Words by Andrew Finlayson, Elton Judd, Kevin Wynne-Smythe and Simon Ballard
Pictures by Scott Reynolds & Martin Freeland
With plenty of people looking forward to the final round of the Western Sydney MTB summer series being raced at the new Wylde MTB park at Cecil hills, the weather duly took a turn for the worse this week and thoroughly wet down the track. Wylde is a clay based surface that responds well to some water, but with only a touch more is a slippery affair.
Much nervous Facebook prediction and anticipation the round was deemed to be going ahead at Wylde and I think there was a collective sigh of relief. Yellomundee was the backup plan and while it is OK enough as an XCO course, it’s brutal after 4 hours and the short laps play havoc with the brain.
A good contingent of JetBlack MTB Racing team were in attendance including myself (Finno), Crummy, Elton Judd, Grant Shaw and Ben Go, Kev Wynne-Smythe, George Greig, Ian Butler and new recruits Chris Ryder, David Collins, Lindy Turnbull, David and Simon Ballard. Tony also turned up with a few Pivot bikes and we jealously cast our eyes over the trick setups.
I did my usual wander down the pits to try and see who’s turned up to race and spotted Trek Factory Racings Dan McDonald. This along with the usual strong contingent from WSMTB of Ian Anderson and Steve Billington plus our own Michael Crummy there was going to be no shortage of riders to keep things honest.
In preparation for this years 7hour races (and their typical fast starts) I had in mind that the first two laps were going to be solid. I got good holeshot and led the first lap till about the 6k marker at which point I let one of the Torq young guns through, preferring to follow the teams and be able to set my own pace rather than push to avoid holding them up. Dan seemed to have a bit of a rotten start but was on my wheel towards the end of the first lap.
The course was wet and slippery making the going difficult. The slower you have to corner, the more power is going to be required to keep up some semblance of track speed, plus the mud saps the legs. If we thought the first lap was slippery the second was diabolical. The first lap of the field wasn’t enough to bed the track in, rather just chew it up. I lost count of the number of ‘moments’ I had over those first two laps.
Third lap onwards, things began to pick up. Dan and I were riding together and having a bit of a chat at this point. Reaching Col de Cecil I thought I’d see where his legs were at and attacked up the switchback climb. Towards the top I established a small gap and set about building it over the next lap or two.
The rest of a longer Enduro race turns into managing food and drink, keeping the pace high enough to maintain a lead but not pushing so far that you bonk or cramp. Having the power meter certainly helps in this regard as I generally know what intensity I can maintain throughout and event of this length. I took a time gap check with a few laps to go and realised my lead was comfortable enough. Maintaining pace through to the finish proved plenty to take the win.
Michael Crummy 2nd solo men
Lap 1 – Started a little further back than I would have liked and consequently had to put up with a fair bit of conga traffic on the first half of lap 1. Super happy with the tyre choice on the Pivot, Nobby Nics were outstanding in the conditions, their huge widely spaced knobs gripping where XC tyres slick. By the end of lap 1 I had pulled back sufficient time to be within sight of may main competitors.
Lap 2 – More mishaps by other competitors, SS Steve and Ian Anderson, like two pancakes sliding along the trail. Went on to loose my numberplate which was heavy with mud, had to run back and find it, not ideal. Started to get into a rhythm on the trail and fine-tuned line choice.
Lap 3 – Having swapped bikes to the On One HT, the Pivot having some shifting issues Lap 2, the trail was drying out and getting faster. Launched of one kicker on a downhill section, to find myself shooting into the bush, seems I hadn’t tested my brakes earlier.
Lap 4-6 – Settled into the pain of short pinch climbs which I think was the cause of some back discomfort but had plenty of riders around me to ride with particularly Steve Billington from Quantum Racing. We often formed a little bunch making it easy to get multiple riders flowing in a passing situation. We were making good times and slowly pulling back any fast XC riders.
Lap 7 – Getting the nutrition right was a big part of the day and I had consumed a gel mid Lap 6 in prep for Lap 7, I wanted to ensure Steve had no answer. Within the first 3km I could see I had a neat gap, but I didn’t turn the screws down till the second half of the lap, scream through the final sections making every double and railing every berm.
Chris Ryder 8th solo men
Elton Judd 9th solo men (2nd SS)
Last year I built a single-speed as a fun project and to have as a spare bike if I had any issues with my Epic. Turns out today was the first day to race a single-speed (a steel On-one Inbred) as I discovered the night before the WSMTB 4hr that several spokes had come loose on my Epic at Stromlo during the AMB100 (remember the noise Kevlar mentioned in his race writeup). Fortunately it turned out to be a great choice in such mucky conditions as the drivetrain performed flawlessly combined with grippy XR3/Ardent tyres.
I was joined in the SS category by team mates Kevin Wynne-Smythe & David Collins as well as notable WSMTB riders Brian ‘big dog’ Price and Stephen Tomczyk. The first lap was like skating on mud but amazingly enough I stayed upright and from the second lap the track became grippier and grippier. At the end of my second lap I saw Grant Shaw and Ben Go (who were racing as pairs together) leaving. I called out that the track is very grippy but it was not enticing enough for them to stay. It turns out that after Ben’s first lap, Grant decided not to chance it on his clean bike with racing tyres and went on a road ride later in the day where he got a flat tyre and forgot to start his Garmin – not his day.
At the end of the day I ended up with 9th overall (6 laps/72km) and was the top placed SS rider from the JetBlack team after coming past both team mates in the closing laps. If there was a SS category, I would have been 2nd with Kevlar 3rd. Unfortunately the WSMTB computer failed and Erica had to resort to pen and paper to determine the results which means no stats for Dataman to analyse
Kevin Wynne-Smythe 11th solo men (3rd SS)
Packing for a race with no bike in the back is a surreal feeling, as you can’t help but think “have I forgotten something?”
