UCI Junior World Series – World Cup #3 and #4 REECE TUCKNOTT

It was an unusual feeling going on my first trip to Europe and not having my parents at the airport to send me off or wish me luck but it was nice having our good neighbour Dean drop me off and say goodbye. My parents were in fact both down in Dwellingup getting ready for the Trek D50 Duo which was run as a fundraiser to send me to Europe and by all accounts it was a great event that I wish I could have been a part of!

After a full two days of travel we arrived at our accommodation in the Czech Republic, well 7 of us did with Jayden meeting us at a later date. We were greeted by enough food to be dinner and the next morning’s breakfast along with the two lovely house owners who made us feel very welcome. It was hard going to a country that has a very limited English speaking population but this was all part of the experience, especially trying to food shop and pay in a currency where coins range from 1 – 70 Czech Koruna, let alone their notes system.

We spent a lot of time riding around the local towns but also a few days practicing the course at Nove Mesto Na Morave. It was a big eye opener driving through all the towns and amazing scenery on the way to the course, but once we arrived at the course our jaws dropped. The set up of a World Cup is so much bigger and more spectacular than it ever looks on RedBull.tv or even in photos and the atmosphere was growing in size every day. The course was very technical and demanding with lots of pedaling and not a lot of rest, which led to a very tough race both physically and tactically with so many riders fronting up to the start line.

The start of the race was the craziest thing that I have ever experienced, with a full grandstand, 118 riders and start line music that increased your heart rate to no less than 200BPM it was hard to actually concentrate on the gun. With lots of pushing and shoving I managed to hold Top 20 for the start and through the start loop where I then tried settling into my rhythm. The damp roots from the previous night’s rain offered a surface like ice that brought a lot of riders unstuck but made for a very challenging and rewarding race. I battled with a lot of riders on the day and came home strong finishing up in 13th place which I was very happy with considering this was my first World Cup race. I think the biggest thing to come out of this race was how insane the spectators were! Cheering methods ranged from screaming and yelling through to old Air Raid Horns from the war; it was such a G up and really got you going, along with the support of the fellow Aussie competitors and staff.

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After soaking up the atmosphere and battling 30,000 strong crowds on the Sunday during the Elite race it was time for us to leave the Czech Republic and drive to our accommodation in Germany. The 700km journey took up the majority of our Monday but our saving grace was JZ’s beat box, which was cranking all the bangers and inspiring some interesting dance moves. We drove through the heaviest rainstorm I have experienced only to pop out into blue skies and stunning scenery, but this scenery is standard issue for all of Europe!

A course walk was in order for the course in Albstadt and we quickly figured out that RedBull.tv, once again, doesn’t do justice for how steep this course really is. The climbing was super steep, with lots of it and the descending was steep, super slippery and short lived. We knew that this was going to be a much harder race than Czech and oh boy did it prove to be. A half decent start put me into 13th going into the climb after hitting a max speed of 49km/h in the start straight and smashing through the dual feed zone situated on the grass oval above the start/finish. I started to move up a position or two with a few laps to go with my pace building, my climbing legs going well and I was descending strong while being in some serious oxygen debt.

I had a Top 10 finish in my sights but unfortunately my legs just didn’t have it in them for the final lap of the race with 9th, 10th and 11th riding away from me on the final two climbs. I was able to hold my position and finish 12th out of 125 starters, not the result I was hoping for but still a strong result in such a quality field.

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I spent the Sunday watching the Elite’s race from the top of the Downhill course while doing DH runs with Felix and JZ. The Bike Park Albstadt have a rad set up going with a T bar lift and 3 downhill runs situated almost right in the middle of town. It was disappointing knowing this was our last day riding in Europe for this trip but at the same time we were having so much fun the thought didn’t cross our minds twice.

Throughout the trip I had the awesome support of legendary bottle feeder Peter Dowse, who also doesn’t take a bad photo or two. The team also had the support of mechanic and top bloke Jarrod Zdralka, Assistant coach Greg Meyland and no one will forget our German Chef Ullrich who cooked the most amazing meals every night. I would also like to thank Adam Morka and Richard Peil for their constant guidance and support, it is greatly appreciated!

I would go back to Europe any day to not only race but to also enjoy the scenery. I am now keener than ever for World Champs later in the year and I hope to return to Europe in years to come.

