Sunday, 24 November 2013


When we woke up at camp today the mood was quiet and somber for the final day of the Hellfire Cup. Those that hadn't already moved to hotels early in the week had made tracks last night to avoid being bogged this morning. Even the event centre and volunteers had moved on to today's new site 5k down the road at the Bream Creek Show-grounds. Although on higher ground, the misty cloud that had shadowed us all week seemed to be in tow, but what was lacking was mud, dammit :( The course was a series of bunted switchbacks down a sloped hill, through a barn and up to the Avanti Plus finish line.

The course was to be raced in reverse order of the general classification with your partner, and times were taken on the second rider across the line. Times were to be added to the overall, and with a good lead now it was near impossible for us to lose. Instead we were racing for something a little more exciting; money. Duncan had put forward $600, $300, $100 for the mixed podium on behalf of his company which made the 1minute effort worth racing.

You could've been mistaken that many were actually racing their own partner to the finish as men with ego's left the girls behind, or that it was a competition for the 'best drift'. Car horns, bells and cheering made the miserable day pass quickly until it was our turn for a run. In short, I had a shocker! The eliminator style racing is not my thing at the best of times so I was glad to finish in 2nd, just 0.6 behind young guns Tristan Ward/ Emily Parkes. Mel Ansett / Ben Rendall completed the podium. I'm yet to see stage results but can confirm that the overall was unchanged. 

Final General Classification
1st   Peta Mullens / Jarrod Moroni
2nd  Renata Buchar / Jarad Kohlar
3rd   Jenni King / Stephen Matthews
4th   Jenny Fay / Michael Crosbie
5th   Jacqui Slack / Ben Allen

After the novelty cheques were handed out we sped to the carwash, washed the mud from our camper, flew back to Melbourne and are now driving the final stretch home to Bendigo. As always I would like to thank my team Target Trek MTB racing for their ongoing support; especially Pete Dowse for on-site mechanics, jacket holding and official photographer. Also my amazing Trek Superfly for being faultless through the week and getting through the mudfest. And I never thank him enough, but my partner Jarrod Moroni for pushing me, nurturing me, driving, mechanics, babysitting, entertainment and putting up with my emotional antics for this week..oh and the rest of our four years together!

So before I wrap it up I'd like to use this space to give Duncan and the boys a clap, clap for a job well done. Firstly they dealt with fires followed by floods, and the fact that the event went ahead at all is a miracle. The volunteers set up site at four different locations including tents, music, electrics etc. and it's clear that the team spirit and passion is there for this event to be a future success. But as with any event in their first year there is always going to be criticism, and I'm a 'tell it as it is' sort of girl.

The Cup received an amazing amount of exposure and drew a world class crowd thanks to a prize pool of $40K+, including $15K for the first placed team! I was very lucky to take home $3.3K of that. But it's safe to say that expectations were high and despite the unfortunate weather, what was delivered was closer to a well-run multi-day pairs club race. 

The bush showers were a work in progress, unfortunately set-up late and eventually running out of water. Torq took the initiative to siphon the water out of their camper so that the team could have a wipe down. Then after relocation of the campsite there was no longer power to charge phones etc. There was however.. wifi :) Once again Torq led the way with Andrew Christie Johnson purchasing a generator to power the team site. There was no designated bike wash bar a nearby creek, and very limited mechanical assistance on-site. But perhaps the biggest concern was the lack of electronic timing and/or transponders, a must-have for both safety and reliable timing.

First year events are usually reserved as a test-run for locals and the occasional inter-stater, but the Cup went above and beyond this and unfortunately struggled to cater for it's 300 participants. I do believe that this event has immense potential, and the format and location will thrive with better infrastructure and weather conditions. In fact I would go as far to say this could eclipse events like the Cape to Cape due to the laid-back single-track nature of the race, but this year far from proved that to people. So while Duncan goes away and sorts out these buckles, find yourself a partner, and know that the wheel will spin true again for the 2014 Hellfire Cup!

Saturday, 23 November 2013


After overnight rain and morning drizzle it was hard to be motivated for the 9km 'cruise' to the now 14km mass start stage. The transit wasn't without havoc with someone suffering a broken collarbone and the lead van getting bogged before being pushed to safety by Trekky and Vandy. My thoughts are that a 'cruise' stage is designed for one purpose, to get riders to some awesome trails that can't be I was devastated to find that we had ridden 9k of fire-trail, to race 14k of fire trail, and 'cruise' another 7k back to race headquarters..argh! It was a half hour wait before the race started on a narrow road with self-seeding of riders-it was carnage when we hit the first mud corner!

I was well positioned and went out hard, but as we climbed Bucher stormed by with Kohlar in chase, and Fay was powering along, propelled by the ever strong hand of Crosbie. I was suffering on the climbs and was eventually caught by the combinations of Moller/ de Groot and King/ Matthews and relied on Jarrod to keep me in touch with them thanks to a few pushes. The fire-trail was wet and mud flicked in the eye until I could see only blurs of colour, and as I descended blindly behind Jarrod I overshot a quick corner and found myself in the bush..crash #1..

