Posted on April 10 2014
Gravity enduro is fairly new to me however, when I discovered this thing called 'Enduro' it soon became apparent to me that it was my type of 'thing'.
A whole day of riding with some short sprint races ranging from 2-15minutes with majority of it being downhill and more technical than your average xc race. You not only require the endurance fitness to ride all day but also the guts to hit some gnarly techy stuff too. "Great! This is where my strengths lie in mountain biking."
Since this discovery I decided to race the 2013 State Champs in Toowoomba which I won. However, I soon came to the realisation that Gravity Enduro also requires lactic burn and puffing! If I wanted to put more of a focus on this discipline of racing I somehow needed to find some faster, more powerful legs and some huffing'n'puffing lungs. It was mid-race that AB insisted she write up a program and coach me. Hesitant about any coaching, I had somehow been convinced to give it a shot and..."Wow! Coaching actually works!"
AB and Cyclinic had come to the rescue!
2014 has not only brought me some faster, more powerful legs but, three more Gravity Enduro races to test them out on. Toowoomba mtb club race, New Zealand's Rotorua 2W Enduro and the first of the SEQ Series at Mt Joyce.
I arrived at Toowoomba GE club race to a huge turn out of riders, almost 150 I believe, only to find there were only two elite women in the field, myself and World Cup Downhiller Claire Buchar. Before the race had even started I'd convinced myself I had come second. Although, I wanted to do my very best to see how close I could get to Claire. And racing is the best training right?!
The race consisted of four stages, not extremely technical but loose and skatey, enough to keep you on the edge. Despite it mostly being downhill, it was quite pedally with a few short climbs, flat-ish switchbacks and plenty of sections to steal all your momentum. Pedalling power and cardiovascular fitness proved to be particularly important. Lucky for me (the XC'er), this was to my advantage.
I raced my best and didn't stack it so couldn't ask for much more, I was content. Unexpectedly I got more… winning by 9 seconds! Extremely dumbfound and stoked! It's very rare for us girls to have such tough competition… AWESOME!
It was only two days after racing in Toowoomba, I was on my way to Rotorua, along with Shaun, Isaac and Lindsay. This place was the complete opposite! The terrain was tacky and losing traction was a thing of the past. I spent a few days of riding the best trails ever and visiting Zippy's (only the best café ever) sipping coffee and eating bagels. Living the dream! Race day was getting near, we had scoped out the stages and tried to memorise tricky sections. It all became too much for my brain to retain, and hence went in with the mindset once again… 'I will just do my best'.
Race day arrived and it was raining aaarrrgghh. The plan was to arrive at the start early to get a good spot. Okay so we were the first out of 450 competitors at the start-line and had to wait in the cold drizzly rain for two hours. The rain wore off, though the roots in the forest were bound to be very slippery.
Over the six stages of racing I had two over-the-bars stacks, one on the first stage and one on the last. Thankfully it was the crash on the last stage that I ripped my front brake hose out leaving me with only a rear brake, although I was not too stoked, I dealt with it for the five minutes left of racing. The stages varied from about 3-15 minutes, with one being a short downhill track through to a long exhausting whole body burn. All of the riding proved to be quite difficult and it was evident that the locals had a massive home ground advantage. I was a bit bummed that I didn't have the perfect race however, was grateful I stayed upright as much as I did and didn't sustain any major injuries.
Finishing 5th out of about 20 in my age category and 9th out of 60 women overall - not too bad for my first overseas race. Shaun, Isaac, Lindsay and I also entered ourselves in a mixed team (whereby you just needed four riders to be eligible) which we won!!! The highlight was hearing on the loud-speaker; "First in the mixed teams is 'TEAM SQUID'". We were all stoked, we had achieved our biggest goal of the trip.
Much like the race in Toowoomba, it was a warm, dry and dusty day out at Mt Joyce. The course involve four race stages which could be raced in any order. I chose tactically to get the more pedally, less technical stages out of the way first, (Blackrock-Porkchop, then Bovine to Tunnel, then Tunnel to secret valley) leaving the double-black diamond trail for last (Widowmaker-Seargents). By that stage I had had a pretty good day without any 'major stuff-ups or lie-downs'. Feeling quite nervous just about riding this double-black diamond stage, my only goal being to stay on! By this time of day quite a few riders had been down and it was completely blown out making this even more of a challenge. But… I did it! And after buzzing in my timing chip, I may have even let out a slight tear (or two) of relief.
Staying on my bike meant it was a day of success and looking back, no real regrets. There was a relatively small field of A grade women however, enough to fill the podium this time. I came in second, behind World Cup Downhill shredder Claire Buchar and in front of World Cup 4X/BMX rider Sarsha Huntington. It was awesome to have a DH'er, XC'er and 4X rider battling it out. These girls don't hold back on the descents, so holding on to my cross-country fitness plus getting some radder skills to get more ragged is definitely the plan of the future.