Words by Nardeen Hayden, Pictures by Jacob Alley-Sonter, Candace Brown and Nathan Johnston
Mitch, Curtis and I departed Manilla on the 5th of September. This 10 day road trip revolved around mountain biking, unicycles, camping, eating and a touch of homework. The first stop being the Back Yamma Bigfoot Race near Parks.
With Back Yamma success on board (and another week off work and school) we began our journey from Back Yamma to Canberra – music blaring, car dancing and punches every time we see a mini (it’s a boy thing I don’t understand). The car journey brings us close, I mean really close. 3 across the front seat of my ute is a challenge, particularly for Mitch who is stuck in the middle.
The early arrival in Canberra gave us heaps of time to ride the race course and for the boys to venture onto other Stromlo trails with major excitement.
During the practice lap Ash gave 2 demonstrations of his flying abilities with his bike and sought sympathy (from his canine friend) Saifar to lick his wounds. For those that missed the live entertainment, both crashes were captured on camera and can be viewed on the Facebook page.
Browny had psyched himself out of being able to ride the rock on the hair pin corner. I gave him some advise (yes me giving Browny a lesson) and he decided that if Nards can ride it he can ride it and he did – every lap. Pizza for dinner on Friday night was a hit for all those camping at Stromlo, followed by an early night.
Most riders rose with the sun, except Mitch. Have I ever mentioned that he is not a morning person, particularly on his birthday. Team briefing, the presentation of a cheque to Mitch and Curtis for the Junior Development Camp and birthday wishes to Mitch were held prior to the race. Solo riders were busy preparing their table, food and bottles, except for those fortunate enough to have a beautiful spouse to assist (thanks Fi and Donna).
The criterion track was integrated into the race start. The sound of tyres humming and singles speed riders pedalling at 200rpm provided much entertainment. Congestion was created as the bunch of riders flowed down the funnel into the single track. The underpass was the best viewing point to gauge how team mates faired in the starting chaos.
Transition was crowded with riders eager to hit the trail. Slowly transition emptied and sweaty riders came in with stories of hectic trail near misses. A more relaxed track was experienced at the end of the 4hr event. Solo riders were in a rhythm and mentally on task for the next 3 hours and team riders still giving it their best on every lap.
The rock drop (now known as Ash’s rock) must be approached with extreme caution by all JetBlack riders. In addition to Ash making himself infertile, a near miss has also been reported between 3 JetBlack riders. An unknown JB rider could not decide between the A and B line and created an A- or B+ line. To avoid another shoulder injury, Elton took a sharp right into the B line. Crummy came flying down the A line. So we have a Crummy on the A line, the unknown JB rider on the A- B+ line and a Elton on the B line all trying to make 1 exit. This becomes a mathematical inequation when width of the 3 riders is greater than the width of the exit track, represented by the formula Width (R1 + R2 +R3) > Width (Exit). Fortunately the skills of the JB riders were engaged to avoid a collision. Who was the 3rd rider?
It has also been reported that Peter Robinson went OTB on Heartbreak Climb… this is new to me, how do you OTB on a climb? To make it worse he landed under his bike. Unfortunately this incident was not caught on camera as the camera crew were too busy following Ash for extra footage.
Many riders commented on improvements in lap times. Did I mention that I was 11 minutes quicker than last year? My cornering has improved from being like a B Double last year to a ute this year. Next year I’m going to corner like a sports car. I will be fast (and I will keep telling myself this).
As a team we have many unwritten rules, good track ethic, wearing team uniform on the podium (Marty), offering assistance, etc. Serious discussion regarding theft within the team and perhaps consequences for such actions is required. The most serious form of theft is stealing someone else’s lap times that are substantially quicker than yours. And remember if you have ever considered doing this (Mr GG) that Big Brother Strava is watching you.
Surprisingly very few injuries occurred other than bumps, bruises and grazes. Pickles and Guru managed to complete the event without placing our Medicare system into bankruptcy. There were proud moments as Jetblack rider after Jetblack ride took to the podium.
Special mention for our newest Junior racers Matt Flavell and Jess Pickles. It takes guts to enter a track with such fast riders and all that testosterone. Matt and Jess, we are proud of you giving it all your best.
The Onya Bike team passed on the most awesome compliment that we could ever receive as a team. They said that we were the most courteous team when overtaking or being overtaken. “Quickly but carefully” is a status that we should all be proud of.
Saturday night was filled with food and stories about the event. For those who stayed up after Big Dog went to bed we were entertained by recounts of life in the Pickles house. Nathans laughing indicated he really enjoyed the story but possibly is unable to recall any of the details as he was so … tired.
Camp began to break before sunrise on Sunday morning. Facing a 11 hr drive we were keen to hit the road early. Load music was played to get into the journey frame of mind. The volume was lowered before we hit the Federal Highway and silence set in. The boys drifted in and out of sleep in between asking for food stops – these guys eat as well as they ride. I had the best week which would not have been as entertaining without Mitch and Curtis (I forgot to mention Curtis falling off his unicycle in front of the teenage girls – so funny). They are the most awesome young men and role models for our younger members.
The season is now at an end for the Manilla connection and I would really like to thank all JetBlack riders and their families. The generosity that you have shown Mitch, Curtis, myself and all the other teenage boys in Manilla remind me that there is still humanity in this world. We will miss you all. Roll on 2015 season.