Sunday, April 1, 2018

WSMTB XC Series Round 1 2018

The first round of the Series took us to the familiar setting of Yarramundi, nestled at the base of the Blue Mountains in NSW. Sound recognisable? Well it was almost what I was reading word for word just the other day before our own Round 1 of the WSMTB XC Series. It continued, “the venue, which is now a familiar stop for the New South Welshmen amongst us, hosting its second national round in as many years”. Wait, hold on a minute, Yarramundi is a national series trail in past history?

We were flipping through a 2006 mountain bike magazine last week before our first round and stumbled across Aiden Lefmann’s (of RLC Sport and Cyclinic) words. A classic tale of persistence and adversity, quite easily re-invented for our most recent event. Take out the solid shredder names from yester-year, inset our newest bunch of shredders and you have yourself a race wrap-up.

After racing at WSMTB’s Yarramundi XC trails for over 8 years now, “it was no surprise to find myself lining up for yet another traditional Yarramundi race, this time”, (Lefmann added, with the added prestige of a national round) as round one of the 2018 Series. “A strong showing of competitors from all over…” Sydney ”… lined up for the series opener. With numbers up in all categories, it shows that there is still plenty of depth in the Olympic format style of XC racing”.

“The Yarramundi course treats you to some super fast, but dray and sandy racing, with very few opportunities to get the climbing legs out to play. The course follows several kilometres of fast but also twisty single-track with the odd section of fire road for the passing manoeuvres to take place”.

Lefmann goes on to call out the good depth of talent on the day, Flemming (formerly Clarence St Cyclery), Taberlay (formerly Avanti) and Cooper (formerly Scott/Ritchey), just to name a few. Like wise we could do the same, Gordon, Green, Brame and Dinham. Names, all becoming synonymous with some fast riding at National level.

We get underway, A Grade, and it wasn’t long before our regular front-runners start putting the hurt on anyone near the pointy end. We had managed to pull in behind BigDog and were attempting to hold the furious pace the guys were producing. Through the trees behind us were our team mates, Browny and Troy, it was going to be important to maintain this XC pace, not letting the endurance team specialists get one up on us.

WSMTB regulars Ludenia, Steve and Ian eventually catch me and there is no contest. Who does catch and we tussle for a couple of laps is Jamie Anderson. Eventually Jamie seems to succumb to his own pressure of pace, we gain a placing, dropping Jamie somewhere amongst the trees and holding it to the finish line.

It was a massive first round for all grades and we had seventeen riders registered for A Grade. WSMTB had altered the trail for the round, making it shorter and perhaps a little more fun. Our team mates Browny and Troy held steady to place further down the order.

We can only envisage the duelling pair of Dinham and Brame at the front of the race were having some form of showdown. In Lefmann’s write-up of 2006 it was Cooper V’s Flemming coming out of the single track for the 150m sprint to the line. Lefmann, digging deep in the last few kilometres had held on with Cooper making the attack to reel back Flemming. In a flurry of pedal strokes and a spray of stones, in that last 100m, Lefmann came from behind taking the win. In 2018 Brame takes it at our local clubby level from Dinham.

JetBlack MTB Racing continues to be partnered with The Odd Spoke, Natural Balance, Rocky Trail Entertainment and AMB. Which allows us to ride how we like! You'll see us at another event shortly!
Full results from WSMTB here.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

SuperFlow Stomlo

We were excited to return to gravity based racing this year. 2012-13 were both successful years for us with a Series win followed by a Series fifth place in what was becoming the most fun timed style event for everyone!

Stromlo still holds a special place in our mountain biking destination list. Our first solo 24 probably set it all off, now we were returning for RockyTrail Entertainment's SuperFlow Series. The series has gone through a few name changes but has been drawing an ever-increasing crowd of followers since its inception.

We were on the Hume early, a pickup along the way, fellow JetBlack MTB racer Kurt. At Stromlo the crew met the rest of the team, then a whole heap of other riders we knew from our variety of riding. Yep, SuperFlow is for everyone!

A quick rego for number plates, GU and a bottle, then race director, Martin, was on the mic delivering his pre-race brief to the 400 odd riders in attendance. We had a couple of hours to chill and sus the trails for today's timed sections, so it was on bike and for a spin up the hill.

We weren’t at Stromlo for the climbing though, the SuperFlow's aim: to bomb down the timed sections, in the shortest time possible. We sessioned the more-fun flowing trails first, then the short-rocky-to-open-sprint trail, to finish.

A clear sky had brought a cool start to the day but with the sun now high in the sky it warmed up fast, seriously fast, and racing was due to start at 11am sharp. With fresh and full RTE bottles we headed up the mountain to join fellow racers for the short social wait to get the first race run underway.

Race runs were in the following order, Stan’s (Double D, Pork Barrell). This trail is one of our favourite combinations having ridden it recently on a Pivot 5.5. Bringing our hardtail this time sure set a challenge for us!

