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 stormboyphotos.com 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!