So I left the house with slight angst as I was truly hoping Dave ‘G-Man’ Grupey had remembered to put MY bike in his ute along with his! (Previous mechanical issue was being sorted at JB HQ) . The boy did good, and even put it on his back seat so as not to scratch it in anyway (it’s a freeking MTB dood! Lol)
Anyways. Bike was tweaked and she was ready to go with a new Gen2 swing arm kit. (The mechanical issue I was having)
Quick couple of laps of the kiddies loop to ‘dial it in’ and I was ready.
The rain had other ideas though, and the call was made to delay by half an hour to see what it would do.
8.30a.m and after a few sprinkles of the wet stuff, it was wheels away!
With no separate class for single speeders, or masters for that matter, it was every man for himself in the solo category.
The first lap was a case of “keep it upright”, with the track resembling an ice rink more than a MTB track! The second lap was just as bad, with clumps of mud throwing themselves every which way. (You’ve heard the saying “here’s mud in your eye”? Well.. Plenty o’ that happening! Unfortunately, nothing to do with drinking!)
Come the 3rd lap, and with the aid of the muggy heat that was hitting us, it was hero dirt time! Ye-harrr! In the space of an hour it had turned from ice rink to super glue. Perfect track conditions! (bar a few minor puddles here and there to keep you on your toes)
Unfortunately, come lap 5/6, a 2 min sprinkle of the wet stuff was all it took to transform it back to a minor slip and slide. By this time though, riders were aware and knew how to handle it.
Now. And on a small ‘Billy Connolly style tangent’..
To my fellow MTB’ers back home in Blighty. You may be thinking “what a bunch of pansies! We race in the slop all the time”. And that you do… And that. You. Do.
But there are reasons WHY we don’t do such a thing here (i.e race whatever the weather blah blah etc etc)
And the reasons are thus:
A: The soil is not soil. It’s clay. It just doesn’t soak it up like the beautiful dark brown stuff I loved racing on all those years ago.
B: If ridden on consistently in those conditions, the national parks tree hugging fraternity people, (for one) take offense to it, as they would like to preserve the parks as best as possible. And the tracks just don’t recover as well as they do in the good ol’ U.K. Once a track is wrecked. It will be closed for however long they deem fit for it to recover. It’s as simple as that.
What we DO have down here for most races, that you don’t have up there, is intense heat and dust. It literally is like chalk and cheese racing and comparing apples with pears. (The fine dust plays just as much havoc with your drive train as does the northern hemisphere slop! )
Right. Where was I?
Oh yeah. Hero dirt and slip and slides
For those few laps that the hero dirt was available, it was so much fun to ride this relatively new track. Tyre choice was pretty critical, so if you happened to have some nobbly nics in your man shed, it would have been prudent to throw them on last night. Where as a Kenda small block 8?… Err good luck!
On a personal performance level, I was happy with a solid hit out today. 11th from 69 solo riders. 3rd in SS? (if there would have been one)
No mechanicals (thanks G Man!) and food and water were spot on.
I was, however, leaking like a knackered bath tap, with an endless steam of sweat coming from under the lid. All the more reason to keep the fluids up!
A quick stop at 3hrs to stretch my back out (was feeling every last bump, and it was frustrating the hell out of me) let my SS compatriot, Elton ‘Rocketman’ Judd slip through. He maintained that few second lead on me till the end to put in a solid performance on his first SS outing. Well done mate!
All in all. Happy with the race. The pre-season training is going great, with not one hint of the cramps that dogged me last season. Muscles conditioned? Quite possibly so. I’ve been following a gym/ride program set by my good china, James ‘Chops’ Lamb, so fingers crossed they stay away for the upcoming Rockytrail Shimano 7hr Grand Prix series. (I was getting cramps in places I didn’t know you could get cramps!)
Great results from the Jet Black racing crew, with Andrew Finlayson
taking out the top two steps of the block in the solo’s.
Big congrats to Erica and the timing crew for managing the timing when the lap top decided to ‘Go south’ and to Western Sydney MTB Club for another great summer series of racing.
Bike Minded for the prizes, and all the volunteers/marshalls who help put these events together. Without them..we got no race!
Keep it rubber side down kids! (A safety message brought to you by the executive committee )
David Collins top 20 solo men (4th SS)
Ian Butler 46th solo men
George Grieg 66th solo men
was another retirement with pulling the pin after half a lap even though the conditions were much like those found in his homeland.
Simon & David Ballard mens pairs
After waking up and looking at the BOM radar site with a blue patch going west over Liverpool I was convinced the race would be called off.
then after arriving the track looked wet and it might not be to be bad.
Then the race was delayed for 35 min due to a light shower it was time for racing to begin after race briefing.
I lined up 2nd row behind Fino and some other quick guys and was pretty happy with my self seeding as I was passed by 2 people on the 1st lap.
1st lap in pairs with David Ballard that was one fast wild lap that I haven’t had that much fun in the mud since my last dh race since 2009 (that was a mud fest too with rivers down the track)
Lap 2 was the beginning of hero dirt and having so much fun my chain snapped. so 5min lost with a new quick link being fitted( happened at the 6km mark) I was nursing it back in one piece to tag David out for another lap.
lap 3 and 4 well that was the best trail with the clay was that hard it was like riding on the road. Two very clean laps followed.
great to see the jetback crew getting podiums and having a great time on there mtbs.