Trenton's Mt Buller Race Report
After a 1:30am start and a 9 hour drive, Dad and I arrived at Mt Buller for the 2nd round of the 2012 National All Mountain Cup. The new format is run over 3 stages in 3 days, starting with a Super D stage, followed by a standard cross country olympic format race and finished off with a point to point ‘marathon’ style event. Over the course of the weekend, riders get times from each event and, like a road tour, riders with the least time at the end of the 3 events wins the final classification
Friday- Super D.
As a brief overview, Super D is an event which is mostly downhill, yet has obstacles which favour the use of a cross country or all mountain bike over a proper downhill bike. The Buller trail consisted of a 12km downhill, losing a total elevation of 850 vertical metres. The course had a number of short, sharp pinches, 12+ ‘ride through’ river crossings, hairpin corners, loose fireroad and mud sections along with some false flat and major river crossings. With the word being that there had already been a number of accidents, I was running on minimal sleep and was warned to take my two practice runs relatively steady until I knew the course and the obstacles I would be hitting at speed.
I arrived at the start line and was informed that the start order had been reversed at some time throughout the day. I was pretty annoyed about this as I would now be slipped in at the end of the junior Under 19 men. I was really keen for a good result so once the time trial countdown timer went off pretty hard with the aim of picking off riders one by one. I felt as though I was riding within myself in the rough terrain and gave it everything on the uphill pinches and flat sections. I was only held up once on one of the bridges where I had to wait for riders but was fairly certain I hadn’t lost too much time. I crossed the line and stopped the clock at 19min 47sec, first in under 23’s and being one of 3 riders in the whole event to crack the 20 minute mark. Second place Jack Haig was a further 31 seconds behind. Both Dad and I were pretty surprised considering the preparation but as I would find over the whole weekend, I think a lot of the credit went to my S-works Epic 29er which really soaked up a lot of the rough stuff!
Saturday- Cross Country Olympic
I made up on some lost sleep with a big sleep in on Saturday morning and got myself sorted for a 12pm kick off for the more recognised cross country olympic format race. The Under 23 men were starting a minute behind the elite men and completing 5 laps of a 5.1km circuit. Thanks to yesterdays performance, I would begin this stage with a 31 second advantage. I was starting from the second row on the start line but wasnt too worried thanks to a big start straight. The gun went and I was able to manouvre my way to the front and found myself sitting second wheel leading into the first single track section. I was following Search to Retains Luke Fetch who struck some bad luck puncturing in the first kilometer or so. Tyre choice was really important for this course as there was practically no sections that didnt have sharp rock coming from every direction! This also made line choices pretty important also. From this point on I was in the lead with Torq’s Jack Haig glued to my wheel. We stayed this way for most of the race, taking whole, 1 lap turns and opportunities to attack each other and try to break the other. We caught up to 5th in elite men and lapping times quite equal to 4th in elite. Unfortunately on the 5th lap I was following Jacks wheel and stupidly dropped the bike as I accellerated too fast out of a tight corner, in order to keep his pace. It was a silly mistake and something that cost me the race. It took me longer than i would have liked to get up also as both my feet were stuck, clipped into the pedals so as I was stressing and shaking them out of the pedals, I was watching Jack ride off up the fireroad towards the top of the decent. I chased as hard as I could but my efforts weren’t enough. Jack rode a really strong race and I finished 17 seconds down, leaving me with a 14 second advantage leading into Sunday’s stage three. I was pretty down on myself about the result as I knew I was riding within myself and was confident I had the legs to be further up there for the end result. My Specialized again, seemed to be the perfect bike for the job. I found that I could just sit down and drive it over all the rough stuff going up and as a dually, it destroyed the decents, making it seem so easy!
Sunday- Point to Point
The final stage was a 22km marathon race incorporating some of Mt Bullers most fun and famous trails including the hyped up “Stonefly”. In such a small distance, the course covered 800 metres of vertical climbing, making it quite a challenging race and certain to spread everyone out. With a dream start I was leading the race for around 3km until we hit the second section of singletrack where I heard the dreaded sound of a front wheel puncture. Losing around 4 and a half minutes I got going again before realising 1 CO2 canister wasnt enough pressure for my 29er wheel (bigger air volume). So again I had to stop, swap the canister head to my spare canister and try again. After another minute of fiddling around I got going again and was out with a vengence. From the beginning of the day I knew I had the ‘million dollar legs’ feeling so I was keen to do my best given the circumstances. The hard thing was that I was passed by the Junior U19 men and also a number of the elite women. There was a lot of traffic and I did my best to negotiate my way through as fast as I could. I moved through all the juniors again and back into the elite riders. With 2km to go I could see 3rd placed under 23 rider Robbie Hucker up ahead and dug deep to try and catch him. I was hurting pretty bad and crossed the line 4 seconds behind Robbie and 4 min 25sec off Jack Haig’s winning time of 1hr 26:36. I finished in a total time of 1hr 31:01, but with the auto stop feature on my Garmin, which would have cut out the time taken to change the flat, it stopped at 1hr 27sec on the dot which included a tonne of traffic! I knew I was feeling really good on the day so it was just really frustrating that I had to lose the overall lead this way when I was confident I could have contested for the win. Again, credit to Jack who had a superb ride to take the overall. Again it goes without saying, the S-works was a phenomenal ride.
Overall I finished in 2nd position on the final Under 23 classification. Looking forward to Stromlo! Thanks goes to the team at Drift Bikes for sorting me out with last minute tyres and all my other bike related needs for the race!