It was a hard but short chase back to the bunch and not long after..crash #2..when de Groot fell into partner Moller on a climb! After a bit of recovery on the wheel, Jarrod put the power down and we rode away in the last few kms to save a third place on the stage. Fay and Crosbie took their first stage win, while Bucher and Kohlar claimed some time back on us for the overall. We guessed our way back to base on the return 'cruise' in miserable conditions to find that the afternoon stage has once again been cancelled.

1st- Fay / Crosbie          33.55min
2nd- Bucher / Kohlar    + 37
3rd- Mullens / Moroni   + 1.23
4th- King / Matthews    + 1.29
5th- Moller / de Groot   + 2.05

General Classification after Stage 3
1st- Mullens / Moroni     3.45.51
2nd- Bucher / Kohlar    + 2.39
3rd- King / Matthews    + 9.13
4th- Fay / Crosbie         + 9.58
5th- Slack / Allen          + 13.35

Racing aside, my enthusiasm is on a downward spiral for the Hellfire Cup. There is only so much motivation I can have in rain stricken fire-road races, and I think I nearly used the end of it today. Please Duncan, give me some more single-track!


I would like to thank the weatherman for being ridiculously bad at his job today! The forecast 150mls of rain turned out to be a morning drizzle followed by stunning sunshine. But the damage had already been done to the altered course and the 20k circuit was now consisted of 17k of fire-trail, 3k single-track. The first 10k was dry uphill fire-road, while the descent took us into dense bush land that was still very wet, extremely muddy and soo much fun!

The relay format gave us an opportunity to play out some race tactics and try to extend our 41 second lead. So we decided that I would go first in an attempt to pace off the men, and hit the descent before it got too ‘chopped up’.  We were the only mixed pair to do so which would made it a risky chase from behind for Jarrod.

I raced hard from the gun, seeking a wheel that was just above my comfort zone to really push my limits on the climbs. I was constantly chasing wheels and changing groups and on a few occasions sprinted to the top of the hill as if it were the finish line! When the ascending finally ended I knew I could just enjoy the muddy downhill slopes and let loose!

When I transitioned with Jarrod the race was looking interesting:
Michael Crosbie to Jenny Fay      46.10min
Tristan Ward to Emily Parkes      + 2.42
Ben Allen to Jacqui Slack            + 3.21
Stephen Matthews to Jenni King  + 3.22
Jarad Kohlar to Renata Bucher     + 5.39
Peta Mullens to Jarrod Moroni      + 7.05

So now it was time for me to sit there, fret, and be nervous for 50mins until they came around for the finish. Our goal for the day was to extend our lead over Bucher/Kohlar, but a stage win never goes unwelcomed. I was confident Jarrod would catch Bucher, so my focus turned to the stage and the only team threatening that was the combination of Crosbie/Fay, on a course that suited them down to a tee. From all reports the course was manic on the second lap and the mud sliding uncontrollable! Lucky for us, Fay and mud don’t get along all that well, and Jarrod much prefers drifting as opposed to pedaling; so the pass was made on the final part of the descent and we took the to win in 1:45:14.

2nd - Fay / Crosbie      + 1.21
3rd – Bucher / Kohlar  + 2.44
4th – King / Matthews  + 3.16
5th – Slack / Allen        + 4.54

General Classification after Stage 2
1st – Mullens / Moroni     3.10.33
2nd – Bucher / Kohlar      + 3.25
3rd – King / Matthews     + 9.52
4th – Fay / Crosbie           + 10.36 
5th – Slack / Allen           + 11.36  

Tomorrow they have altered the stages yet again. The morning 14km Time Trial has become a mass start race, and the 3pm QOM/KOM is now a team relay, with the night stage relay now cancelled. Fingers crossed for a little more sunshine...

Friday, 22 November 2013


As always, it's exciting to see a new race on the calendar. The Cup is a new stage race based out of the scenic rural town of Kellevie, where 'pairs' team up or 'lone wolves' go solo, riding out into the Tassie forests and stunning coastline to complete seven stages across four days. The event centre is quite remote, down rough farmland trails beside a river, with camping encouraged thanks to on-site lunch and dinner included in your entry fee. In short, the AvantiPlus Hellfire Cup is all about the bike, the trails, the mateship, the bush, the party and the local community.

But in February? this year, when the event was initially planned to run, the bush surrounding these beloved trails was sent into turmoil when struck by fires. The event was subsequently cancelled and a years worth of work simply gone. Although shattered by these turn of events, Cup organiser Duncan Giblin and his team went straight back to work, re-building trails and holding fundraisers to bring the event back to its expected glory and the event was rescheduled to November.

So here we are, in a boggy hilltop paddock, with no showers and limited power, after the race headquarters partially flooded due to massive downpours of rain and was forced to relocate to higher ground. The atmosphere is grim as we prepare to race Day 2, on an altered course with a delayed start time. A 40km relay, with each team member completing one lap of the 20km circuit, predominantly fire-road to allow access for emergency services if needed. 

