Friday, June 27, 2014

SCUM XC Round 3 Race Report by Bel Althaus.

Race reporter, Bel Althaus (BMC)
On Sunday the 22 June, SCUM held its 3rd round of XC racing at the flowing Coondoo track. I was keen to race on this track as I had missed on the first round, and therefore had only managed to race the Butterfly trails. I woke up a little indecisive and in two minds about whether I wanted to race due to a disappointing pull out from the GP series Round 3 which was held at Ourimbah the day before.
I had travelled a few hours to the event late Friday afternoon, set up camp and then hit the sack for the night hoping to get a decent rest for what was to be my first 7hr solo experience (and first ever ride at Ourimbah…lesson 1 learnt). I woke the Saturday and decided to head out for a steady practice lap which quickly turned into a long “am I actually going to finish this lap before race starts” adventure. Within the first 1-2km’s the track was testing me mentally, and I was off the bike walking. Not a good start to say the least. I kept going and found myself baulking at much of the trail, stuff that in hindsight I may have usually ridden, and all the while in the back of my mind I was thinking, 7hours of this!! (Let alone 4hrs if I had decided to change category). I made my mind up pretty early on that today wasn’t my day, and decided to pull the pin…after a lot more walking and finally making it to the end of the track. I returned to the event centre, packed up my gear and instead became a photographer for a few hours, taking shots of all the other riders and of fellow friend Michael Crummy who was having a comeback from a few months of little riding competing in the 4hr category. As disappointing as it was to pull out, I was glad to have had the opportunity to check out what is the most technical track I’ve seen, but one that could be extremely fun and rewarding if the heart and mind is in the right place! Maybe I’ll get back there and next time I’ll smash it
A long drive back Saturday afternoon allowed me to think a little and I was keen to get back on the bike, probably in pure revenge for giving up…I had the option to either race a local road race or the local MTB race. Sunday came, a little more thinking and decided it was time to give the MTB a crack again. So a steady ride out to the track, a quick practice and it wasn’t long before the race was starting. The trail crew had done some amazing work cleaning and rebuilding the track after damage from local motorcyclists. This round was also a youth orientated event, which meant the ankle biters had come out in force all to have a go, and it was great to see the many smiling faces waiting in anticipation. The track was shortened for them to a 1.1km circuit.  
We headed to the start area which was about 200metres down the fire road, making it for a uphill start - that always works well. I wasn’t sure if I had any fellow competitors as some of the ladies were hanging back. We kicked off the race along with the elite men (5laps) and expert men (4laps). The race started and I looked back to find I had one competitor that I could see, Liz Smith. She had lagged behind a little, which meant I was able to enter the single track in a good position. She was closing in on me very quickly though, so decisions were made quickly about how to ride the race. She stayed in my sights for ¾ of the first lap and on the long climb out of “rock and roll” I managed to open up a small gap. Heading into the 2nd, I put the pedal down to increase this lead using the small climbs to my advantage and riding my fastest lap for the day. I knew I was in a good position towards the end of this lap and found my rhythm over the final two laps. Little did I know until the end that I actually had a third competitor, Danielle Pollock who had an unfortunate start which meant her first lap was nearly double time. She quickly picked up the pace however for the final 3 laps and her lap times would have had me fighting if she had started with us. I knew what sort of rider she was from a previous race, the Ginja Ninja 250 where she pipped me at the podium by 2 minutes. Today however I managed to hold onto the lead and rode a good race. A nice comeback from a disappointing day earlier. 
Some great trails meant some fast racing for many of the riders. Local rider Jake Whitton took out the Elite men category ahead of Douglas Pollock, with other local rider Mark Astley coming in third. Their times were extremely close, so a race well run. Nicole Fellows again took out first place for the Expert female which means a few wins now for Nicole. In the expert men, David Bell had a clear win from fellow competitors managing to come in ahead of Matt Smith and Dion Carter with a 5.5min lead. Unfortunately there were a few DNF from local riders Liam Dooley and Kane Barrett due to mechanicals. As usual the expert category was a tight field with minimal time between riders. For full results of all the categories, head to where you will also find details about upcoming races and events.
78 riders including the young guns came and shredded the trails, and it was great to see such a diverse mix out on the local trails. Round 4 will be held again at Butterfly on the 20th July, but this is also the Chocolate Foot at Mogo 4 and 7hr race. I will be heading to Mogo for this one, hoping to regain my passion of endurance racing Stay tuned!

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