2014 NATIONAL MTB CHAMPS - Jenni King

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I’m not sure if it’s a sign of my age, but this year’s National Mountain Bike Champs seemed to come around very quickly.  It only seems like yesterday that we were lining up on the start line out at Stromlo in Canberra.  This year’s champs were held in the picturesque location of Bright in Victoria’s high country.  With the surrounding mountains, a massive network of awesome trails and of course a fine selection of coffee shops, Bright really is the perfect holiday destination for any bike rider.Torq team boss, Dean, had done a fine job in selecting our accommodation for the weekend.  The farm out towards Harrietville had it all, with a choice of the river or dam to cool off in, plenty of animals to keep us company and even a bunch of ‘farm bikes’ to keep those younger team riders amused.  I think staying out on the farm really allowed us to chill out and took our minds off the stress of racing.Ed and I drove up to Bight early Thursday morning in order to get to the course in time for a few quick practice laps prior to the team relay.  Unfortunately we were unable to get together a Torq team for this relay event as we lacked a veteran age group rider. Apart from me, all other team members are 23years and under…man to be so young again! After practice I had come to the conclusion that the Bright XCO course would be a taxing one!  With so many steep pinches it would certainly pay to pace a little. I just did 2 practice laps to get a feel for it without causing too much fatigue, and then went for a quick dip in the river before heading back to the farm to kick back and relax.

 

The Torq young guns were up first with Liam Jeffries and Josh Battye racing in the U17’s category.  Josh is in his first year of racing and mainly just there to gain experience for next year.  Nonetheless he rode his way to 17th place in a strong U17’s field.  Liam on the other hand is a bit of a veteran on the race circuit, even if he is just 15yrs old!  I was quite nervous for Liam as I know he had a lot of expectations on this race.  I also knew though that he had been putting in the hard yards as he regularly attends the Pedallab torture sessions I run.  To his credit, Liam took on the pressure like a true champion and blitzed the U17 field apart to take home the National Title.  I was super proud of his efforts!

 

 Saturday morning came around soon enough and it was time for us girls to perform.  From team Torq we had young Ellie Wale racing in the U19’s, Em Parkes racing the U23’s and I was to line up in the elite women’s category.  I can definitely say that I was mighty nervous lining up; however I knew the nerves would be a good thing in getting me out to a fast start!  As it turned out I didn’t have the best of starts and headed up the first single track climb in 5th wheel.  I managed to sneak past Row Fry to get into 4th wheel just before heading up the main climb. This climb consisted of many steep pinches with a few twisty descents to break things up.  I tried to get past Tory Thomas on a number of occasions throughout the climb, however there wasn’t quite the open space I needed to successfully make the pass and unfortunately I was forced to descend behind Tory; therefore losing some time on Peta Mullens and Bec Henderson who were ahead.  By the bottom of the descent I had lost 26 seconds to these lead 2 and I would need to put in the hard yards to get back on their wheel.

 

For the next 2 laps I pushed quite hard. Bec however, was riding a cracking pace out front and was pushing the gap out more with each lap.  I was lapping in very similar times to Peta Mullens during these middle few laps, however I was not able to gain any time back on her. At the start of the 3rd lap I made a crucial error in dropping my bottle and therefore was forced to ride a lap without fluid.  I think this caught up with me in the latter half of the race as I wasn’t able to pick up the pace at all to bring it home.  I did however, have a clear gap back to Tory, Row Fry and Jodie Willet who were having a close battle for that 4th position. The last lap was a painful one as it was all I could do to turn the pedals over without cramping.  It shows that a lap without nutrition is a big no-no in this sport! 

 

I am very happy with my 3rd place in this year’s National Champs.  The race didn’t go perfectly to plan, but then it is very hard for everything to go 100%. I guess that’s what makes this sport so challenging and keeps me coming back for more!

Both Ellie Wale and Em Parkes had raced very well themselves to both get 2nd place; Ellie in the U19’s and Em in the U23’s category. 

Following our race it was time for the boys to perform.  Mark Tupalski was the sole Torq rider in the elite men’s field and we had Jack Haig, Ben Forbes, Chris Hamilton, Tristan Ward and Tasman Nankervis all racing in the U23’s. I was a little concerned to see Mark back around 15th wheel following the hectic start.  However Mark rode characteristically consistent throughout and one by one passed all but 2 of the guys out font.  I was rapt to see him bring home a bronze medal in such a strong field!

 

 

I was stoked to see Mark Tupalski take home bronze in the elite men’s category

All of the guys in the U23’s put in a great race.  Tristan was the only one of us who suffered a mechanical with a broken chain.  Luckily, team mechanic Ed was ready in the feed zone, impressively replaced the chain within 45seconds and sent Tristan on his way.  Jack Haig finished off his mtb career with a silver medal in the 23’s.  He now has bigger fish to fry on the road.  Chris Hamilton finished on the podium in 5th, Ben Forbes was just behind in 6th, and Tasman claimed 10 position. Following his mechanical Tristan brought it home strong to finish in 12th.

So all in all it was a successful weekend in the Torq camp.  Apart from the results, an awesome time was had by all.  There are so many people to thank I don’t really know where to start. My partner Ed has been such a support throughout my whole time racing; I really don’t know what I’d do without his help!  Torq team owners Dean and Gen have been amazing in their organization at these events and I can’t thank them enough.

I’d also like to thank the following major sponsors;

Torq Australia

Momentum Energy

Lifecare

Monza Imports

Complete Wealth

Adidas eyewear

Sram Australia

4Shaw

 

Schwable

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