Thank you to everyone for your help and support not only for this trip but for everything else you have done, it is greatly appreciated. I am off to Canberra in two weeks for Road Nationals and then up to Cairns for a team camp with the lads so watch this space for some updates about my whereabouts and results!

Oh and by the way, check out where we day tripped to in Zurich before catching our flight home. The place was insanely rad and a guy was nice enough to let us borrow his bike to have a dig, put it on your bucket list along with the skate park next door!

http://www.pinkbike.com/news/Video-Tour-de-Pump-in-Zurich-Switzerland-2013.html

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State XC Round #1 Double Header, Pemberton, WA, 4 May, 2013

Reece Tucknott – U19, Perth, Western Australia.

After returning from my trip to Tassie and doing a few days of school work it was time to head down to Pemberton for the first round of the State Cross Country Series. It was a good feeling to know that I was going to be back on the MTB for some racing after a series of events on the road. Out of all the race venues in Perth it was definitely a bonus having the first event down at Pemberton where both trails are utilized in a two race event format.

50mm of rain fell in the Manjimup and Pemberton region on Thursday turning what was powder only a few months ago to hard, smooth hero dirt; the kind of dirt that Perth riders rarely experience. 4 laps on Friday after the drive down had my legs freshened up and ready to race the high quality Elite field that was registered for the next afternoons events. The recent addition of a pump track to the Pemberton MTB Park is awesome to ride but definitely offers a work out and I had to be careful not to wear myself out while cutting laps on Friday afternoon.

It can be said that the Race #1 course is suited more to the power riders by using the fire road climb rather than ‘Hell Mile’. Road race tactics came into play between Craig Cooke and the two Wembley boys, Dave Nairn and myself, with all three of us swapping lead of the race at least once. Craig had his strengths on the climb which was evident early in the race while Dave and I had the advantage on the descent. With one lap to go, out of the four lap race, Craig had a bit of a front wheel washout allowing me to grab the lead before the climb. I upped the pace a little on the first part of the climb but knew that the fury was still to come. Approaching lap traffic on the fire road added to the already intense pace set by both Craig and I. Craig was attacking me from every angle and I was struggling to hold him off but I managed to stay in front when we hit the single track. Easing the pace a little so that the vomit could reside back in my stomach, which was appreciated by Craig who admitted during the post race interview that he felt the same way, lead us to the descent. I felt like this was the fastest I had ever gone down the Relentless Blue descent and I was loving it, pulling a gap on Craig and holding it through to the finish line.

After a refuel and kit change it was time to line up for Race #2 which was to be a much more technical utilizing ‘Hell Mile’, a 1.6km long singletrack ascent. Dave Nairn was off to a flying start and grabbed the lead as soon as the words “go” came out of Dad’s race director mouth. With his smooth riding style Dave snatched an early gap going into ‘Hell Mile’ that I was unable to close for the rest of the race. Holding off a hard charging Jon Gregg on lap 2 I maintained 2nd place for the race and held onto 1st overall for the weekend with Dave Nairn snatching 2nd off Craig Cooke who had a few difficulties in Race #2 finishing 3rd overall. I was stoked with my first Elite win on the MTB and I hope that the tough battles can continue throughout the rest of the season.

The video features me at 0:48 (Start of Race 2, 3rd wheel), 2:26-2:36 (Finish of Race 1). [Courtesy of Troy and Kasey Smith]

Dad is running a junior development camp in Pemberton in July and I am really looking forward to getting back there for a few more laps.

I would also like to thank John Carney and the boys from Wembley’s, Specialized Bikes, Troy from Shimano, Dion from “4 Shaw” and Adidas Eyewear, Big Daz from “Shotz” for their help, and Adrian for setting up the Wembley Cycles Delta Team.

Tour of Mersey, Ulverstone, Tasmania, 26-28 April, 2013

Reece Tucknott – U19, Perth, Western Australia.

This trip was a little different to the other trips east that I have gone on this year, mainly because it was on a road bike and not a mountain bike. The other difference being is that dad didn’t travel with me, while travelling by myself is good and I like being self-sufficient, but having the moral support from dad is a big bonus.

