The dirt crits finally made their way back to Stromlo after about 3 races were cancelled due to rain. This was the 3rd time I had been on the mountain bike since the last one way back in early December. So, I saddled up and rode over to Stromlo which took about an hour via way of Bruce Ridge, Black Mountain and some bikepath thrashing.
Stromlo was dry and dusty, exactly how it should be. My new XTR 10 speed was shifting flawlessly, and the Specialized Renegade tyres were gripping like they were designed to at super speeds.
The course was an old standard which started on the bitumen, went up and over the tunnel, chucked a right before the 4X track then another hard right before going back through the tunnel. From here it went down through the nicely washed away singeltrack back down to the bitumen.
The race was 6 laps and all up took about 10 minutes, so the laps were really short. There was a slight tailwind fromt he bitumen to the top of the tunnel, which was perfect.
My objectives for this race were to see where my fitness was at. After not racing for a while it is always interesting how things will go. From the gun, I managed to get a quick clip in and was able to ramp up the speed pretty quickly, taking the holeshot into the first corner and successfully leading for the 1st lap prime of $1000. (fully self funded!) The next 3 laps, I continued to smash out some pretty high intensity efforts, hovering between 176 and 183 bpm for the whole time. Pretty much 95% of max HR.
I had Ben Henderson and Brad Morton on my wheel for the first 4 laps, before Brad was able to sneak by on the top straight. I immediately got onto his wheel and held that position for 1 full lap before the elastic snapped and he got a 20 metre gap on me. From here it was just a matter of finishing the race with the same 20m gap. Ben Henderson finished 3rd with Ben Cory in 4th. 2nd place for the first crit of the year and reasonably happy with the form.
The spin home was welcome as I had gone reasonably deep and was able to successfully spin out the crap in my legs, talk some crap and enjoy the fresh oxygen.
I am headed back to Stromlo today for another Dirt Crit, probably on another course, which is always a good thing. I Can't wait!
Thansk to Russ Baker for the photos.