Then it was onto Fox (Skyline, Luge), a bottle refill, then back to Stan’s. Who doesn't love these trails! Finally we headed over to JetBlack (Little Seymour). On completion of this it was pretty hot, well over thirty degrees, time for another break. Lunch. Food. Rest. Recovery. More fluids. Sunscreen!

Given the run we had on JetBlack, there was probably more to be had, time to be lost. We went out for one more run at it. A good thing too, a better run resulted in a shorter time, whoop! Nailed it. Now it was time to rest.

Turns out local elite rider James Downing had brought some of his clan to race too, bulking out the category. It was fun to find a fellow hardtail rider out zipping along the trails. James took the win easily while we nudged out the competition, taking 2nd. Pretty chuffed with the result and a whole heap of fun was had.

This 2018 season is a huge six round series plus a championships, so there is plenty of SuperFlow still to come and we might see you there!

JetBlack MTB Racing continues to be partnered with The Odd Spoke, Natural Balance, Rocky Trail Entertainment and AMB. Which allows us to ride how we like! You'll see us at another event shortly!

Full results here.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Muddy Trails of Glenrock

Welcome back! It's 2018 and the racing season kicked off with Rocky Trail Entertainment's Grand Prix Round 1 at Glenrock, within the city of Newcastle. This is not the first time Rocky Trail have used the Glenrock trails, previous blogs here 20172016. The lushly forested, well defined trails are always a hit with riders. A huge range surfaces were on offer this year with an overnight storm. The initial single track was particularly muddy, which transitioned into a dry, if not a little dusty section as well!

After placing on the GC Series podium the last three years running, we're back to do it again, racing with the JetBlack MTB team. It isn't going to come easy though, a quick scour of the Glenrock lineup  and particular our category was brimming with suitably fast names. Martin, head honcho of RTE, got us started well down the main access fire-trail, much further than previous years. With over 300 riders attending, this was one of the biggest GPs EVER! As per usual it was going to be important to be in the first group come the singletrack, a good early position to start from.

It was a hectic start but the open fire trail was suitably long enough to place on the back of the front group. Conditions on this first lap were slick but manageable in the rainforest section, most of the remaining trail was grippy if not dry. Eventually we found the wheel of team mate Michael Brown, which helped maintain pace and consistency. For some though these first few laps saw more action than they would have liked, a couple of local lads in separate encounters were off the bike, one with a broken frame, the other a possible collar-bone.

From gnarly downhill sections to the granny gear switchback climbs Glenrock has it all. RTE chose to remove some of the climbing from yesteryear, in place a smooth fire-trail back to transition. Everything was working well, our Pivot 429 had a service during the week, with the rear shock getting much of the attention. Slickonium grease from DIYMTB had the shock working a treat, evening out the trail. We have also been running our own nutrition over the last couple of years, finding what works for us. You can check out some of our previous reviews here. Anyway, it felt like we got our nutrition right again this round using High 5 products. Thanks to our team mates and family for the bottle hand-offs.

Over fifty JetBlack MTB Racing team riders were at Glenrock, providing a friendly atmosphere for all. It is great to have on-trail moral support and the transition expertise of a large team. JetBlack MTB Racing continues to be partnered with The Odd Spoke, Natural Balance and Rocky Trail Entertainment. Which allows us to ride how we like! In the results the team was well represented across all categories and delivered some top results for this event, good signs for 2018 and the GP Series. You'll see us at another event shortly!

Full results here.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

2017 National Cycling Carnival - Part 1

An early morning commute from Sydney had me arrive for the Opening address and Safety Brief at the velodrome. There was quite a bit happening, people arriving, bikes in and out of the velodrome and the offer of MTB setup/maintenance tips by members. The local velodrome experts were actively fitting bikes, albeit SS, brakeless, ultra-narrow type bikes and there was also amass of bunting featured both within the velodrome and out, looking like a tidy CX course.

I managed to get out on a track bike but didn’t spend too long on it, yes it felt weirdly narrow and never got “on-top” of the gearing provided.

More importantly after a solid year of CX racing I was keen to look over the technical aspects of the days course at “The Bundahdome”. Having never visited this location previously, I was surprised at the steepness of the marked course on the outside of the velodrome, this technical aspect of the course would be a clincher for many competitors. The off-camber slopes had me drop both front and rear 35mm tyre pressure a couple of psi to find more of the grip I was wanting.

Photo: N. Burton
Unsure of how the week was going to roll, I elected to race age group rather than open/elite for CX. Sus out the competition, have a bit of fun on the first day. Jamie Burton was back again this year, and Ty Domin was present, it was us three that headed onto the course in front of the remainder of the age-groupers, once the young-guns and elites had started. The course had a variety of sweeping corners, the usual CX style, a couple of barriers and a run up the flattest section of the velodrome before turning right and making way along the top of the velodrome. Some off-camber and short pinches later we headed around to the steep outside section of the velodrome. It got pretty interesting here, with switchbacks and well-off-camber traverses across the steep and loose course.

