19 Aug 2019

Tasman Nankervis Reef to Reef 2019 Race Report

Racing at Reef to Reef was a last-minute decision, one I am very glad I made. When I say last-minute, I mean flights and entry booked Monday of race week, with a late change in Uni placement timetables allowing me the opportunity to attend. This left me with no time to rope in a partner and was I pretty content to race solo, treating the event as form finding/race preparation. It was also a good excuse to get out of the miserable Bendigo weather. Speaking of Bendigo, we had a large contingent of club members racing and they were nice enough to let me bunker down with them for the race week and enjoy the good times.

Stage 1 – Smithfield 18km
One word to start with and that is, ‘HOT’! It was a shock to the system and I was glad the first day was the shortest of them all. The stage took in trails of the Smithfield area, which held great memories for me as two years ago it played host to the MTB World Championships. Most of the trails on the stage I knew and was kind of glad they skipped some of the particularly difficult sections aka the notorious, ‘Jacobs ladder’. I managed to get the win in Open men and pop on the Reef to Reef yellow jersey.
Stage 2 - Davies Creek 51km
A stage which had me felling like I was on the set of Crocodile Dun Dee, with dry dusty trails and water crossings, it was both awesome and deceptively hard. The climbs were quite steep and due to the remoteness, the planned elevation of 600m turning out to be more like 1000m, which left a few broken bodies at the finish line. The creek crossings were contradicting, good for the body in cooling down but I soon learnt to carry the bike out of the water, with chain lube feeling non-existent after a creek drowning. After starting 5mins behind the elite pairs, I broke away early from my solo compatriots and was surprised passing all teams except one finishing second on the line, retaining and putting time into the solo overall.
Stage 3 – Mt Malloy 70km
Stage 3 is the queen stage of the event and the fastest. It included lots of fire road weaving through vast open cane fields into thick luscious rainforest, the day was a scenic, ‘box of chocolates’.  My now the 5min gap between myself and the elite pairs was starting to gather some banter and I was super eager to catch my pals up front, committing to a one-man TT.  After passing through sticky mud bogs, pristine creeks, thick jungle, and a few prickly vines I managed to catch all but two teams and finished with a good lead in the solos.
Stage 4 – Mt Malloy to Port Douglass 50km
The final stage was a dash down from the mountain ranges of Mt Malloy to the beach of Port Douglas. I had made my own category or goal for this stage and that was to win the race overall as I was only 13 seconds down on the Elite pairs of John Odams and Brendan Johnston. This stage was the highlight for me with a par core including a 10min decent off the Mt Malloy range to the coast. The race then finishes along 4mile beach in Port Douglas, a pretty special experience, unique to Far North Queensland. Again, I started 5 minutes behind and time trailed my hardest, catching all bar the top team. After checking the results, I was stoked to find I’d taken time on the top team and had won the overall line honours by 20secs. The overall win wasn’t a competition but going for it and winning was good for a bit of banter, especially with how tightknit the Elite MTB community is.
Stage 5 – Hemmingway Brewery – Pizza and Beers   
Four-day Stats
Race Kilometres – 190km
Total TSS – 640
TSB – (-37)
Ave HR – 159bmp
Max HR – 183bpm
Max Temp – 34deg

Photo Credits: Flow MTB and TBS Photography