I did however travel in a group with 2 parents, a coach and 10 athletes, which created a good atmosphere within the accommodation. Flying to Tasmania is always a reasonable effort for anyone but especially coming from Western Australia. Losing a day to travel on Tuesday from flights through to car trips we were only able to build our bikes before it got dark. Stacey Riedal (our guest from South Aus) and I shared the van with Darryl travelling up to Launceston, which was quite an experience to say the least.

To our surprise the first ride on Wednesday morning wasn’t as cold as we had expected and the nice weather led us to go for a 90km recon ride over Gunns Plains and the Time Trial (TT) course. If you are ever told that Tassie doesn’t have steep climbs, only long, you should call bullshit because when your Garmin says 30% gradient you are going up a solid berg. Bullshit is the name of the card game we came accustom to playing during our boredom at our very basic accommodation in which you shout bullshit if a player is lying. On the note of accommodation, the dorm style rooms were good for accommodating our bikes and clothes but the kitchen situation was a little inconvenient. A big thank you went out to Sue McRedmond and Cathy Mawby who went above and beyond to cook and supply food for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner majority of days that we were there. They were awesome.

After TT recon and efforts on Friday it was time to insert the race wheels and give the bike the final tune up, borrowing a rear disk from Darryl made my Specialized Tarmac Pro SL4 look slick with its lack of bottle cages and super low setup. As usual the coast road put on a good show with a strong head wind on the way out and a super quick tail wind on the way back in. I felt like I had a good ride but could only put myself into 19th position, however taking into consideration that the top 20 were within one minute of each other I wasn’t too gutted.

The race organisation and national selectors made the decision to not class the U19 event as a “tour” but instead made it three separate selection races. Therefore I had nothing to lose during the first road race out at Sheffield, not going with the early break however turned out to be a bit of a mistake. Not positioning well on lap two led to a big chase after the climb along with fellow MTB riders Ben Bradley and Scott Bowden. Re-joining the peloton before the descent allowed a bit of a rest before I went off the front with two other WA riders, Jai Hindley and Blake Smith. This was after a controversial stop during the race where the peloton had to wait for a train to cross the road. This allowed the
two lead riders to gain an extra minute on our chasing bunch. Our little escape was short lived being caught at the top of the climb by an extra five riders making a bunch of 9. Miscommunication and team tactics led to the downfall of the chasing bunch causing a re-group and smash fest up the last three bergs where I couldn’t quite hold the main group rolling through in 21st out of 59 starters with one of the breakaway riders staying away for the win.

Recovering from feeling completely spent is a hard task but a task that I have become accustomed to from my efforts at Tour de Perth and also the National MTB races throughout the start of this year. Day three was the big day heading through Gunns Plains, being very aggressive at the start was going well for me but nothing was working out. Going to sit mid-bunch for a slight recovery was a fatal mistake as it was at this point that the breakaway group road off the front. With majority of states having a representative in the break it suddenly became a very negative race.

I figured I might as well use it as a training day and started to roll turns on the front with Ben Bradley and Gerald Evans. Making no headway into the time gap of the lead group I figured I would go and save it for Gunns Plains where I knew it would get turned on. Having a rad descent before the climb allowed me to pass numerous riders and put a smile on my dial. The block wind before Gunns took it straight back off however and then Gunns itself just added salt to the wound. I soul searched however and was able to stay in contact with the peloton, or what was left of it with two groups of breakaway riders up the road. A big chase effort from Jackson Mawby and Theo Yates brought another group on to the back of our group with around 10kms to go leading to a bunch kick in which I was lucky to hold onto, placing in 28th for the day. I was disappointed with the actual result on paper but was super happy with how I rode and what I did during the stage.

It was now time to pack up our bikes, but not before a shower, which was quite possibly the best shower I have ever had! Packing my bike was a quick job and once everyone had finished and the van was packed ready for the morning it was time for a well deserved feed with a McFlurry afterwards. Not many final night shenanigans happened as everyone was pretty smashed although a few rounds of Bullshit were completed.

A relatively quick car ride back to Launceston gave us a long wait at the airport and with a quick transfer in Melbourne I was home by 3pm on Monday afternoon. I was fortunate enough to fly Qantas on the way back, using my credit from Track Nationals (of which I was unable to attend due to my collarbone); along with Tim Sellar and Sue McRedmond and avoiding the 5 hour delay the others received due to mechanical issues flying Virgin.

