The release would be on Reef to Reef’s Stage 2. Today’s 50km stage at Davies Creek MTB Park. A short drive from Cairns inland and we arrived. It was cool and quiet and the perfect morning for a race. My partner Mike is known for his great ability to ride a strong ‘moderate’ pace. Sadly for Mike today, it wasn’t going to be ‘moderate’.
Although not a frantic start, the gun went and the faster riders signalled the efficacy of their recovery early. A group of 7 moved clear. 7? But its a pairs race?!? How can you have 7 in a group? Well – I was there without my partner for a moment. Not to worry, I eased up and Mike appeared around the corner, along with dear friends (and mixed category leaders) Kyle Ward and Samara Sheppard. We all rode together for a while, maybe until about the 8km mark – when Kyles tyre stopped holding in its precious invisible cargo. We didn’t see them again.
As we rolled through what has to be some of the most beautiful and remote Australian bushland ever to have been in an MTB stage race, we caught glimpses of a team ahead. We pushed on as best we could. Mike had rediscovered his mojo and we proceeded at a great ‘moderate’ effort. After a long, winding singletrail climb we caught the team we had been chasing for so long, only for them to pretty much immediately drop us again! We needed to remain calm, and this we did. 5 km later up a steeper climb (that came after a lovely cooling river crossing) we tried our legs again and the gap stuck. We had about 15km left for the day and we just rode without checking our shoulders.
The final 10km saw some of the best singletrail of the week so far. Lovely flowing trails through trees and down gullys – we just rolled around like a marble down a helter-skelter.
We crossed the line in 3rd place for the day. Much happier than yesterday, and also moved up to 5th on the GC. All great progress. The winners again today – Brendan and Jon (Giant) were very fast and were on their own from the first 5km I would say. 2nd place went to the first Masters team – Brad and Rohin (Total Rush). Kyle and Samara managed to finally trap some in their rubber and still took the Mixed category for the day, and Briony Mattocks and Anna Beck again won the ladies, although not without some toil – Briony’s pedal FELL OFF with 5km to go, but her dear friend and partner Anna pushed her for the final hills and she freewheeled the downs. She is now checking all her bolts across her bike.
Location: Davies Creek MTB Park
Elevation climbed: ~1000m
For those interested in numbers, it was 49km, and 1000vm. I rode with a Normalised Power of 330w for the 2hrs 15mins of our race. My heart ticked along at 158bpm average, and at some stage (probably a steep pinch) my max power for the day was 1038w