Early on in the event I came through a sweeping off-camber grassed corner and the bike fell-out from beneath me, picking myself up off the grass slightly startled I remounted having only dropped a couple of places. On the next couple of corners I figured out what the problem was, a lack of air in the front tyre, the bike was oversteering generally and washing-out when pushed. This lack of air issue would only make this CX event more challenging.

Jamie working hard to keep up. Photo: N. Burton
A couple of laps later we dropped Ty, after all he did have the wrong gear for 90% of the time, not that we had the right gear either. Jamie and I were duelling throughout the course, quite often swapping the lead. On the final lap just before the second last fast section I dropped a chain and had to dismount to rectify the issue. Fighting hard through the tough off-camber traverses, past lines of the DH heckling crew who seemed to be in full support of skinny wheels doing amazing things on dirt, I pushed a last ditch effort to make time back to Jamie, my front wheel battling me all the way.

Jamie and I didn’t quite make up time to the front runner in the elite/young guns category but we had our first contest for this year’s NCC. Both of us winning our respective age categories, with Jamie pipping me by seconds for line honours.
The hecklers, cowbells and horns, for atmosphere. Photo: N. Burton
What has been great over the previous NCC is the availability of skills coaches or serious riders will to show/demo techniques for all to gain from. This year was a step-up from previous that I have attended with the addition of locals Dylan Cooper and Claire Whiteman for the XC crowd. Fastline Bikadamy was on hand for the Gravity/DH crowd again this year. I participated in both a Gravity and a XC skills session, first with MTBA National DH Junior Coach Indi Boer of Fastline Bikadamy, then in the afternoon with Trek rider Dylan Cooper of Ride Technics. I find as an experienced rider there is still plenty to take away from any skill session, and for me it wasn’t till the following day the lightbulb clicked on to what I had just experienced and gained from both sessions.
Stunt rider Indi Boer, Photo: CrummMTB

Monday, September 4, 2017

Stolling on Stromlo

There is no doubt we have a thing for Stromlo, it probably all kicked off ten years ago with our first attempt at 24hrs solo. Over the last ten years the mountain has taken shape, from bare dust bowl to an all inclusive cycling hotspot. We still visit Stromlo on a regular basis, albeit once or twice a year, for an event or two.

It is our first outing to Stromlo this year and much has changed, the houses and units are now verging in the parks fence-line, and the hillside shrubbery seems more dense. Again we are back for another round of the Rocky Trail Entertainment Grand Prix Series, the final round for 2017.

With so many kilometres of trails and a variety of ways to gat around there had been much talk of the chosen route. No matter what, our experience told us there were gong to be rocks and the standard hard-pack of Stromlo dirt. This time Rocky Trail had setup a different event centre, in the carpark and transition from the trails was via the path to the jump-park. We then exited back out onto the trails by going through the tunnel under the DH track.

It has been another massive year with the JetBlack MTB Racing team and like all the Grand Prix's previous this year, we were going to litter the hillside with our bright stripes. Things were heating up too in the GC and Age Group/Team stakes for many, as this was the last chance to gather valuable points before the afternoons presentation. We were all excited to get out on the trails!

Rocky Trail continue to move forward from lessons learnt, and this year they had thrown in some significant fire-trail climbs. This allowed plenty of passing opportunities, nutrition ingestion and particularly open the field up off the start, reducing the first lap or two of conga lines during the single track sections. 

It was a heck of a line-up this round, the JetBlack MTB racing team had brought our own guns but what ever the lure, there were a number of national representatives present. And as such the start was pretty fast, we managed a number of snappy laps before settling into a comfortable pace.

Super happy to continue to ride our Pivot 429 Alloy, it has been dependable baring our poor maintenance routine prior to the Singleton round. Our change last year to Shimano's XT 11 speed with a 30t Hope N/W cog has been the the perfect drivetrain for just about every event we have ridden this bike. (We'll talk about our CX steed another time.) We are also touting Ascent Cycling Enterprises wheels, switching from Stan's alloy rims to Nextie carbon wrapped in Mitas tyres. With Ascent Cycling Enterprises now being based out of the greater Canberra region.

There were no surprises on the day that the 30-39 age category was the most competitive in the 4hr. This amass of speed-freaks has been a constant for every round of the Grand Prix this year, and this round we were pretty happy to place 7th. The particularly good news was that we had sufficient points in the series to take both 2nd in our Age Group AND 2nd for the General Classification. A definite step-up from both results in both 2016 and 2015. 

Rocky Trail Entertainment delivered a diverse repertoire of course for the Grand Prix this year. Many thanks to JetBlack MTB Racing team for the friendly atmosphere, on-trail support and transition expertise. JetBlack MTB Racing has partnered with The Odd Spoke, Natural Balance and Rocky Trail Entertainment, to allow us to ride how we like. The team was well represented across all categories and delivered some top results for this event and the series. You'll see us at another event shortly!

Full results for this Round here.

Our previous event wraps.