Big Smiles, Big Field and Tight Racing at the SRAM Singletrack Mind MTB Series in Nowra

Words by Chocolate Foot | Images by Dave Bateman

The weather has played a significant role in the SRAM Singletrack Mind series over the past year with the 2012 finale played out in sweltering conditions, the 2013 series opener also raced in the heat while the 2nd and 3rd rounds had to be rescheduled due to torrential rain.

Andrew Lloyd crests the flyover bridge during his battle with eventual winner Ed McDonald.

Andrew Lloyd crests the flyover bridge during his battle with eventual winner Ed McDonald.

 

Mother Nature again played her hand for the 2nd running of Round 2 at the Coondoo Rd course at Nowra, with strong westerly winds making for challenging conditions on course but more particularly in the event centre as riders and their supporters had to keep everything secured and pegged down against the gusty winds.

The wind only served to make the racing all the more tactical as riders tried to seek shelter behind others on some of the longer fire road sections, echelons of riders snaking across the dirt, like a scene from the Tour de France.

With a highly credentialed field of 420 riders entered, the racing was set to be hard and fast and straight off the start the rider with the hole shot was Luke Dale from the Bike Culture/Whyte Racing Mixed Pairs team, he was closely followed by riders in the Male Pairs and Male Threes categories from Target Trek and Onya Bike. The Alltrack Bicycles team featured a stacked roster including Jason Morgan, Troy Glennan and the legendary Matt Fleming. They took control of the Men’s Threes category early on and despite a pitched battle against the “Rad Shreddas” and Onya Bike, Matt Fleming put in a blistering final lap of 25min 9secs to take the category and overall wins.

Gary Harwood jams it into the big ring in pursuit of Luke Dale in the mixed pairs category.

Gary Harwood jams it into the big ring in pursuit of Luke Dale in the mixed pairs category.

With Canberra soon to host the World Solo 24 MTB World Championships, many riders in contention for the Worlds are using the SRAM Singletrack Mind Series as a significant step in their preparations. As such, the solo categories were stacked with talent and in the Masters Female solo category previous Series champion Wendy Stevenson was locked in a tight battle with previous Open Female Solo champion Janet Martin, the two exchanging the lead on multiple occasions until Martin pulled away in the closing laps. The Male Masters Solo also featured 2012 Series champion Garry James, fresh off racing the Trans-Alps, he was in fine form and led from the gun to beat David Langley and 2011 Series champion Phil Welch.

The category also featured many of the Clydesdale competitors and Round 2 featured a great battle between Cory Dimmer and Matt Cordery. Dimmer launched a late race attack to pass Cordery but with his natural advantage on the scales, Cordery would be declared the winner again once the lap count x weight sums had been made. Another “big” win for the Central West MTB club!

The Solo Elite categories featured familiar foes with Round 1 winner Eliza Kwan streaking to a comfortable lead over Liz Smith but Smith put down a set of extremely consistent lap times to reel in Kwan; the clock Smith’s enemy in the end as Kwan slipped into transition just before the 7 hour race time elapsed to score another lap on Smith. The category also saw a thrilling sprint finish between singlespeed competitors Bec Parkes and Erin Zimmer, Parkes holding on for the special category win by 1 second after 7 hours of racing!

Eliza Kwan smiling on her way to her 2nd win in succession in the SRAM Singletrack Mind Series.

Eliza Kwan smiling on her way to her 2nd win in succession in the SRAM Singletrack Mind Series.

The Solo Men category saw the lead change many times throughout the race, and 2012 Series champion Ed McDonald found himself on the back foot to Andrew Lloyd. By half race distance McDonald had re-found his flow and turned up the pace eventually beating Lloyd by a lap, he would also come 4th overall (across all categories) and cover just shy of 150km of fast and flowy singletrack in 7 hours and 20 minutes.

The most inspiring story of the race was from the many teams riding for the Short Circuit Cancer crew who raise funds for cancer research. Headed by brain tumour survivor Brent Collier, he and the many teams riding for SCC spread the word while racing hard as well. The crew racked up wins in the Female Pairs and the Mixed Pairs category, while Brent and his teammate Troy are winners no matter how you measure it!

Despite the constant dust storms blowing through the event centre, the quality of the course, including the new addition of a flyover bridge and figure-8 course configuration, made for a constant stream of dusty but beaming smiles!

A great result for young local rider Jake Whitton, 3rd in solo men against a world class field.

A great result for young local rider Jake Whitton, 3rd in solo men against a world class field.

Podium getters were rewarded with over $11,000 of cash and prizes from industry-leading Series sponsors SRAM, Rockshox, Avid, Truvativ, Hammer Nutrition, OnTheGo, Finish Line, Serfas, Deuter, Bellwether, James Estate, Cycology, Giant, Frameskin, Aussie Butt Cream, Mountain Biking Australia, Flow Mountain Bike, and organiser Chocolate Foot would like to thank Round 2 partners South Coast United Mountainbikers, Schick razors, and SITA Australia.

The third round of the SRAM Singletrack Mind series will be on 29 September at Awaba MTB Park near Newcastle.

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