With the 2012 SRAM Singletrack Mind Series heading towards an exciting conclusion the penultimate round at Rydal would prove to be popular as teams and soloists sought to improve or consolidate their ranking in the Series.
The practice day saw perfect conditions at the venue but the clouds gathered during the night and while it stayed dry, riders awoke to decidedly grey and chilly start. Good conditions to be on the bike but teammates, waiting in transition were adorned with a variety of blankets and jackets before tagging their incoming rider.
After sitting out the previous round due to injury, in the Solo Male category Canberra’s Ed McDonald was raring to get one back on long time training buddy but race rival Andrew Hall who was still recovering after a hard fought third place at the Australian 24 hour MTB Championships. The two riders plus Aaron Thomson were inseparable for the first 4 hours of the race but as the sun came out the battle also warmed up as McDonald attacked and Series leader Hall was left to ask his legs if they could respond. With the gap opening up the answer was “not really” and probably followed by his response of “shut up legs”, but he kept Thompson at bay to consolidate his Series lead with 2nd place.
The women’s solo category was a locals grudge match between Series leader Janet Martin and 2010 Series winner Kate Heynes, both of Orange. Martin was first after the opening lap but Heynes singletrack skills gave her the edge and the lead through laps 2 to 5. Martin’s consistent laps brought her back the lead to take the win. The masters women saw another win from Libby Adamson and the male masters also featured another dominating ride from Garry James.
Reassuring us that the future of the sport is looking healthy, there was a great turn out from the Junior teams. The Alltrack Juniors looked to be on a flyer leading for the first two laps but as they have done all season the Young Guns put in very consistent laps to claw back the lead. The Highland Smashers also put in a solid ride to take 2nd. The other large team categories featured repeat wins from the BG Three in Mixed, HORCCules vs The Chocolate Footed Monster again victorious in the Masters Threes, and Powered by Cadbury powered to another win in the Women’s Threes. The Male Threes has become the “industry” category as bike wholesalers and bike shops battle for bragging rights. The ultra-consistent Stevens Bikes team lead all day from the Ashfield Cycles Trio and Velosophy Racing rode half the event with only two riders, latecomer Luke Beuchat was put to work in the afternoon with a succession of double laps.
The Pairs categories were far from predictable this round, the Masters saw a breakthrough win for the Elderly Illegitimates. The Female pairs featured London Olympian Bronwyn Watson, after years of literally going backwards in a rowing scull, she’s seen the light and is adapting her athletic prowess to mountain biking. It was Watson’s first ever MTB race and she looks to have a solid future in the sport as she and teammate Philippa Southey won the category.
After a performance plagued by injury in the previous round, it was a return to form for the BikeCulture/Whyte racing duo in the Male Pairs, winning by a lap to the Fly 8 team. Mixed Pairs was full of surprises, the podium was a reverse to what has been seen for most of the season as the normally dominating Bike Culture team’s Brooke Rowlands was carrying an ankle injury. Despite that they held the lead for nearly half the race until they were overtaken by an in-form Ria Johansen and Sebastien Dunne. They looked to have it in the bag until a puncture on their 3rd last lap saw Dunne lose over 10 minutes, presenting an opportunity for the team of Super Stoked to assume the lead. They held the advantage to the end and needless to say they were “Super Stoked” with the result!
Despite the tight and twisty nature of the track, riders heaped praise on Central Tablelands MTB Club, the builders and guardians of the Rydal course. As many would learn throughout the day, it’s a course that requires a different approach, some saying “you need to ride it slower to go faster”, the course rewarding those with flow rather than power.
The 2012 SRAM Singletrack Mind Series is set to come to an exciting conclusion at the singletrack oasis that is Awaba MTB park near Newcastle on 25 November.
For more information and full results see: chocolatefoot.com.au