A monster journey, but having never raced at Dalby and with another reason to be in the area, I was keen to test myself and the Anthem on a lumpy course.
Not the World Cup course, but a good test non the less. And with National champ Pete Harris here it was going to be fast. Climbing up the start of the red route it then returned to the Dalby Bike Barn area with a “cut down a steep bank” loamy descent that really tested your balls. Certainly some Nutcracking was going on for that section.
The start loop was straight up a fire road drag, it was just hovering above freezing with swirling snow showers. I didn’t fancy my chances, no real riding in the 2 weeks since the last race just to clear my chest cold I had no speed in me, and certainly not from cold.
As we crested the start climb I was pleased to find that leg power alone had kept me in about 7th place as the lead group ahead approached the 180 deg turn to take us back to the start arena. Pete showed all his experience and jumped round the group and took the fast jumpy flowing red descent first. As I tucked in behind the rest and literally cruised down it proved to be a shrewd act, he was out of sight immediately, oh well at least I got a good rest after the start.
I’d fully expected to be trounced on the climb, 400ft to the top and I tried to keep a mental check on the jersey colours ahead as they crept away from me. Once we hit the slow sticky wood section it was the now usual battle with traffic, but the anthem was flying and gaining time back on the fast starters very quickly. Then came the big drop, full on backside on the back tyre, let it roll slowly and hang on, brilliant. Fired out the bottom it was back to the fast red and this time I had a free run.
By the start of lap 3 I was back on a group of 3, they pulled away again up the climbs, but this time I had them in long range site. Once again skills overcame fitness on the downhill and I jumped past the gang of three, and buried myself flying on all the jumps down the final red loop. Into the arena it felt great to look back, I’d gained 3 corners of the hairpin to hairpin climb on them. Even if they re caught me I knew I could have them on the descent. But what position?
Final climb and I gave it everything, whooping to myself on the final berms, Pete was waiting on the line, informed me it was 3rd, brilliant, Such a relief that the whole race was more fun than pain, and that two weeks of inactivity hadn’t knocked me back to much.
Thumbs up for the Nutcracker series, brilliantly organised and some great prizes down to 5th for all the classes.
The season proper starts next Sunday, lets hope the weather allows it to be a true test of skill, rather than just a battle thought the slop.