Thursday, January 12, 2017

National XCO Series Round 1 & 2

Photo: Iona Reynolds
Orange hosted the opening rounds of the MTBA 2017 XCO National Series over the weekend, with all participants facing hot, dry and dusty conditions at Kinross State Forest. The first time National Series hosts put together a couple of short and steep loops, reminiscent of old classic XC loops for both days.

With a number of local Sydney based riders attending, given the chance to race Kinross again and catch up with riders from other areas, we sealed our trip to Orange with the race fees. It was busy at Kinross when we arrived, the Juniors and older Masters were finishing their round 1 race. Rego was a breeze and we were able to watch the start of the Elite Woman.

There were a number of big names in mountain biking in attendance, across many of the categories and riders had come from almost all states to represent. Did that mean that all racing was fast and furious? Thankfully no, there was some breadth albeit just a handful.

Photo: Iona Reynolds
With any XCO racing it was super fast paced, probably something we could work on after all these years of endurance racing. Those who could punch up the climbs had the time wins, but the trails featured numerous great descents plus a number of rough blown-out ones, putting smiles on dials.

A sprint to the first section of singletrack initially sorted the groups out, particularly on Sunday when there were some already heavy legs. Flowing trail took us up to the large rock climb and from there the trail differed for the each round. Saturdays round included the longish quarts-climb, previously used in a Ginja Ninja (2015?). From there we connected up to some firetrail before the epically good North Shore trail back to transition.

On Saturday our pace wasn't super fast and over the four laps we managed to pull a few riders back from our grouping. The older categories were hot on our heel though and the fastest of them caught us and in a couple of cases, just powered away.

Photo: Russ Baker
Sunday's route took us up a few climbs that felt like we had never seen them on previous visits, after turning right at the rock climb we continued to climb for what seemed like forever, some gradual but most of it steep or pinchy. This trail was only completed three times for our category, where as Saturdays was four.

We had a good weekend in Orange and were pretty pleased with our first outing at National XCO level. Bec Henderson and Anna Bec won the womans elite rounds consecutively and Dan McConnell made it all look pretty easy in the elite mens.

They were long hot days in the sun and dust so a big shout-out to our JetBlack MTB Racing team mates and our support crews. See you all at the next event!

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