National Series Wrap Up - Jenni King

Echuca1

 

NAT RND 2. Mt Buller

Following my unexpected win in Adelaide, I was a touch more nervous leading into National Round 2 as the pressure was on to retain the leaders jersey. I was lucky enough to only have a 2.5hr drive to this 2nd round in Mt Buller and chose just to drive up the day before racing, ride a few practice laps of the course and then kick back for the arvo along with the rest of my Torq teammates.

The Mt Buller course had a bit of everything, with some fast descending, plenty of switch back climbing and some straight sections of fire-trail and road where high power would be needed.  I was interested to see how I would go keeping up on these power sections as it is something I had been working on in training.

We were lucky enough to have awesome viewing of the course from the balcony of our ski lodge. I was able to cheer on my fellow Torq teammates as well as the many Pedallab riders racing in the earlier categories throughout the morning.  This viewing point happened to be situated right on a nasty climb, therefore giving me a good chance to check out the climbing form of some of those athletes I coach…those hill repeats in training had been worth it guys!

Race time came around soon enough and I took to the start line alongside Olympian and race favorite Bec Henderson.  Bec would certainly be the one to beat and the plan for me was to try and stay with her in the earlier laps while trying not to blow!

It was quite important to go hard from the start, as following the first road climb the course quickly narrowed off into a fast single track descent and from there passing would be quite difficult for a fair portion of the track.  I was able to slip into 2nd wheel just behind Bec and then was able to hold Bec’s wheel all the way to the bottom before starting on the first of 6 ascents up the mountain.  Bec and I had managed to form a small gap back to Tory Thomas on this descent; however Tory quickly climbed her way back up to us and we formed a group of 3 over the top. The race then became quite tactical as there were quite a few open sections of track, where drafting was an advantage.  It was during one of these sections, on lap 2 that Bec made her move while I was on the front.  I was unable to match her acceleration up the road and she quickly formed a gap back to Tory and myself. 

I struggled with energy levels for the next 2 laps as Tory made her way around me and forged on ahead.  After a couple of silly mistakes on the main switch back climb, I pegged it back a bit and just concentrated on keeping smooth and getting the leg cadence back up.  This seemed to do the trick and by lap 5, I once again had Tory in my sights.  With half a lap to go, I had managed to get myself back up to Tory and it was time to think about where best to make my move.  With a tight finishing straight, I thought it best to attack well prior and make sure to be in front around the last corner. This meant I had to really dig deep up the last steep pinch…a climb that was just long enough to cause sufficient burning of the quads! The attack worked and I managed to get over the finish line ahead of Tory, but still a fair way down on young Bec Henderson who had rode very impressively all day to take the win. 

There were many other podium results from Torq team members as well as Pedallab riders, making it a successful weekend and a great indicator of form leading into some of the bigger races to come.

 

NAT RND 3. Echuca

 

The 3rd and final race for the 2014 National Series was held on a slightly different style course in Echuca.  With very little mountainous terrain to work with, the course was a fast one and would require some high power at higher cadences! It was certainly a fun course with small ups and downs along the banks of the Murray River, some sketchy corners as well as a few jumps to break things up. 

As predicted the racing was fast and tight and it was important to once again get a good start in order to be up in the front group.  I had been worried coming into this race, as I am not normally known for my power along the flats. I was however pleasantly surprised, once the race got started, at how comfortable I felt riding in the front bunch of girls. 

Lap 1, was quite a quick one with Bec Henderson on the front pushing the pace.  We formed a group of 6 with a small gap back to a few others.  With the series win at stake, I didn’t want these other riders to catch our pack and so in lap 3 I launched a small attack, mainly in order to keep the pace high.  I surprised myself once again though, to look back and find I had produced a small gap and so pushed on a little harder to see if I could get away.  Peta Mullens rode across to me in one of the open sections of trail, making it a great opportunity to work together and try to extend the gap. 

It was at this crucial point that things became a little pear-shaped as I rode a little too hard into a dip with a rock at the bottom and burped out a whole lot of air from the rear tyre.  Having only started with 20psi, I think the pressure must have dropped to around 10, making cornering a little more difficult. Both Peta and I had been caught by the group once again and as we came through the start/finish area I couldn’t quite decide whether to stop and make a wheel change or ride on and hope that the tyre pressure would hold up for the last half of the race.  In hind-sight I probably should have stopped on that lap as it would have only taken 30sec or so to make the change and ten would have had the whole 2nd half of the race to catch back up.  I didn’t however make the stop (maybe I was in denial), and forged on. 

During the next lap, Bec made an attack and I accelerated to try and stay with her.  By now, my rear tyre pressure was really quite low and I couldn’t maintain the traction around corners to stick with Bec and so had to back off a touch, while Peta made her way around me.  I rode as best I could for the remainder of that lap, and finally got to the tech zone once more to make the much-needed wheel change.  I was very lucky to have the support of Dean and Ed, who changed my wheel and replaced my drink bottle all in the space of 30sec or so…why hadn’t I done this a lap earlier? 

Whilst in the tech zone, completing the wheel change, Tory Thomas had passed by and going into lap 6 of 7, I was sitting in 4th place.  I did the math in my head and if I was to finish in this position I would still take out the series.  I did however, want to finish off as hard as I possibly could and I set about trying to chase Tory down.  As it turned out I finished up 4th, but managed to be within 5sec of Tory at race finish. A result I was quite pleased with given the circumstances. Peta and Bec had an exciting battle in the last lap and Bec only narrowly beat Peta in a sprint to the line.

 

I am stoked to have taken out the Elite Women’s National Series for 2014. I can’t thank my sponsors enough for the support they provide in helping me to achieve my goals. In particular, Gen and Dean Clarke from Torq Nutrition, have supported me from my very early days of racing and have really put their heart into the running of the Torq Team.   Also a huge thanks to Momentum Energy, LifeCare, Sram, Monza Imports, Adidas eyewear, Schwalbe and 4Shaw.

 

It is now time to taper and sharpen the legs up for the National and Oceania Championship in just a couple of weeks’ time.

 

 

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