I did very little to make that happen during Friday's eliminator. We started with a hot-lap for seeding purposes, and despite what felt like a shocking run, I finished second behind Jaclyn Schapel. My confidence then soared sky-high, so when I missed the final completely I went and had a sook and tried to re-group before the small 5th-8th final. An early crash took out my back wheel and three spokes! I was so angry and worked up that I unprofessionally went home, cried in the shower and just let my emotions rip. It took me a good few hours to come down and realise that the pressure was starting to get to me.
I stayed up late, until 11pm in-fact, as conversation with the boys was the only thing keeping my mind off racing. When I did sleep, it was interrupted and I woke up still nervous as hell. I did a somewhat short warm-up; a few sprints into the first bit of single track and talked out my race tactics with boyfriend/coach/psychiatrist/mechanic etc in Jarrod. He had drilled me over the last 24hrs that I HAD to be first into that single-track. So the gun went, I just eased into the first 300m, then as the hill got steeper I kicked off the front and put a surprisingly big gap into the girls before we hit the dirt.
I cruised down the descent; I had nothing to gain and I needed this time to calm my nerves and pick my line. I then led the climb back to the fire-road to find just three of us remained. Swiss rider Nathalie Schneitter and fellow Target TREK team-mate Jenni King came through and did their part as we rode through transition. Once again, my race plan was the same; first into the single track. I attacked up the hill again, led the first half of the descent before Nathalie took over and moments later Jenni punctured. She, like most of us, had opted not to carry a tube which meant her day and subsequent series was sadly over.
It was tough to re-focus after that. As elated as I was about my XC victory, the race favourite had punctured and I would have to prove myself all over again. I knew Jenni would be fresh after just two laps yesterday, so I would have to dig deep to beat her. Same race tactic; first into the single track, then a little spurt up the back climb before the fast descent down to feed. I then let Jenni past to take the reigns for a while, before we swapped roles again on the climb. We were well out of sight by this point so I resumed my cautious ways again down Stonefly before riding through transition together.
I knew the closing stages of the course would suit Jenni's style of riding so I decided I had to make a race of it on the uphill switchbacks to try and break her. I got my gap and consolidated from then on to take a 1minute victory over Jenni and a further 3minutes back to Tory Thomas. So I head into Rnd 2 at Thredbo in three weeks as a very proud series leader. I can't possibly defend the lead for the entire series as I miss Rnd 3 in Bright, but I'll try my hardest up to that point. Fellow TargetTREK riders Ben Bradley (U19 Men) and Holly Harris (U19 Womens) also claimed the series leaders jerseys.
Thanks go to my coach Mark Fenner for what has been an amazing start to the year, and to Rich Peil, who is giving me many reasons to get excited about coming announcements in the next few weeks. So stay tuned!
Media: Watch the XC highlights here at Cycling Central TV
Enduro: Team Launch article
SBS: Team Launch article
Flow MTB: Team Launch article
Results: All Mountain Cup Rnd 1, Mount Buller