photo by Tim Bardsley-Smith
In January, Mt Buller hosted the 1st round of the 2013 All Mountain Cup. The 3 day stage race format was really designed to showcase the awesome trails at Buller and included an Eliminator, Olympic Cross Country and a Point to Point.
I qualified fastest in the Eliminator time trial, but was knocked out in the 2nd round of finals in what was a pretty physical and rough stage. I wasn’t too disappointed because my time losses were small and I could avoid any further risk and start to rest up for the next day.
The XCO was run on a new & improved course that started and finished in the village and went down Gang Gangs and back up and new single track climb. Chris Jongeward attacked early and Shaun and I were part of a chase group containing Sid Taberlay, Jack Haig, Adrian Jackson. On lap 3, Shaun and I found ourselves together in 3rd and 4th as Jack set off in pursuit of Chris and Sid and AJ faded slightly. Although totally unplanned, it was awesome to have the opportunity to ride side by side with my new team mate in our first race together. We really helped each other out and rode to each of our strengths, but despite the teamwork all we could do was limit our losses to around 2 minutes….still, it was a promising result for this point in my preparation with Shaun 3rd and me 5 seconds behind in 4th.
The XCP sent us out on one big loop to Mt Stirling and the amazing trailed called Stonefly. It was a pretty tough stage for my tired legs. I found myself in isolated in 3rd place, trying to chase Chris and Jack. As I climbed up Stirling I was really looking forward to the swoopy and flowy Stonefly that I had ridden and loved the last 2 years at Mt Buller. Unfortunately, being a year more rutted and overgrown the trail was quite different; far from the smooth and forgiving therapy I was longing for. It was still fun but just no good at all for recovery which made a hard stage even harder. In the end I finished with a smile on my face in 3rd and with a small time gap over Shaun it meant that I moved up to 3rd on the general classification.
All in all it was a great weekend of racing. I’m very happy with where my form was at considering I am still building up from quite a late break in in 2012, and having ridden neck and neck with Shaun in such a supportive and positive way on Saturday has me looking forward to the first marathon races even more. I can’t wait to attack the longer format as part of such a strong duo!