Thursday, November 2, 2017

2017 National Cycling Carnival - Part 1

An early morning commute from Sydney had me arrive for the Opening address and Safety Brief at the velodrome. There was quite a bit happening, people arriving, bikes in and out of the velodrome and the offer of MTB setup/maintenance tips by members. The local velodrome experts were actively fitting bikes, albeit SS, brakeless, ultra-narrow type bikes and there was also amass of bunting featured both within the velodrome and out, looking like a tidy CX course.

I managed to get out on a track bike but didn’t spend too long on it, yes it felt weirdly narrow and never got “on-top” of the gearing provided.

More importantly after a solid year of CX racing I was keen to look over the technical aspects of the days course at “The Bundahdome”. Having never visited this location previously, I was surprised at the steepness of the marked course on the outside of the velodrome, this technical aspect of the course would be a clincher for many competitors. The off-camber slopes had me drop both front and rear 35mm tyre pressure a couple of psi to find more of the grip I was wanting.

Photo: N. Burton
Unsure of how the week was going to roll, I elected to race age group rather than open/elite for CX. Sus out the competition, have a bit of fun on the first day. Jamie Burton was back again this year, and Ty Domin was present, it was us three that headed onto the course in front of the remainder of the age-groupers, once the young-guns and elites had started. The course had a variety of sweeping corners, the usual CX style, a couple of barriers and a run up the flattest section of the velodrome before turning right and making way along the top of the velodrome. Some off-camber and short pinches later we headed around to the steep outside section of the velodrome. It got pretty interesting here, with switchbacks and well-off-camber traverses across the steep and loose course.

Early on in the event I came through a sweeping off-camber grassed corner and the bike fell-out from beneath me, picking myself up off the grass slightly startled I remounted having only dropped a couple of places. On the next couple of corners I figured out what the problem was, a lack of air in the front tyre, the bike was oversteering generally and washing-out when pushed. This lack of air issue would only make this CX event more challenging.

Jamie working hard to keep up. Photo: N. Burton
A couple of laps later we dropped Ty, after all he did have the wrong gear for 90% of the time, not that we had the right gear either. Jamie and I were duelling throughout the course, quite often swapping the lead. On the final lap just before the second last fast section I dropped a chain and had to dismount to rectify the issue. Fighting hard through the tough off-camber traverses, past lines of the DH heckling crew who seemed to be in full support of skinny wheels doing amazing things on dirt, I pushed a last ditch effort to make time back to Jamie, my front wheel battling me all the way.

Jamie and I didn’t quite make up time to the front runner in the elite/young guns category but we had our first contest for this year’s NCC. Both of us winning our respective age categories, with Jamie pipping me by seconds for line honours.
The hecklers, cowbells and horns, for atmosphere. Photo: N. Burton
What has been great over the previous NCC is the availability of skills coaches or serious riders will to show/demo techniques for all to gain from. This year was a step-up from previous that I have attended with the addition of locals Dylan Cooper and Claire Whiteman for the XC crowd. Fastline Bikadamy was on hand for the Gravity/DH crowd again this year. I participated in both a Gravity and a XC skills session, first with MTBA National DH Junior Coach Indi Boer of Fastline Bikadamy, then in the afternoon with Trek rider Dylan Cooper of Ride Technics. I find as an experienced rider there is still plenty to take away from any skill session, and for me it wasn’t till the following day the lightbulb clicked on to what I had just experienced and gained from both sessions.
Stunt rider Indi Boer, Photo: CrummMTB

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