Sunday, July 7, 2019

SuperFlow at Awaba - Round 3

We were excited to take another step in our on-bike return to racing. After six hours of racing two weeks ago at Glenrock and Armidale, it seemed our shoulder was holding up ok. Thankfully most of the issues were with our lack of cycling endurance, our legs were very tired. On the upside all the BodyBalance and standing-strength work we had been doing over the last few months were paying dividends and keeping us in the game.

The SuperFlow event at Awaba was the next event on the calendar and after all the fun we had last year, was not one to be missed. SuperFlow is like Downhill racing but pitched on Cross-Country trails. That isn't to say there is nothing crazy, there can be a number of technical features, and A and B lines. When your whipped into a peddling frenzy of air-horns, fat-tyres and fluro, you feel like a Downhill adrenaline junkie.

We were joined by Tamworth local Nathan for this massive day which would include the four hour trip down the New England Highway. As much riding as we could pack into the day's events. And finally the four hour trip back up the New England, keeping our eyes peeled for any kangaroos in the twilight.

Rocky Trail selected a great series of trails for us to ride this round, knocking off some of the flat and pedally bits and dropping in some more vertical challenges. From sweeping open dust-bowl corners to tight loamy switchback there was plenty to keep everyone on their toes. It was pretty cool to bounce in and out of the top five times for most of the day as everyone dialled in the lines. In the end after numerous fire trail climb repeats, a go at riding the bike SS and some rear brake issues, we were happy to say we had left our best efforts out on the trail.

We placed 7th in Veterans with a 7:39sec, and
Nathan placed 7th in U19s with a 8:04.

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Friday, June 28, 2019

NIXCS Series UNE Armidale Round

As if four hours on the bike wasn't enough of a wake-up call, that was the Rocky Trail Grand Prix at Glenrock. We booked a seat in a ute (thanks Marty) and paid a race entry fee to see if a double dose of racing was what out legs needed.

A cool windy dry New England day greeted us when we arrived and there was a chance to catch up with our NIAS MTB Program athletes, Tamworth MTB riders and reecy some of the course while the kids were out doing a short race.

NEMTB had marked a course that was no where near as technical or hilly as the National Cup Round we raced early in the year. But it still had a number of tech challenges and plenty of open ground to cover at race pace.

They young-guns got us started off the front and we worked our way around the first lap. We took it not to easy but straight away it was evident there was massive fatigue from yesterday's 4hrs and 1500m Vert.

UNE trail is a short fun trail with a variety of features and riding conditions. It is based on a hard-pack dirt with very little loose sections. It's openness offers a choice of lines through many of the features and the trail pays back, like so many do, when you connect it all with rhythm and flow.

We had a short duel with one rider as my descending gained me ground but his climbing brough him back. In the end the wind knocked me around and I couldn't pull enough power to stay with him across the open ground.

Local Tamworth riders Mark and Marty (of ute fame) where behind us and we managed to hold Mark's wheel for most of the remaining laps. Marty didn't quite make any ground on Mark and I but was keeping close.

Mick Sherwood went on to place 1st for Elite, a good half lap in front of us after he rode in the eight hour race the previous day too. We placed 2nd in this round and look forward to more of these NIXCS events.

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Friday, June 21, 2019

Rocky Trail GP Glenrock - Round 3

Ever since Glenrock was introduced as a round of the GP Series it has been a standout event and better still it has been a solid three months plus since we broke our clavicle. It was time to ride.

Our aim for Glenrock was to take it easy, slowly testing the body, seeing what might hurt. After a nice warm-up ride up the hill from Merewether we had time to catch up with some of our 40 odd JetBlack MTB Racing team-mates, our extended MTB family and sign-in at race registration.

We gathered at the back of the start bunch determined not to fuss with any first lap madness. The usual fun of the conga-line was had as we caterpillared our way around the chosen route.

Half way round the lap we bombed down a firetrail and instantly found ourselves at the bottom of the valley. From experience there is only one way we take back to the top, Snakes and Ladders, a singletrack grind back up most of the ascent.

It didn’t take long for us to get distracted though. A guy on a massive +20kg big-travel bike tried to zip past me with his dropper post down but he topped out at 25kph…. Oh, damn, an e-bike. Haha, this one isn’t getting away.

I stuck with the e-bike for a lap, wasn’t too hard on the single track and firetrails initially. The trail was busy with riders, which also was to my advantage. As soon as it opened up on a climb though, the 250W of seemingly endless power got away from me. 

What was nice this round was to ride with so many different people. Not racing meant we were riding at a pace to on-trail socialize and enjoy the scenery a little more. 

After a couple of hours on-bike the legs were starting to say this was their longest ride in months and at 3hrs we hit the limit.  Our legs cracked and all power was gone, a quick mental calculation and there was still three laps still to go, if that.

We ended up doing just on the 4hrs of riding for our first big race back. The shoulder feels pretty good, no issues there and it was nice to put our legs through some serious testing. Our legs are toasted.

An 8thplace in our Category is just a start. Looking forward to some SuperFlow and more GPs soon.

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Sunday, May 26, 2019

Tamworth MTB Winter Rides Launch

TAMMTB launched their winter series for 2019 with a cryptic Facebook post. It included tyres, a baton and an egg, what was TAMMTB doing at 3pm for their Sunday Session?

Photo: CrummyMTB
Almost thirty riders were paired, before the all was revealed, this Sunday Session was to be a Relay Race, with an egg as the baton.

