Words by Sara Mills, Photos by Jacob Alley-Sonter
Rain rain, go away. Bucket down on Awaba another day!
Well, the rain listened and round 1 of the Shimano grand prix was on! This was the first 7hr team event that I was about to do. I had no idea what to expect, just a lot of time on my Raven (not that I was complaining). Alarm went off at 5 and after 2 days of tapering for this event, I was up and ready to go. Packing lots of food I was determined that no hunger flats would happen. However, I broke some hearts when I failed to make any rocky road… Sorry guys, but you know how it is with year 11 studies…
Driving up with Josh’s as fun, pumping the music up, we were getting all psyched up for the race. After a good long chat and time spent listening to “High” by Peking Duck about 10x, we had arrived. Driving in the dirt road, I though Josh was going to turn rally driver, but he remained responsible…for now. Immediately we were overwhelmed by the sea of yellow and blue riders. Being one of three yellow and pink riders, I prided myself in being easy for Josh to see at transition. Setting our things up, I got to meet all of the other Jet Black crew. I have to say, I can’t remember all of your names as there were so many of you, but you are all extremely genuine gentleman with a passion for the wonderful a delightful sport of mountain biking
9am rolled onto all the clocks and before I knew it, everyone was off! Josh went and did first lap and as I waited for him to come around, I investigated about the course. Was it technical? how many hills were there? what was the hardest section? how far was it? Blah, blah, blah! Thank you to everyone who put up with me.
Not long after the first riders came through, the yellow and blue train pulled in. Riders were sling shouted down the trail. My first impression of the riders who came back was just mud. Mud everywhere… I knew it was Josh coming because of those extremely colourful glasses. Whoosh, I was off and the first thing that hit was, yup, you guessed it. Mud. But this was an MTB race, not a Sunday coffee cruise. I rocketed off and quickly overtook a lot of riders. The course was smooth but very wet. At least there were so,e good hills for me to make up time. I liked the course. I was enjoying it and as I pulled in for my lap to transition, I immediately shoved the sample mandarin Gu down my neck. I so regret test hat Gu, I felt like gagging! It was the most vial thing I have ever out in my mouth. Spitting it out I reached for much more pleasant vanilla bean and sat down to rest for a minute.
I talked to the JB team some more and met the legendary Andrew Fell whom all the roadies talk about as being a speed demon. I talked to Rachel, and Tristan from Torq nutrition and was starting to feel really good. Wanting to out something solid in, I decided that my next laps would be a double dice. WOW did I feel good on those 2 laps. So fast, so floppy and I ride everything flawlessly. I passed other fellow JB riders whom all cheered me on and pushed me forward. (And asked me where the hell the Rocky Road was) That’s what I love about JetBlack, is the teams spirit, mate ship and encouragement you all give to each other. That’s not often found and I am so privileged to be on a Team who’s main vibe is just that. Coming in from my second lap I scored a rather annoyed look form Josh. Thinking it was just a bad muesli bar I dismounted and started to relax a bit. I had an hour off, a compete hour. And that’s when I heard it. “Sara Mills is on,y 1 second away from Lana Moy for the fastest women’s lap! The fastest lady will recite the Tracy Memorial Trophy!”
‘You’ve got to do it,’ Fell jeered. ’35! Do it Sara!’ Tristan Ward said sitting on my bike and happily adjusting my brakes as changing my bike set up. Typical Wardy…
Well. Only 1 second. Right, I thought to myself, I’ll take this. Another banana, another Gu, another annoyed look from Josh coming into transition ans I sled off, ready and filled with the burning desire to take that 1 second and be the fastest women rider of the day. Speeding down the single track and down the slippery road, I passed another JB rider or 3 and got out of the saddle catching up to some of the fast pacing 4hr solo guys. Sitting in their tails got me a great rhythm and I was so enjoying the ride. The track had packed down a fair bit and it was smoother, lines had been ridden in and I was able to anticipate turns and efforts to beat that 1 second. 1 km to go, I was getting tired. Looking down at my Garmin briefly I saw that I had a good time. So I thought maybe I would back off the power for a bit… Ahh, no chance of that when you have Andrew Fell on your arse screaming “Don’t let me overtake you! Keep those lady legs spinning!” Oh hell… But I pushed I dug deep and I rolled over the finish line with the fastest time if the day by over 42 seconds! I had done it, I had the fastest time!
Coming back over to club JB I saw the 4 hr racers eating and chilling out. They had finished. All I wanted to do now was collapse and sleep. Not happening, we still had over an hour and 20 minutes to go. Another banana later I was feeling it. But I got on the bike and ride again. I felt sick to my stomach! Each peddle stroke became forced, each hill a mountain and with every km passed the urge to hurl was growing. I slowed down abut and got my head together…
“Feel the pain Sara? That’s the burning desire to win. The greater the pain in your legs the greater your dire is to win. Finish this!”
I powered up the last of the switch backs and across the finish line! Yeww! My slowest lap and the hardest lap was finished. Suddenly, Martin called me over.
“We don’t want you to go out again. When Josh finishes, you’re race is over.”
Had we done something wrong?
“No, you’re just almost 2 laps faster than 2nd place.”
I got some mic time with the commentator about my lap and the great spirit of JetBlack. That was great.
Josh finished it off in a painful 38 minutes and he celebrated with a can of coke.
Standing a top of that podium just felt so right. Even more so with Josh, he is honestly the best team mate anyone could ask for! Fast, funny, mature and motivated to win! I got some more mic time and welcomed a prize of fastest women with open arms. Having only recently turning 17 it was just such a triumph to win that. After ruining Dave Pickles’ selfie, we loaded the goods and beef into the cars and headed off home.
On the way home we pumped up the tunes again. After killing a crazy bug and hearing Josh scream like a girl, the two Andrews past us pulling faces which we gladly returned.
All in all, this was a fantastic way to start racing the Grand Prix. I had so much fun and learnt to push myself to the extreme. Thank you to everyone who made it such a great day! I can’t wait until James Estate Winery where I will be brining my soul, spirit and burning desire to win… And of course some rocky road
Congratulations to all the riders who raced today. It’s not easy to do these sort of races. You’re all winners and deserve a good rest. Until next time JetBlack!
Another write-up of the event by team member Phil Welch