Sarah Tucknott - PembertonIt is pretty exciting to have national rounds held in your home state, but to have some of your best races at those rounds is twice as exciting. As dad was the race director I went down to Pemberton (a 3.5 hour drive from Perth) on the Monday before the race, meaning I had the opportunity to prepare well for the races.

Round 2 – Saturday 24th

I was super excited, but also really nervous for the second round of the Subaru National Mountain Bike Series. The course was a combination of steep switchback climbs, off camber descents, fire road uphills and the notorious wooden wall rides… so a real mountain biker’s course. I was excited because the course suited me and I found it really fun, although I was nervous at the same time because I felt like the home races added more pressure into the equation. I once again raced up into the u19 category and was determined to redeem myself from my somewhat disappointing race at the You Yangs.

On the start line I had my plan, I was going to smash it out with the elites for the start loop, but then once we headed into the main course settle into a rhythm. I was aiming for consistent lap times; even negative splits. When the gun went off and we were underway I found myself right amongst the elites on the start loop. This start loop consisted of a 500m long fire road and a section of downhill singletrack which was so dusty you could barely see 5m in front of you, but just as planned, once we hit the steep switchbacks of the main course, I had settled into a rhythm. I was riding with 3 other girls for the first three laps, two of them being elite women and one under 17. I am not used to racing in a group on the mountain bike, therefore I found myself getting extremely frustrated, we were going much slower in the singletrack than I would have liked, but once we were at the fire roads it would be a full pelt sprint.  I got to the point where I was getting desperate to pass on the singletrack because I knew if I wanted to stick to my plan passing on the fire roads would have been impossible.

This lead to taking risky moves that ended up throwing me into the bush or completely off line. This played a massive mental game as well, the frustration in the singletrack and on the downhill’s was driving me into a state where I started to mess up. I dropped two gels and missed a bottle at the feed station, I learnt I had to relax a little bit. My race was 4 laps in length, 2 laps shorter than the elites but one lap longer than the under 17’s. On my fourth and final lap I couldn’t take it anymore, I ASKED to pass the elite girl that was holding me up, but got shut down so hard that when we hit the long fire road in the middle of the course I was so worked up I attacked with all my might. I absolutely pegged it up that fire road and then down the descent, my last lap ended up being my fastest and I put a major gap into the woman who was holding me up.

What I realised at the end of the race was that being held up actually did me a lot of good. Even though I wasn’t going my ideal pace through the singletrack and on the descents, I learnt how to deal with frustration that could well have pushed me over the edge (literally). Also, it allowed me to have a very consistent race and ultimately win the u19 womens category. This race was another major learning curve, but also produced some really good results and lap times.

ST Trek picRound 3 – Sunday 25th

I didn’t have as close of a battle with Megan Williams this weekend, as I did at You Yangs, but I had really close battles with some of the elites, which was pretty cool. Sundays course was more of a power course, it had a gradual winding uphill and a flowing downhill, finishing off with a European style, off camber section of trail known as black and blue. I wanted to produce another consistent race, although was determined to not let other riders ruin my race or hold me up. This meant racing more aggressively than yesterday. I was pumped on the start line, once again quite nervous, but I couldn’t wait to get on the trails and have a good smash session.

I really enjoyed this race, I was going hard the whole race but was still at a level where I could produce consistent lap times. I did have a bit of a shoulder-to-shoulder moment with the same elite woman that was holding me up yesterday, but I can consider it experience for when I want to go overseas and race world cups. The race seemed to be over really fast, after ramping up the intensity each lap, I quickly found myself on my last lap. I was really pushing the limits on the last lap, crashing twice in soft powdered sections. I got to the finish line absolutely exhausted. Exhaustion is one of the greatest feelings in the world because it means you have pushed yourself to the limit… it is one of my favourite feelings. I was pretty stoked to hear that on both days, I was among the fastest women on the descents.

This was possibly the best national round I have been to; you could see how much everyone was enjoying the racing, the town and the trails! Big shout out to everyone who made this event possible especially my parents for countless hours of dedication. Also a major thank you to everyone at Trek, every time I spend time with the team I feel like I am becoming more and more part of the “Trek family”. Thanks to Pete, Rich and Jess for always supporting me, no matter what my results are and to Jenni King for all of her dedication to helping me become a better athlete. I can’t wait to do it all again in two weeks time in Canberra!