Jess Douglas

Australian MTB Nationals - Stromlo

29 January 2008

It is now Monday the 28th of January, and only 7 days ago did I decide to enter online at 8:30pm(online entries closed at 9pm) to race the XC event at the Nationals in the Elite Women category.

The race has now been won and lost and many miles have been driven for the 2 hour event!  I had an awesome time and met some great people and of course got to meet with a new level of pain within my mind and body.

 

Firstly, on Friday night, Norm and I did the Dirt Crits at the Western Plantation Track at the You Yangs.  I have been enjoying these short sharp painfully fun races, so did not want to miss out for the sake of a National XC race...this is all just training for me.

Consequently, I was all fired up on Friday night and slept...well, not much.  Maybe about 2 hours all up.  we were up at 5:00am the next morning to get ready and start the drive to Canberra.  The drive up was hard for me as a passenger, as I had a really thick head from lack of sleep and had to try and get some extra rest over the 8 hour drive.  Thank you Norm for getting us there safely.

 

 

We arrived at Stromlo with both my hard tail(Scott Scale 10) and duallie(Scott Spark 30). Out we went for lap one on the Hard tail. Yuk...I did not have a good time and I dont know whether it was the bike, the travel, the lack of sleep or just that I forgot to take my skirt off, but I had a bad ride. We got back to the car and swapped bikes over. This time went out on the duallie and life was sweet. I could nail everything technical and rode easily 50% better this lap. Within 5 minutes I had made my choice that Mr.Spark was my main man tomorrow.

Over the course of the next hour of so whilst hanging around and chatting with others, I heard horror stories of numerous punctures and invisible rocks. I felt confident with the duallie that I would not encounter these problems. We were running Stans no tubes coversion kit with UST Crossmark tyres on non tubeless rims and decided to run 30 psi, a little harder than normal.

Later on that afternoon we headed off to our accomodation and had dinner in the room. I was asleep by 9pm and had the best and most restfull sleep in a long time!

We arrived at the course around 9am and I ran into many people.  Katrin Van der Speigel, Kelly Bartlett, Jo Wall, Kat O'Shae, Jaci Lowe...and even Oenone Wood!  Had a great stress free time chatting with everyone and soon enough it was ready to stop with the nice talk and get down to business. 

My name was 2nd last to be called out to the start grid out of the 30 girls and I had a nice little position down the back! 

I am sure I am not alone...but I hate the starts, I would much rather just be racing and then I can just get into my little zone sooner than later.  Gee it was hard to get a decent position for the first 5 minutes with the fire road only being about  6 foot wide across and dust everywhere. 

  I knew the first lap would be tough so my pain and suffering was no surprise, just annoying.  When we got to the first technical section with the tough loose and very steep uphill there was "hike a bike" with not much choice to do anything else other than get off and walk.  This is no doubt where the front runners got a good lead on the rest of the group.  Especially Dellys, who by the end of the first lap had 1:40 on the next rider.

Mental note: must get fitter and faster to avoid these little "issues" that cost positions in the race.

By now, I was realising that I must be patient and not get caught up in the frenzy and just ride my bike in the manner I know how to.  Ride my race, not someone elses.  So it was to be the uphill grind that saw me mostly gain positions on the rest of the field. Mistakes were made and feet were unclipped.  This was painful to have to be so patient in the tight twisty uphill climb, not to sit so close to another riders wheel in case of error and to be able to attack quickly when the error occurred. 

Now even though the climb was tough, it was not without its rewards.  The opposing downhill was worth all the pain and suffering in the world and by the time you were back to the start again the mind and body was refreshed and willing to tackle the climb all over again.  It was actually the last 5 or so minutes of the course that was most rewarding with bermed flowing open single track that begged to be pumped for all it was worth.  Glad to be riding the duallie now as I invested continuously in my roller coaster ride.

   

By the end of the third lap I was finally warming up and happy to be out racing, wishing that I had maybe 2 more laps instead of one.  I was hammering the uphill now and left the few riders that had been only seconds behind and increased the lead to minutes.  I must admit I took some of the downhill sections a little slower in my final lap, not wanting to get too cocky and have a fall.  When I saw the 3kms to go sign, the joy and jubilation that I felt.  Wow, I just raced in a National XC titles race!  ...and did not come last!  I came 19th out of 30 starters.  Not bad for an enduro racer with 2 years under her belt and just about to turn 35.  Maybe I can do better????...next time!

   

Check out http://www.mtba.asn.au/ and / or http://mtbnationals.com.au/  and / or http://www.cyclingnews.com/   for more information and results 

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Jess has not only first hand experience in coaching, but is a qualified fitness coach & cycling coach. She is a 3x Australian and 3x World Mountain bike champion and loves helping people be the best they can be.

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