A big thank you goes out to Darryl Benson for all his hard work as a coach and for organizing the logistics of this trip, it is much appreciated. I would also like to thank John Carney and the boys from Wembley’s, Specialized Bikes, Troy from Shimano, Dion from “4 Shaw” and Adidas Eyewear, and Big Daz from “Shotz” for their help.

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WA riders, Sam, Blake and Lawson at the top of Gunns Plains on the Wednesday before the races started. (photo by Reece Tucknott)

Woodside Tour de Perth, NRS #1, Perth, Western Australia, 11th – 14th April, 2013.

The Ferry departed at 4pm from Rous Head in Fremantle bound for Rottnest Island on Wednesday 10th April and the ferry was at maximum capacity. The bikes that were still boxed up or had been put in boxes were put on the back of the ferry and the naked bikes were placed up the front inside, which wasn’t the case on the way back on Friday afternoon. With 140 riders plus team staff and crew on the boat the excitement was building for the start of the 2013 Woodside Tour de Perth which was to start at 11am on the Thursday morning.

The Rottnest Lodge supplied a buffet dinner on the Wednesday night for all the teams and unfortunately I don’t think they knew just how much cyclists eat for dinner because a massive food shortage occurred after not even half the group had eaten their first servings. None the less we survived that night and I had my own food that I brought for breakfast and lunch so making sure I got sufficient breakfast on Thursday and Friday morning wasn’t an issue.

Being the first round of the NRS season everyone was nervous as to how the racing was going to go which I had a feeling might not be a good thing on the narrow roads of Rottnest. Everyone seemed to have the same idea during the first lap which caused 100 riders fighting for the front 20 spots hence causing multiple crashes in the first 5kms or so, of which I was caught behind one and had to chase back on but that didn’t pose too much of a problem in the big scheme of things. Once the nerves and anxious riding was out of the way it started to rain for a bit, although the pace didn’t drop and we maintained the 45km/h average for the 80km race. As the race was mainly a bunch kick at the end the team organisation started to happen and I just fought through to stay near the front so that I could stay on bunch time when it came to the finish line, of which I did and finished 53rd for the stage. That night’s dinner was much better catered for which was good for me as I was definitely hungry even though I had filled up on rice and tuna earlier in the afternoon.

Waking up the next morning to constant rain was just depressing as the thought of doing an Individual Time Trial in the rain just isn’t cool; at least the conditions weren’t as bad as road nationals last year. The start was delayed half an hour due to one of the UCI Masters riders crashing heavily in their ITT and needing ambulance assistance on course. I was glad that I had taken my wind trainer across with me because it saved warming up on the road in the rain which was not a favoured option. The ITT was one lap of the previous day’s course with a slight deviation up through the centre of the lake rather than around. I wasn’t having a particularly strong day and didn’t place as high as I would have liked to and lost 3 minutes on the lead group, slipping to 59th or so GC. With a quick cool down and towel change it was time to pack up and hop back on the ferry for the trip back to Perth which, funnily enough, was smoother than the trip across even when the weather conditions appeared worse.

Saturday was the big day, and everyone knew it was going to be a big day where all the hard hitters would come out to play. Being held in my backyard I felt at home, as I live three kilometres away from the start line. The start wasn’t as nervous as Rottnest but was definitely edgy with a lot of people knowing what was coming up. What was coming up was 140kms with 2100m of climbing and a hill top finish with super-fast and technical descents which was seen with a couple of crashes and even a motorbike crash. Paul Van Der Ploeg’s crash was scary, with someone chopping his front wheel at 70km/h causing him to break his collarbone and lose all the skin on his back as well as nearly being run over by a marshalling motorbike that was passing at the time.

I was on an awesome day on the Saturday and for the first two laps was climbing with ease and making up spots on the descents. When it came to the third lap I knew it was crunch time and I made sure I went over the climbs with the lead group every time and was near the front on the descents. I was hurting big time coming up Ridge Hill Rd but knew that I only had to hold the group up the Zig Zag and it will be over. I have never climbed the Zig Zag so fast but I managed to hold on to get 21st out of a lead bunch of around 25 riders with the rest of the field getting shattered from the brutal pace set throughout the whole race. I was fried, crossing the line and getting cold shivers after pushing myself so hard to get the result, but I was super happy with how I performed and moving myself up to 21st GC at 3:45 down on the leader Joe Cooper from Huon Genesys. Checking my GPS, our group had a 41.2km/h average speed through the hills!

