From the Mud-fest trails of South East Tasmania to the dust of Country Victoria

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2013 HELLFIRE CUP

Unfortunately for Duncan Giblin and the organizing crew, this year’s Inaugural running of the Hellfire Cup was characterized by rain, mud and some more mud. Tasmanian weather is unpredictable at the best of times, but in November the South East corner of Tasmania can be particularly vulnerable to rain.  It was ironic that the event had been postponed originally due to bush fires only to have flooding as the eventual disrupting factor!

The racing still took place and as invariably racing is, it was fast and hard! Unfortunately my original partner for this race, Rowena Fry, had been troubled by illness and was unable to take to the start line.  This did however mean, that I got the chance to line up in the hotly contested mixed pair’s category, alongside a talented young Tasmanian Stephen Mathews.  Stevo and I ended up having huge amounts of fun riding alongside each other over the 4 days.  To his credit, Stephen managed to match it with many of the top guys and assisted me with pacing and also gave a few handy pushes here and thereJ The highlight for me was when we were able to match it on day 3, with the eventual winners Peta Mullens and jarod Maroni.  Stevo had huge amounts of character and his antics were a crowd pleaser when he chose to strip down to just knicks for the final sprint stage.  He still managed to ride me off his wheel as he wheelie’d his way around the course! 

On my way to the start line; the hell brew may have kept us a little warmer!

(pic’s courtesy of Naomi Williams)

 

 

 

TORQ TRAINING CAMP

Torq Australia owners, Dean and Gen, had managed to gather all team riders for this 4-day training camp.  It wasn’t so much of a training week as it was a chance to come together as a team and get to know one another. 

With many of the team either lining up for the Tour of Bright or the Forrest festival the following weekend; the plan was to complete a couple of lower intensity rides. Having ridden with team boss, Dean Clark, on numerous occasions, I know that ‘recovery’ is generally not a training zone he sticks to very often and therefore I was well prepped for a bit of a smash-fest.  Maybe for the likes of Jack Haig and Mark Tupalski, heart-rates were kept to a minimum; but I know mine edged above threshold on more than one occasionJ It didn’t help much to have Tristan Ward in my ear with his words of encouragement…yes Wardy I did keep up with ’the boys’.

We enjoyed quite a scenic ride around Bunyip State Forest.  I felt like a true professional, when a team support vehicle met us at the halfway point with some extra Torq nutrition to refill out bottles and back pockets.  I could get used to this treatment! 

The following day, included a ‘hot lap’ around Lysterfeild where we got to try out our new tyre brand Schwalbe. The Racing Ralph tyres seemed to work well on the Lysti surface with a great combination of grip and speed.  My main aim was to make sure I smashed Ed, which I did, and so got to go home happyJ  Mr Benjamin Forbes took out fastest lap of the day; watch out for his name in years to come!  It was great to have Hayden Kerr from Monza come out and provide some helpful hints on using and maintaining our Sram XX1 group sets and RockShox forks. 

Our day out at Lysti was followed by a team BBQ.  Mr Sram himself, Rob Eva, made an appearance, as did many of the ‘original’ Torq clan; Luke Fetch, Steele Von Hoff and Robbie Hucker.  These guys are certainly making a name for themselves on the road and I’m sure they very much appreciate the help they received early on in their career when racing on the Torq team.

It was great for me to finally get to know many of the interstate riders and those I hadn’t really met before.  While I am not the oldest on the team (Sorry Fenz, you win this prize), I may be 2nd in line, and will be looking to offer as much advice as I can to this talented bunch over the coming Season!

2013 FORREST FESTIVAL

This event is a ‘must do’ for those keen mtbikers who want some seriously fast racing, but within a ‘chilled-out’ atmosphere. Norm and Jess Douglas put together a fantastic event each year.  The 5 stages that fit into the weekend, run like clock-work and involve riding some of the best trails in Forrest.

Ed and I have used this race for the last couple of years, as an excuse to skip some little-known road tour up in Bright and instead get the camping gear out and head west of Melbourne for some fun on the trails!  With the event format being just the 2 days and with options to camp, this race works out to be a cheap, no-fuss weekend away. 

