Many, some, or maybe only three people, will remember my first MTB race victory at the Bendigo 6hr Enduro back in late May. Not only did this race give me a little boost of confidence, a handy $100 and an excuse to eat double portion sizes for the following week, it also gave me a free race entry into the Australian Marathon MTB Championships, that were coincidentally raced in Bendigo on Sunday. Now for those who aren’t aware, 105kms of MTB’ing is almost a 6hr solo time-trial (easily equivalent to the prestigious Melbourne to Warrnambool) which explains why only 14 girls fronted to brave the challenge, including Australian Cross Country and 24hr Champions (gulp). For me personally, had I braved too much after withdrawing from my last Enduro race just 1hour in?
After 10 metres of racing I was 5 metres behind; I couldn’t clip my foot in. By the time we hit the first corner I was near last; I didn’t want to risk it on loose gravel. And just half an hour into the race I had dismounted three times; to walk of course. At 8kms in, Jo Wall actually dismounted beside me, but for a very different reason, she had broken her pedal and was out of the race. I secretly hoped this would happen to me so as to avoid myself the embarrassment, but the race went on. Tory Thomas forged ahead early through a private swamp land, and after 1hour of racing Jenni King and I were 2 minutes in arrears. After 2hours, I caught sight of Tory on a sealed road and pulled my finger out for 20minutes to regain contact. For the next 3 hours we would remain within 15 seconds of each other, I would miss a feed and go 2hrs without water, and Tory would do everything she could to escape me on the technical sections.
The beauty of MTB’ing for the leader, is that the chaser doesn’t often see more than 5 seconds in front of them. Sometimes I thought I was chasing a massive gap, then we would hit a straight stretch and she would be in view so I would chase harder. But most of the time, out of sight was out of mind. So over the last 10kms while I was physically in ruins, I gave up and accepted my second place podium, not knowing Tory was merely 30 seconds up the track. As I rode my final berms I heard the commentator announce Tory the victor, and I was grateful for the fact because it meant I was almost home. So even though I lost the Australian Championships by just two minutes after 5.5hours of racing, and despite eyeing off Tory’s cheque for twice the amount of mine on the podium ($2000), even discounting the fact that I’m both mentally and physically drained and am consequently suffering the flu, I am happy. For the first time in my life I was able to lose, and still be happy.
So in contrast to my regular speech where I would usually thank the AIS and the VIS etc. I instead thanked Moroni’s bikes for their support, where more specifically I should mention Pete for loaning me a MTB and everything else associated with it, and Mark, who is slowly becoming somewhat of a manger to me! I thanked the participants, as opposed to the competitors because it’s those who do it for the love of it that help to create a truly unique atmosphere. And of course I thanked the volunteer marshals, many who gave up the opportunity to compete so the race would run smoothly…and that it did! I did however forget to thank Jarrod; for getting me on a MTB in the first place, MYER; for giving me a source of income and another challenge in my life, and my parents; who already know that I appreciate their support over the years but maybe don’t hear me say it often enough =)
Women's Race highlights can be viewed here.
Men's Race highlights can be viewed here.
And results here and here.
And photos plus more photos and even more photos!
Photo 1 courtesy of Akuna Photography
Photo 2 courtesy of Russ Baker
Photo 3 courtesy of Leeanne Mullens