Photo: CrummyMTB
To add a little twist a short relatively simple 10min lap was chosen, it was a short, fast, and competitive. The rider pairing wasn't random, faster riders were paired with the less fast riders.

We were paired with MTB newbie Chris. This was his second ride on his MTB and he carried the egg, in is hand, for almost half the lap. The other half the lap the egg was slipped into his sock.

Chris and I didn't win, but we managed to be in the running by keeping our egg safe for the whole race. What a cracker of a way to kick off the winter series of event with an inclusive fun relay style event, well done TAMMTB!


Friday, March 15, 2019

Mitas X-Road CX Tyres

We have been rolling around on Mitas mountain bike tyres over the last couple of years. Their Scylla XC tyre has been the choice of many XC racers, we found the fast square blocks providing predicable performance and a low rolling resistance. The Scylla fitted neatly our need for a marathon/XC tyre. When we wanted something with a little more grip for our front tyre with Gravity Enduro in mind, we stepped up to the Mitas’s Kratos. The Kratos is a surprisingly fast rolling tyre but with wide aggressive knobs for plenty of grip, the Kratos have track us through the wildest trails thrown at us.

Mitas Kratos
This brings us to our latest review and not necessarily a change of pace either, the Mitas X-Road. You might think it blasphemy mentioning anything road related, but the X-Road is part of Mitas’s CX range. It comes with similar features of their top mountain bike treads; Tubeless Supra 127tpi casing and CRX race compound rubber.

Our first introduction to Tubeless CX tyres
We have been using CX tyres for a number of years both for CX racing and our on-road riding. CX tyres give us a super light but grippy tyre, one that spins up quickly on just about all surfaces. Given a few extra pumps of air, the CX tyres improved our average speed through lowered our rolling resistance and their light-weight was noticed on the climbs, particularly over our previous choices of commuting/training tyre (PRs in Strava, woohoo!).

Endless dirt roads over summer
With a current trend to include more dirt-based adventure rides, and a physical move to a more a hostile riding environment we were more than excited to wrap the Mitas X-Road around our wheels. Planned rides included plenty of dirt roads and fire-trails, some trail exploring of our new location, bunch rides with the roadies and maybe even a race.

Close-up of the almost familiar tread patten
The X-Road tyre tread reminds us of a fairly traditional XC mountain bike tyre pattern. The center blocks are small and closely spaced, providing a fast tread for road and dirt conditions. As your roll over to the edge the tread opens up and gets slightly more bold, this gives grip for cornering and loose situations no matter dry or wet. The tyres are suitably light too; we weighed them in at 350g, for their 33C casing. With a standard splash of sealant the tyres quickly inflated and held firm. The wheels were then placed on our test rig, a steel framed hard-tail mountain bike.

70kms offroad for Buffalo Gelato 
Out on the road the X-Road sat pretty comfortably between a smooth tread and a light XC tyre, giving off just a slight hum as the closely spaced tread rolled across the bitumen. While the tyres are stamped for pressures up to 85psi, we only nudged them to 60psi due to the mountain bike rims they were shoeing. We found that 60psi gave us the suppleness needed for the rough country roads we were testing on, but still kept us fast enough for a bunch.

The dirt roads and fire-trails is where the X-Road excels, the tread pattern offered plenty of grip and rolled effortlessly over the mixture of terrain. For these multi-hour adventures we dropped the pressure down a tad and found the tyres responded well, we were thinking less about being careful where we were riding and were able to enjoy the ride more. We then set about with some all-out exploration, finding running trails and sheep tracks, with plenty of rocks and cacti. It was a blast to bomb downhill on a narrow trail into the unknown, finding the our limits amongst the loose shale. Exploring our new backyard, lookouts, tracks and scenery. To be fair we did hike-a-bike back out of a few sections, but that was more about the gearing choice than anything else.

Local XC race on the X-Roads, guess who won Elites?
It has been summer and CX racing isn’t in full swing, so instead we took our X-Road tyres to a XC race. The local clubby event was only 45 minutes long and the trails included some rough rock-garden features. Even still, the club called it their “Fast and Furious” loop, smooth is fast yeah? Tyres were set at 40 and 45psi , front and rear respectively. These were tough testing conditions, a dry and dusty trail that mixed hard-pack, sandy dust, loose-over-hard and rocks. When pushed the tyres provided predictable drift especially as it moved to sandy conditions. They were also durable enough to allow for multiple close calls between the rocks and rims, with some “yes-I-did-feel-that” moments. We did have to slow down a little to pick our way more neatly through the rock-garden, but with such light tyres we accelerated out of corners faster and held a higher speed on the straights. In our experience the X-Road would be highly suitable for any Australian CX course.

Toowoomba MTB Club trails
Finally we toured some of the Northern NSW and South East QLD mountain bike trails. Sometimes doing a roadie bunch ride, then rolling straight into some mountain biking after. We did find the limits of the X-Road amongst the rocks and Black Diamond trails, however, aggressive XC trails aren’t what the X-Road are built for. The X-Road are neatly placed as a CX tyre, and rightly so. We did love the super-light tubeless features, we fear not catheads and cactus of our new hostile riding environment. And there’s still a bucket load of tread remaining, attesting to their quality and durability after 4 months of solid summer riding. We are looking forward to more adventures in the coming months on our X-Roads.