The 2014 National Mountain Bike Series commenced on Friday 17th January in Adelaide kicking off proceedings with the XC Eliminator. A fast, action packed course that included a punchy climb and a fun descent down the 4X Track made for an interesting seeding time trial and some even more interesting racing. I rode some good heats but was only able to make it through to the 5-8 ride off rather than the main final in Elite Men. A few little mistakes were costly in my final and I rolled through for 8th place but was not too worried and was more focused on Saturday’s XCO race where it was going to be a hotly contested field full of riders whose form was an unknown this early in the season.
I had a good start and was first up the climb with majority of the field still holding my wheel at this point. Three quarters of the way through the lap however it was down to just myself and Mitch Greenway who were the lead of the race with Liam Jefferies (Torq) chasing hard to try and close the gap between himself, Mitch and I. The gap held the same for three or four laps where Mitch and I swapped the lead multiple times trying to figure out our game plans while still maintaining a high pace.
The course set out by the Adelaide Mountain Bike Club was different to previous years racing and encapsulated a wide variety of terrain which really kept the race interesting and allowed enough areas for passing, attacking and also recovery. The course used around 70% of previous year’s courses with some variations in the descent and also the top undulating section but the biggest difference was the brand new Sunset Boulevard descent which now offered fresh line options all of differing technicality and speed.
Feeling good coming into the final lap I was still riding along with Mitch who was setting a good pace on the front with Liam Jefferies fading behind us, who was eventually over taken by Michael Potter who took 3rd place. I made a small mistake half way through the lap and had to close a few extra bike lengths back to Mitch who was still leading the way. Coming into the second to last descent we caught a lapped rider on a fast downhill fire road section where we were approaching a sweeping left hand bend that consists of only one racing line. Mitch went past the lapped rider comfortably and as I called two riders and made my move around the rider, who was off the racing line, he unfortunately drifted onto the racing line where I was then forced into the loose stuff where I had no grip and had a front wheel washout. Mitch rode really well to maintain the thirty second gap that he held at the line taking the win with myself crossing in second place.
I’m happy with how I rode in the first race of the season and I look forward to Round 2 at Mt Buller on 8th February. Thank you to Target Trek MTB, Pete Dowse, Trek, Target, Shimano, Fox, Finish Line Lubes, GU, Aussie Butt Cream, Adidas Eyewear, 4Shaw, and all the volunteers.