Monday, April 17, 2017

Riddles of Rydal

Drifting at pace through the slalom trees.
It had been ages, a really long time, since drinks at Rydal. Our last visit to the trails just west of Lithgow was back in 2011 and 2012 with Fi, Joe and the Chocolate Foot crew (Gumby included). My wrap-up of the trails read  "With almost all of it being the twisty, on-camber, but mostly off-camber, flowing, but with plenty of tighter corners, SINGLETRACK. It all wrapped up on a fairly flat ridge-line and made the most of the land available". And not to much has changed!

The JetBlack MTB racing crew were all in attendance, we had a good measure of 4hr and 7hr riders, both in teams and solo. A mass of shades, chairs and tables, our bikes littering the grass, and looking down through the transition area it was pretty similar for everyone else. A good number of riders turning up for this round, maybe not as many as Round 1 at Glenrock but still plenty of competition.

Pinchy rises.
After a mild start at Glenrock, there was plenty of room for improvement and with a short open section before the endless singletrack, it was more crucial than ever at Rydal. A flurry of cleat-clipping and some mud we were into the narrow trails. It didn't go as planned for everyone, the self-seeding and XC style sprint start, saw some spills.

Happy with the start, the pace was manageable through the trees. It wasn't long and a few neat passing manoeuvres later and I found myself on the rear wheel of master-pedal-turner, Garry James. We were making good time and it was pretty smooth sailing wheel-sitting, getting use to the trail again particularly the newer and newest sections.

Pop-it or drop it.
A couple of laps with Garry and I found myself on the front and with a bit of breathing room, room for speed! Must admit Rydal did suit us, we have local trails that are just as twisty, tight and turny. Smooth fast cornering and connecting those corners was key for us, riding with some of the pairs teams it was easy to sense the over-braking and hard acceleration on the out of the corners they were doing.

Back in the race there were a couple of nice flying laps, lap three being our fastest before it all settled down to mid twenty five minute laps, at about 20kph. While keep up with the four-hour pairs was fun we were also keeping an eye on our team-mates. In this instance, at Rydal, they weren't inchingly close and just in front of us, this time they were just behind. Yes it felt good to be running with the teams as a solo, even if they were team-mates, riding the seven hour and in a team of three.

No troubling trolls.
A surprise find on the trail was BigDog, aboard his do-it-all long-travel bike. Super easy to follow, we had a good chat and then lost contact winding amongst the trees after a fast transition. From there it was a matter of holding on to as much smoothness as possible, fatigue was setting in, edges were getting dull.

Smashing a couple more gels and we were into the last hour, several quick in-head calculations and we would be heading out for a final lap with minutes to spare. Our team-mates, team of three, Elton, Browny and Shad were hot on our tail and Elton had just closed the gap on the final climb, second last lap. Elton handed over to Browny, who went down the transition like a startled gazelle. But, little by little the gap between us reduced, till we had made it onto Browny's rear wheel. Some chess moves later and we are on that final climb, Browny punches it out of that last pinch and sprints up the firetrail. There is a moment when all plans were to go with Browny, sprint those last final hundred meters, our quads had other plans.

A good day walking away with something to put on the fridge.
It was great to race back at Rydal and get a solid result in the second round of the Grand Prix Series. Thanks to our supporters and partners JetBlack MTB Racing with The Odd Spoke, Natural Balance and Rocky Trail Entertainment. Our new Ascent Cycling Enterprises custom built wheels and Mitas tyres continue to handled everything with ease and helped us remain fast throughout.