX, of all things, it was cancelled. Thankfully just over the other side of the hill, the Interclub 3hr location of Rydal didn't have the same conditions.

Rydal is just a few minutes from Lithgow and home to a whole bunch of hand-carved trail. The Rydal showground plays the perfect part of transition area, and the CTMBC the host club of this round.

Arriving with our JetBlack MTB Racing team mates, we signed on then ducked out for a reccy lap. For this fun event it was decided a pairs team would be a great change and we met with our team mate for the day in the transition area, Brad.

Brad is making waves at WSMTB XC rounds this year by winning D Grade consecutively. He has some mad on-bike skills and has recently transitioned from the club Junior racing categories. He lead out our team, and the whole race on lap 1 for the sprint to the first corner.

At transition one we were sitting as the second male pair team, rolling through as the 23rd rider. It was my turn to head out on the fun windy trail. Away from the flat show-ground area, the trails lead riders on an exciting journey of almost effortless fun. Transitioning back to Brad we had  made up a number of places and were now sitting within the top 10.

Brad puts in another impressive lap to keep us within touch of our competitors. Then it is another handover, and I race out, pre jumping the first log and runching through the following corner, all off the brakes. Hand-over, hydrate, food, rinse and repeat!

With five minutes left before the gate to the trail would close, Brad flew into view and I was tagged for our last lap. This last lap was a blinder too, with less riders out on trail and the changing trail conditions into a tacky, hero dirt ribbon of bliss.

Thanks to CTMBC for hosting the event, my JetBlack MTB Racing team mates for the travel arrangements and transition setup. Thanks to Brad for pairing up with us, turns out we won the Male Pairs Category!

See you at the next event...

Sunday, April 1, 2018

WSMTB XC Series Round 1 2018

The first round of the Series took us to the familiar setting of Yarramundi, nestled at the base of the Blue Mountains in NSW. Sound recognisable? Well it was almost what I was reading word for word just the other day before our own Round 1 of the WSMTB XC Series. It continued, “the venue, which is now a familiar stop for the New South Welshmen amongst us, hosting its second national round in as many years”. Wait, hold on a minute, Yarramundi is a national series trail in past history?

We were flipping through a 2006 mountain bike magazine last week before our first round and stumbled across Aiden Lefmann’s (of RLC Sport and Cyclinic) words. A classic tale of persistence and adversity, quite easily re-invented for our most recent event. Take out the solid shredder names from yester-year, inset our newest bunch of shredders and you have yourself a race wrap-up.

After racing at WSMTB’s Yarramundi XC trails for over 8 years now, “it was no surprise to find myself lining up for yet another traditional Yarramundi race, this time”, (Lefmann added, with the added prestige of a national round) as round one of the 2018 Series. “A strong showing of competitors from all over…” Sydney ”… lined up for the series opener. With numbers up in all categories, it shows that there is still plenty of depth in the Olympic format style of XC racing”.

“The Yarramundi course treats you to some super fast, but dray and sandy racing, with very few opportunities to get the climbing legs out to play. The course follows several kilometres of fast but also twisty single-track with the odd section of fire road for the passing manoeuvres to take place”.

Lefmann goes on to call out the good depth of talent on the day, Flemming (formerly Clarence St Cyclery), Taberlay (formerly Avanti) and Cooper (formerly Scott/Ritchey), just to name a few. Like wise we could do the same, Gordon, Green, Brame and Dinham. Names, all becoming synonymous with some fast riding at National level.

We get underway, A Grade, and it wasn’t long before our regular front-runners start putting the hurt on anyone near the pointy end. We had managed to pull in behind BigDog and were attempting to hold the furious pace the guys were producing. Through the trees behind us were our team mates, Browny and Troy, it was going to be important to maintain this XC pace, not letting the endurance team specialists get one up on us.

WSMTB regulars Ludenia, Steve and Ian eventually catch me and there is no contest. Who does catch and we tussle for a couple of laps is Jamie Anderson. Eventually Jamie seems to succumb to his own pressure of pace, we gain a placing, dropping Jamie somewhere amongst the trees and holding it to the finish line.

It was a massive first round for all grades and we had seventeen riders registered for A Grade. WSMTB had altered the trail for the round, making it shorter and perhaps a little more fun. Our team mates Browny and Troy held steady to place further down the order.

We can only envisage the duelling pair of Dinham and Brame at the front of the race were having some form of showdown. In Lefmann’s write-up of 2006 it was Cooper V’s Flemming coming out of the single track for the 150m sprint to the line. Lefmann, digging deep in the last few kilometres had held on with Cooper making the attack to reel back Flemming. In a flurry of pedal strokes and a spray of stones, in that last 100m, Lefmann came from behind taking the win. In 2018 Brame takes it at our local clubby level from Dinham.

JetBlack MTB Racing continues to be partnered with The Odd Spoke, Natural Balance, Rocky Trail Entertainment and AMB. Which allows us to ride how we like! You'll see us at another event shortly!
Full results from WSMTB here.