Posted on August 16 2017
Earlier this year I raced at Garapine and it was freaking scary! Those tracks tested my skills and guts! Then to find out State Champs was going to be held there… aaarrgh!
Since then I have treated myself with a visit to America, shredding bike trails in Colorado and Whistler. I am now a confident 'caser'! (To case a jump means to come up short and landing on the backside of the lander and not landing smoothly). These trails taught me to harden up a little bit making Garapine seemingly not so terrifying anymore.
Garapine State Champs consisted of five stages over four tracks on one hill - King Brown > Black Snake > Bullseye > Blue > King Brown (again). Bearing in mind the hill is only 120 meters in elevation yet, it delivers some rad, loose, steep, technical trails to test my limits once again. All the stages were relatively short (4-5 minutes) with no terribly long pedally section however, enough to breathe like a dying horse and burn the legs. With this in mind, I knew I needed to ride on the edge of 'out-of-control', push as much power into those pedal strokes whenever there was an opportunity and stay up and hang on!
Saturday - Practice in the morning and Prologue (seeding race- not compulsory) in the afternoon.
Remembering from the last race here where I totally cooked myself on the practice day just trying to learn these 'scary' tracks; I did not want to make the same mistake this time. It's hard to learn one track let alone four so I decided to scrap that idea and ensure I could just ride them all comfortably and commit to most, if not all of the jumps now that I am a confident caser ;-) . Thanks to Brisbane Mountain bike Shuttle service for the uplifts on practice day - you saved me!
When it came to the Prologue on Saturday afternoon I was quite exhausted and it had been a steaming hot day. The prologue consisted of the top of Black Snake into Bullseye to the bottom. Deep down I knew it didn't 'count' towards racing and it showed in my performance; I didn't put too much effort into pedalling and had a little lie-down on one of the many off-camber loose turns. Still good practice I say. Managed to come second to Angela. Although, I was not satisfied; this drove me to give it my all and get ragged if I wanted to win on race day.
Sunday - Racing time!
With seven Elite Women on the start list it was not going to be a walk in the park. And I'm not going to lie… I was quite nervous! This was the last race this year that I actually cared about. I knew it was time to take some risks.
Stage One - King Brown
This is probably one of the most technical trails of the day, featuring some steep, loose corners, off-camber, jumps, the road gap, a steep rock garden thing into a blown out turn and did I mention loose?
I rode well, hit the jumps, I got to the bottom clean and felt exhausted so I was stoked! Angela who had left 30 seconds ahead of me said she could hear me coming which is a good sign that I'd had a great run. I was a happy girl :)
Stage Two - Black Snake
Another technical trail and another good run. I had to overtake once but fortunately did not lose anytime as we were both approaching the dirt road crossing which made for easy passing. I think I even cleared a couple of jumps that I hadn't even thought of attempting at the race earlier in the year. Still a happy girl :)
Stage Three - Bullseye
This is the track I stacked it on in the Prologue so I knew what I had to do. A long fire road sprint to start and just lots of loose off-camber. I think I was yelling obscene words in my head like, "EFFING SPRINT HARDER!". I knew I just had to not give up sprinting until I reached the corners where I then needed to 'try' and 'focus' on taking inside lines as much as possible just to stay on the track. I wish I had practiced my foot-out cornering but… I didn't so I stayed in the pedals like no-one else. Nonetheless a success. Still happy :)
Stage Four - Blue
The least technical track of the day with plenty of potential to stuff-up. Thinking back to racing this trail earlier in the year, it was the trail I stacked on twice so I knew that although it is the easiest technically, it still requires focus and deserves some respect. With some decent sections to get the legs burning and the heart racing, I had to make the most of it as this is usually my forte as the 'XCer'. I didn't have a great run but I put this down to exhaustion and after seeing the timed results it was not as bad as I thought. I think the bat-out-of-hell sprinting paid off. And still smiling :)
As I slowly pottered back up the hill for the final stage I hear 'tss tss tss' coming from my rear tire. "Aargh, I have a tear in my tire! Bugger!" On a positive note I was lucky I didn't flat during the race stage. I barely lost pressure however, with this in mind I didn't want to risk flatting on the final stage. I waited for my Polarbear (and Cyclinic mechanic) to give me the all clear that it should be ok to get me down the hill once more.
Stage Five - King Brown
This time round this already technical track was made more challenging due to it being totally blown out! The highlight was overtaking a guy while mid-air! As he rolled around the road gap I boosted - couldn't have been more perfect timing for that overtake! It was not as fast, clean or smooth as when I rode this track for the first stage of the day but I was buggered and concerned about losing the wind in my rear tire, so I was just thrilled to be finished and to have stayed upright for the entire day! Happy days.
It was then time to jump in the creek and bring the core body temperature down before heading back up the hill to see how I faired against the other girls.
I was the only elite woman left to put my timing chip in so it all depended on me for all the ladies final results. As I reached the top of the hill, I was greeted by Sarsha (who was currently leading and nervously awaiting) and herded to the timing area. I was happy with my efforts and even more stoked to take the win.
Podium shenanigans! And...drenched!