29 Apr. 2019

Tasman: Oceania’s and Nationals Recap

The Nationals and Oceania races are where all (or most of) the elite field put all they’re eggs in one basket to be ranked who is the best in Australia. I cannot say these races are the most enjoyable, however I am far too competitive not to put myself to the test and it’s the one weekend of the year you may see a race face on me. Proper XCO racing is like F1, there is not a lot of room for error and if you make a mistake you are done. It also categorises quickly the riders who have put in the best preparation, and nobody wants their pants getting pulled down in public.

 

The week started off with the most relaxed event, the team relay and I was competing in one of two Bendigo Club Teams. It was a chance to cut a hot lap on course before the big dance on the weekend. The course was unusual for an XCO race, it was 6km long and at least 4.5km was on a pancake flat river bed trail. The pine forest single track was unreal, but the rest of the course was not typical for XCO and overall very disappointing. Our Bendigo Club Team was strong, and we finished 4th. I was proud of this result and with a large Bendigo contingent at the event it set us up for what was a big week ahead.

 

Skipping to Nationals race day, all systems were go and it was time to deliver. Gun went, and I had a good start sliding into 4th in the single track. At this point I though great, just get into a rhythm and you’ll be on a good one… this however didn’t happen. I never got comfortable, whether that be physically myself or with the course. I was riding the pine single track section well but was continuously losing time on the flat stuff. I kept losing positions and ended up placing 9th. I was initially disappointed I am not going to lie, not because of the result but because of the way I rode. I’ve been in the sport a while now and it’s not the first time these performances have happen, nor will it be the last. It is just how the sport works, and if everyone could only have good days then winning wouldn’t be half as rewarding as it is.

 

Moving forward, hanging out in Bright for the few days between Nationals and Oceania’s was a treat. All that was required was chilling with my MTB pals, shredding trails, recovering and a little Uni work.

 

The Oceania course was basically much the same except one longer fire road climb, which was more favourable to me. After not getting called up to the line, my start only got worse slipping a gear from the gun and entering the first single track dead last. Oddly I didn’t find myself panicking and quickly decided that I’d be taking the long game approach if I was going to get any result today. Compared to Nationals I felt in control and just picked riders off one by one at my own pace, crossing the line in 7th. It was an improvement and I was satisfied that I could as least show my strengths. Would you believe my brother Russell ended up one spot behind in both events just tailing! You can take it to the best riders in Australia, but the biggest danger man in the race ends up being your brother haha.

 

Straight from this, I was home for a day before flying to Brisbane to race the National Road Series event, the Brisbane Classic. The 120km race started at 6am and went through a fully closed off Brisbane CBD. Racing through the city was wild, riding through tunnels and down highways was an experience I won’t forget. It was a strange mix of fearing for your life but also loving it at the same time. In the end I finished unscathed and in the top 20.

 

My next racing events are the local Bendigo Epic, the Port to Port MTB Stage race and Grafton to Inverell.

Thanks for catching up!

Tasman

 

Photos: Matt Rousu