This year’s event had attracted the hottest field to date, with the likes of Renata Bucher (Swiss Xterra superstar), Inter-state riders Anna Beck and Terry Rhodes, current CX National Champ Lisa Jacobs and several road racing power-houses who can also ride on dirt!  It was also great to see some of the old names come out of retirement for the race.

As expected, the racing was fast from the get-go and was certainly a shock to the system.  I had quite good legs for the first mini cross country stage.  I did however have a minor hiccup with a dropped chain and lost some time on Renata, but managed to re-gather and claim 2nd spot. The hill climb was next. Man this stage hurts!  I was happy to see I bettered my last years’ time, even if only by 10sec and finished up 4th in the stage, not losing too much time. Then it was straight into my favorite stage, the descent!  For a descent this stage seemingly had a lot of ups, but overall it was mighty enjoyable to pedal down the infamous single-track of ‘Red Carpet’. I gave it my all on this stage and was stoked to come out with the win!

As always Ed kept my bike running smooth

Late Saturday arvo, we all rolled down to the Northern side of Forrest and lined up alongside our assigned partner for the sprint-style pairs race.  This was a timed ride of around 15-20min where you could either work with your partner or just try to smash each other.  As Renata and I were currently sitting 1st and 2nd on GC, we started together.  I’m not sure if my reflexes are quite that of Renata’s; before I knew it she had 10m on me!  I slowly reeled her in on the single track section that descended slightly.  We had to be careful not to veer off-course as those spikey plants do not provide soft landing! In the end Renata beat me by 10sec and we both managed to gain time on 3rd and 4th GC riders. 

All could be lost in final stage.  With a 50km loop; this stage really made up the bulk of total race time and it was important to be ready for a hard one!  Although the longest and hardest stage of the weekend, this is also my favorite as it takes in most of the best trails in the region.  There are short sections of fire-trail; however most of the track includes all different sections of single-trail.  My plan was to try and stick with Renata early on and see if I could get away later in the race. This plan very quickly went out the window as we made our way up the first climb.  My legs weren’t feeling too crash hot and I decided instead, to keep to a maintainable pace.  So, I got myself into a rhythm and concentrated on the trail ahead.  

I was surprised to have made up ground and by the hallway mark found myself riding with Renata.  Not long after this point, Renata was forced to stop to untangle a large branch that had wedged itself b/w wheel and frame.  I was a little undecided on the correct etiquette, but petty quickly put the brakes on to offer a hand (not that I was much use anyway!) It was lovely of Renata to bring this up later on at presentations and if anything confirmed my thoughts of why I like this sport so much.  So, Renata went on to beat me once again, this time by around 1min; however I was mighty pleased to finish up 2nd place in the stage and also 2nd for the overall event.

 2013 DUAEL

It was great to finish off 2013 with my favorite format race; pairs enduro. Bruce Dickey had put in the hard-yards over these last few months to put together the 2013 Duael event.  This year’s race took place in Castlemaine, where there is a fantastic network of trails. Going by post-race comments and reports, the event was certainly a real hit and I’m sure many will return next year. 

Bruce’s aim this year was to really push the mixed pair’s category and he had definitely succeeded in pulling some of Australia’s best riders.  Young Liam Jeffries and I were representing the Torq team. We knew the racing would be close with many potential race winners. 

At the halfway point Liam and I were very close to race leaders Peta Mullens and Jarod Maroni.  We did however both fade a little in the latter half of the race and had to be content with 2nd place.  I was extremely proud of the way Liam rode throughout.  I tend to forget that he is so young and to be mixing it with the guys 10-20 years his senior in this enduro format, really is an achievement!  I was pleased to find that my form is not too far off the pace and look forward to building on the form into the New Year!

I want to say a MASSIVE thank you to my sponsors throughout 2013. I’m very much looking forward working with you all through 2014.

Torq Australia

Momentum Energy

SRAM

Monza Imports

Adidas Eyewear

LifeCare

4Shaw

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