With just a few days before the World Champs here in Canberra, the biggest race of my year is finally here. 12 months ago I travelled to the same place and took part in the “Scott 24hr”, the largest race in Australia and among a very competitive field I finished 2nd behind reigning World Champion Jason English. That race gave me the belief in myself knowing that I had what it took to mix it with the fastest riders in the World, now that I am here its almost time for the showdown.
We left the UK almost 2 weeks ago and our journey was relatively straight forward. I have previously struggled with jet-lag, even on the recent trip to Mongolia I found it difficult to adjust, so for this trip I took melatonin and it seems to work wonders. I felt relatively normal the day after landing and within a few days had completely adjusted. Landing in Melbourne we stayed in the city for a few days before heading east, stopping for a few nights at Lakes Entrance where I rode a local trail a few days and saw a snake each day, which is not a sight I am used to! The next few days were spent in the coastal town of Tathra in New South Wales and we had a very warm welcome.
Tathra has a network of MTB trails all built and maintained by a small group of volunteers, spearheaded by Andy and Tom from the MTB club. The trails are lots of fun and I really enjoyed my time there. Andy took us out on his boat whale watching where we saw a humpback and calf up-close, the calf having loads of fun jumping out of the water constantly. Then I had some fun being pulled on the doughnut behind the boat and “skurfing”, which was kneeling on a surf board while being towed. Finally I tried wake boarding, but that was a complete disaster as I couldn’t get out of the water! The following day I even had a surf lesson and while the surf wasn’t massive for the area it was bigger than I’ve been in the water with. I enjoyed it, although didn’t quite get to the standing up bit.
The club happened to be hosting a XC race on the Saturday that we were there, so I used it as a final high intensity session and had a blast. The 20km route was 100% singletrack and used most of the trails in the area. A group of 3 of us pulled away at the start, then after a few kilometers I upped the pace and pulled away slowly, finishing around 57min. The club and people from Tathra made us feel very welcome and I hope to return there after the Croc Trophy for some R&R.
Arriving in Canberra on Sunday we headed straight to Stromlo where the Scott 25 was just finishing. The race was an extra hour longer than usual because the club is celebrating its 25th anniversary. There was no solo category this year, because of WEMBO being the following weekend that the club are hosting and organising. It was great to meet with all the people that I’ve come to know from the city and surrounding as I also met up with Jet Black, the Pivot Cycles distributor for Australia to pick up my spare Pivot 429 Carbon bike and also meet the guys from Pushy’s cycles, one of the biggest shops in Australia that sell Pivot.
Monday and Tuesday were relatively quiet, each day I spent a few hours at Stromlo riding the course, which I have ridden all of before. It’s a lap that suits me well, being around 17km long with gradual climbs and some fast technical sections. Perhaps the most difficult factor will be that it is almost 100% singletrack, making overtaking harder but more importantly for me, making it hard to eat and drink.
The remainder of the week will be short duration rides, mostly around Stromlo getting the course dialled in before the big race starts at midday on Saturday local time. We are currently 10 hours ahead of the UK. This means the race will start at 2am Saturday morning, finishing at the same time on Sunday. There will be online results posted live throughout the race at www.onlineresults.com.au and Nia will be updating my Twitter (@mattpage24) and Facebook accounts throughout the race.
I owe a massive thanks to all my sponsors for getting me this far. Pivot, both USA, UK and Australia have been fantastic. TORQ UK and Australia have also worked together to make sure I have all the energy products I need, including the 50 or so gels that I estimate to be consuming and countless litres of energy drink as the forecast is dry and hot during the day, but very cold overnight. 30 degrees down to 0 is not uncommon, which is a big temperature swing.
Big thanks to all my sponsors:
Pivot, A Cycling, Exposure Lights, Schwalbe, RapidRacerProducts, Garmin, RWD, Small Batch Coffee, Fizik and Lezyne. Also supporters, LOOK, GORE Bike Wear, Loco Tuning and Ergon.