Orange's Kinross trails, home of the legendary Ginja Ninja, host to numerous XCO and endurance events over the years. It's blissful winding climbs and joyful bermed descents, were laced together with some XCO-bar-biting pinches and white-knuckle off-camber loose downhills for this the first of the Rocky Trail Entertainment Grand Prix.
It hadn't taken much arm-twisting but we had a posse from Tamworth arrive late Friday after my JetBlack MTB Racing team mates had setup a prime transition position within the event centre.
After a distraught melancholy of overnight moos for those who camped at Kinross, race morning finally arrived, and it was a comfortable and mild. A caravan of cars with bikes attached started arriving and plenty of pre-race rituals were underway. The event centre went from ghost-town to down-town as the RedBull truck arrived and 3x3 shades rose from Kinross's reddish dirt.
As the countdown started, we lined up close to the front as to benefit from the short run into the single-track. It was a cracking start and while the pace was on, it felt good on legs that had seen plenty of kms over the Christmas break. Sitting behind Tamworth local and frother Justin Roberts, our pace solid over the first three laps.
With a 2019 endurance result not to be scoffed at, we followed a pairs-team from Inverell for as long as we could. These young guys were blasting around the track and had sneaked slowly up on us, Justin couldn't take the pace, dropping off somewhere mid-forest. A couple of laps was all we could handle but this had brought us onto the wheel of a local, who was more of a match to our 4hr endurance pace.
Settled back into a sustainable pace we were caught by the leading 4hr, then eventually the leading 7hr riders. Jon Odams had the lead on Ben Fillingham as he flew by us, but a tyre issue saw Ben take the lead and complete the 4hrs first. Mick Sherwood was on a very good rolling pace when rolling with us, when we paused at transition to take on more water, Mick was up the hill and gone. Mick went on to win the 7hr.
Little did we know there was in-category rivalry as a quiet Matt Clutterham rolled behind us, returning to Grand Prix racing after a few years hiatus. Again we paused at transition to sort out our gear for the final laps and Matt slipped up the trail to take 2nd by a mere minute.
An awesome day on the trails of Kinross and a timely reminder of what cool trails we have on offer around our regional towns. Can't wait to race the next event, we'll see you there!
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Full results here.