Monday, May 30, 2011

Stromlo CORC XCO - 29th May 2011



I love riding and racing at Stromlo. It has got to be one of the best set up places in Australia. On the morning, I drove through the fog from my place out to Stromlo. It was only a club race but I still get mad butterflies when heading out to Stromlo. It is probably because you can see the mountain from about 10km out, and as it looms near, you can even see the trails on the side of the hill.

I wasn't sure how I would feel on this morning as I had put in about 5 or so hours the day before on the road bike in the bakery bunch followed by some Contador work in the mountains of the brindabellas. Last weekend, I introduced Will to the Contador challenge. This is a pretty good training technique, but is pretty risky when doing it so far from home with a few hills left to ride. It really depeletes glycogen levels in the legs!! This is why recovery rollettes and nachos are essential!

Anyway, after signing on I took off for a spin around the course. It was a standard loop, halfway up the trunk trail, right turn onto Duffy street foreroad,, then up ugly coastal, across slant six, then back down breakout (coastal zen) followed by the descent down to the carpark through the start/finish area. It's always a good sign when you stack it in front of people trying to drift into a corner. I thought I had it dialled, but when I released the brakes, the tyres broke and I had to lay it down! No damage done though, so that was good.

When I got back to the finish I cast a gaze around the place to see who had turned up. Brad Morton, Brendan 'Trekkie' Johnston, Matt Rizzutto, Bowron Miller were all guys that I saw and made a mental note of. On the start line, the race director was providing us with an overview of the course using the names of the trails. We were all laughing becasue we had no idea where half of these trails were (by name), I even run my own names for some of the trails based on before they were even officially named. I stressed a few people out when I told people not to use their brakes when going down skyline. The race didn't use skyline, and some of the guys were stressed that they had missed a turn in their practise lap. Probably a situational joke, that one!

When the gun went off, I slotted into 4th place by the time the race went under the DH bridge and hit single file. On the short climb, brendan hit a rut and had to unclip, so I managed to get back a place here. Matt was leading, followed by Brad and myself. The race was bumper to bumper all the way up here from first place to last place on the first lap. This stayed that way until the end of the trunk track singletrack. I went past on the downhill fireroad (duffy street) and brad got on my wheel followed by Matt and Brendan.

On the next fireroad climb I sprinted out of the saddle all the way up, before hitting up the right hander into slant six. Now the gaps were starting to appear, as it was only the 4 of us in the initial selection. I managed to keep the pressure on and after the first lap had a bit of a gap of 4 seconds on Brad. Brendan was about 20 seconds or so back and Matt had some machanical issues which mucked up his race a bit.

The next 3 laps were about traffic management and keeping the pressure on to increase the advantage. I was impressed with the amount of young kids racing out there today. That is always a good sign for the future of the sport. With the legs still feeling strong, I finished off the 5 laps and executed the race plan that I had in my mind exactly how I wanted it to go. This is always a good thing, as it can be hard to stick to a plan when racing.

I finished in 1st place with Brad and Will rounding out the podium.

The conditions today were perfect for racing. Cold but not freezing, track conditions were 'stromlo dry', which requires skill to go fast and stay upright. These are pretty much my favorite conditions for racing or riding at stromlo. I find that when the course is damp, it equalises the ability of riders because it is easier to ride the corners. When it is dry and slippery, the skill factor comes into play in a big way.

Another factor which assisted me was my Cannondale Lefty fork. I had RLC do some pretty cool stuff to customize the way the travel was used throughout the stroke. This worked a treat and even with using hard compound, fast rolling (ie a bit ordinary for cornering on kitty litter) Specialized Renegade tyres, I was never wanting for more front end grip. A big thanks to Aiden Lefman from RLC for this tune up!

The Specialized BG fit that Lonsdale Street Cyclery did for me back in early 2011 is also paying off. The body is now fully used to the new positioning on both the road bike and the mountain bike and I am finding that I can output more power with the same amount of effort. It did take a lot of getting used to this new positioning but it has been well worth the investment in time here.

A big thanks to CORC for always running grass roots club events. We all have to start somewhere and it is through the local club races that you can get the initial stepping stone to build your experience.

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