For Jarrod and I, we lead the mixed category after yesterday's stage. It was a 26km dash through the bush with some awesome mud-ridden single track and descents, broken up by some tough fire-road climbing. Despite losing 10seconds on a wrong turn, and me face planting in the mud on the second to last corner, we took the stage out by 41sec over the adventure pairing of Renata Bucher and Jarad Kohlar. It was a close fought race until we hit some sloppy mud and Renata ran off the Usain Bolt! But we pegged them back on the single track mid-race and made a break for it on the wicked descent to take the win in 1:25:19.

2nd - Renata Bucher / Jarad Kohlar  +0.41min
3rd - Jacqui Slack / Ben Allen  +5.42min
4th - Jenni King / Steven Matthews  +6.36min
5th - Myra Moller / Daniel de Groot  +7.14min
6th - Jenny Fay / Michael Crosbie  +10.15min
7th - Mel Ansett / Ben Rendall  +11.07min
8th - Emily Parkes / Tristan Ward  +19.55min
9th - Juliet Plumb / Scott Wilson-Haffenden  +23.01min
10th - Sharon Heap / Les Heap  +23.15min

The afternoon relay stage on Day 1 was cancelled due to the torrential rain and relocation of the campsite, so we spent the time cleaning bikes, kit and refreshing 'BOM' for weather updates. At this moment in time it's NOT raining! Lets pray to god for Duncan's sake that it stays that way :)

Tuesday, 5 November 2013


After a week full of hype, media and plenty of ‘Wiggle’ jokes in my first week as a professional, it was nice to escape with Jarrod to my favourite Aussie holiday destination…Noosa! It was also my first chance to meet up with fellow Wiggles Emily Collins, Lauren Kitchen and team owner Rochelle Gilmore. We all know that pinning a number on in November means different things for different people, and with the girls having come off a European season, Noosa is usually more about beach time and less about pedaling. Regardless, we had a line up on paper that saw three prior champions and a New Zealander united as a force to be reckoned with.

Even Peter Sagan was no match for the Wiggles - kidnapped on the beach!
Our team meeting was a little vague with so many unknowns, so discussions were based around the numbers game of Specialized; 7 riders, vs OGE; 3 riders; vs Wiggle Honda; 4 riders and how we thought the main threats would play the game. We figured that OGE would attempt a break, and that Specialized had cards to play with a break, but were more likely to win the race from a bunch sprint with Kimberley Wells. The nature of the hotdog circuit at this time of year (with such variations in competitors form) lends itself to a break, which has been proven over the last four years. So our theory was to cover the moves, seize any opportunities in a breakaway, and try to leave race favourite Wells behind in the peloton.

Loren Rowney (Specialized) was active all day (Mark Gunter)
The call up to the line was unique. It started with the return to racing for dual Commonwealth Games gold medalist Megan Dunn (Specialized), followed by defending champion Kitchen. Then four National Championships hit the line; Road Race Gracie Elvin (OGE), Time Trial Shara Gillow (OGE), Criterium Champ Wells and MTB Champ me! But when the gun sounded it was Amy Bradley (Specialized) who attacked off the line. It was nullified early, as were most moves throughout the race. NRS winner Katrin Garfoot (QAS) was the first notable break on a solo mission, before Emily Roper (Suzuki Bontrager) tried her luck off the front.

Marked again by the Specialized girls.. (Mark Gunter)
The intermediate sprint was taken out by Louise Kerr (Bike Bug) as the nerves built around the prospect of a break that nobody wanted to miss. Groups of six to eight would roll off the front, with Collins and Kitchen always present, but they were too big and the combination never seemed right. As we were given three to go the race seemed to die, as if everybody was poised for a sprint until Elvin attacked at two to go. The bunch hesitated so I took up the chase, and attacked over the bridge when the timing felt right. Kate Finnegan (Specialized) and Garfoot set chase, but only Garfoot made contact. Then there were two… I led the sprint out but could only manage second behind the in-form Garfoot. Wells had left the peloton behind to claim third.

Podium L-R: Mullens, Garfoot, Wells (Mark Gunter)
My fitness was better than expected, but the transfer back to the tarmac and a new bike in the Colnago C59 had me a little uncomfortable for most of the race; possibly needs some tweeking in position. Although I would have loved to have won my first race as a professional, I was glad to finish on the podium, be back-pain free and have my reputation at Noosa unscathed; three podiums from three starts! A swig of ‘champas’ turned into a great night of celebrations that have me looking forward to the season ahead.

Soaking the new 'dhb' Wiggle clothing! (veloshotz)
Thanks to Wiggle for making it possible for us to support the domestic season, and to ‘dhb’ for kitting me out in orange for the race! Another flawless weekend by MultiSportTri events meant that I could partake in the celebrity breakfast and Legends Tri to complete my mini holiday. So as quickly as I turned to road, I now turn back to the dirt for the Bundanoon Dash and Highland Fling this weekend in New South Wales. It is yet another iconic event on the calendar, and although my form is not quite deserving of a victory, I look forward to putting the kms in the bank for when it counts in 2014!
Cheers to Wiggle... here's to 2014!!!

Results: Noosa GP
Press Release: Wiggle Honda