To make sure we get a solid cyclocross calendar, featuring local, state and national events - in amongst an already oversaturated road and MTB calendar - some concessions must be made. One such concession is the double-header weekend - packing 2 rounds of the National Cyclocross Series (NCXS) into 2 days.
The potential drawbacks are obvious, the location/course is often the same or similar (sometimes simply run in reverse), as is the climate and conditions. The crowd numbers are often divided across the days, and if you get a minor injury or bust your bike, well, you’re in trouble.
The flipside is the Saturday night, when the whole crew can come together, without someone having to head off to the airport or drive off into the night. Better still, because this is cyclocross, we don’t take ourselves too seriously, and have a brew or two together, despite the need to race like animals the next day. It’s a good group.
... but different
After the dust bowl of round 2, we woke up Sunday morning expecting more of the same for round 3. You know, same course, same weather, etc.
Instead, we were pleasantly surprised to see the heavy overnight rain had done it’s job. When we returned to Baden Powell Park, it looked like a different world. Where once there was dust, we now found mud.
Better still, the course had been changed to now include a large, mud-clad, run-up.
Young and old were thrown to the course, to test the conditions ahead of the elite women and men.
The elites watched on, rather intently, trying to get a read on how this mud-fest of a course was behaving.
All eyes were on ‘mud mountain’. Or, as one nearby spectator put it, the biggest run-up he’d ever seen at an Australian CX event. Wave after wave of riders were reduced to a slow sticky stomp, bodies clambering to stay upright on the steep incline, stepping over and/or around one another to avoid being trampled.
Juniors riders Anakin Williams & Zach Larsson hammered each other to pieces, with Anakin narrowly coming away with the win. The ‘cross is strong with that one.
Conditions had improved by the start of the women’s race, which was a little disappointing. The course had begun to dry, increasing the grip and reducing the slap-stick.
Out front, Nat Redmond and Kim Hurst were having another intense battle, in what is fast becoming a two horse race. This time, however, Kim was able to shed Nat for a more convincing round 3 win.
|Natalie REDMOND||Oz Riders||+0:00:41|
|April MCDONOUGH||Flanders JBlood||+0:01:09|
|4||Tessa FABRY||CT Velo Club||+0:01:45|
|5||Rebecca LOCKE||Team WillyLocke||+0:01:52|
Bring the heckle
More grip, faster racing. The elite men were spoiled with the best conditions of the day, taking away a little of the lustre and mystique of ‘mud mountain’.
Still, Queensland is number 1 for heckling enthusiasm, and the crowd found voice at the run-up. What had been physical torture earlier in the day was now entirely mental as hecklers got within centimetres from the rider’s ears with carefully chosen words of non-encouragement.
The combination of a gruelling course and flagrant insults led to some sky-high heart rates. Still, Garry Millburn, ‘Mr Holeshot’, managed to open a sizeable gap on series leader Chris Jongewaard (was it a mechanical? a crash? or a vicious attack? – we didn’t see it). Garry was going full gas to maintain his lead, looking like he may actually pop an eyeball or have a stroke. This brought the crowd right into it - could Garry cause an upset to shake-up the series?
Chris did slowly pull Garry back, eventually passing him for for a solid win. Garry made it in for second, the podium rounded out by Chris Aitken.
|Chris JONGEWAARD||Flanders JBlood||1:01:35|
|Christopher AITKEN||Focus Attaquer||+0:01:13|
|4||Shaun LEWIS||Focus Attaquer||+0:01:21|
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