After pushing so hard on the Saturday I knew it would be difficult to back up on the Sunday around Perry Lakes. With 14 laps of an 8.5km relatively flat course I knew it would be a fast race and I was not feeling the best on the first few laps but knew I had to push through and try to start to feel better in the latter part of the race. With three laps to go the course changed slightly to go up the Reabold climb, which is relatively steep but treated like a sprint by the lead guys. I was struggling by the third lap (Lap 14) but was just holding onto the back of the bunch until we got to West Coast Hwy where my 52-14 restricted U19 gears just didn’t give me enough as the bunch was doing around 65-70km/h along the false flat. Chasing hard all the way was damage control to lose as little time as possible before we got to the finish line. In a bunch of 15 I rolled through around 20 seconds down however maintaining my 21st GC but losing a little more time to the winner Joe Cooper. My GPS said this stage had another ridiculously fast average speed of 44 km/h.

It was an awesome experience to race my first ever NRS and what an event to do it in, the Woodside Tour de Perth. I would like to say thank you to Matt Poyner and CiC Events for giving me the opportunity to ride for the Woodside Ledge composite team. Also a massive thank you to Darryl Benson for being team manager, going above and beyond his call of duty, and helping out with some wheels for the Time Trial. It was a huge experience to ride in such a big, talented and fast field and to have the support of a team made it just that little bit easier. So thank you again to those that helped get the Woodside Ledge team off the ground.

We are off to the Tout of Mersey in Tasmania on Tuesday 23rd April. Hopefully the Tour De Perth will have been a good lead in to this event………………………..I will keep you posted.

I would just like to thank John Carney and the boys from Wembley’s, Specialized Bikes, Troy from Shimano, Dion from “4 Shaw” and Adidas Eyewear, and Big Daz from “Shotz” for their help.

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In the hurt box on Stage 4 up Reabold

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Photo Courtesy of Julia Kalotas (Julia Kalotas Photography on Facebook)

Bright AMC to Oceania’s and Everything In-Between

All Mountain Cup 3, Bright, VIC, 15-17 March, 2013

Coming away from Nationals three weeks earlier I knew I had a lot to work on to improve my position within the highly competitive U19M XCO field. Within the two and a half week period before my flight I concentrated on my mtb skills and improving my fitness; especially my mental capacity to concentrate for close to an hour and a half at threshold. Hopping on the plane on Thursday morning I felt better prepared then I was at Canberra and knew that I could gain a few places within the field.

Thursday’s exploration ride led us to riding part of the Point 2 Point course to be raced on Sunday, which in my eyes and a few others was one of, if not the best part of the whole 27km course. Not having been in the Alpine region since Mt Buller the year before I was blown away by the scenery and outlooks that we saw just on the drive in to town, yet alone the parts we saw on the bike on Thursday!

Friday was the first day of racing consisting of the XCE (Eliminator), but first in line was some practice laps of the XCO course of which the steepness was a bit of a shock but none the less very good. Having sessioned a few different lines with Cam Ivory (On the Go Racing) it was time to head home and prepare for the Eliminator which was just across the river from our front door. Smashing out the Time Trial placed me 15th in Open Men allowing me to qualify for the knockout rounds which were quite interesting. Progressing through the quarter final using a few track racing tactics I was unable to progress through the semi final to the main final leaving me to race the small final in which I wasn’t able to roll Tristan to finish in 2nd place for U19 and 7th overall.

In the XCO on Saturday we had a mass start with Elite and U23M which was good experience but gave me a lot of work to do. I rode with Felix Smalley for the whole race battling for 4th but on the last lap he attacked me on the descent and I was unable to keep up being pushed back into 5th at the finish. Coming out on Sunday for the Point 2 Point I was pretty pumped after such a good result in the XCO. Especially compared to Canberra which gave me a good grid position in the mass start as I was up in third. Riding with Tasman Nankervis I was having a really good battle until I overcooked a corner and hit a tree losing Tas’ wheel and holding fourth for the rest of the race.

Both incidents happened on the descent which showed me that I still needed to work on my descending skills as my climbing had improved since Canberra but the descending hadn’t quite followed in the same footsteps. When reviewing the weekend during the car trip back to Melbourne with Dad and Jimmy on Sunday afternoon I felt very happy with the improvements I had made since Canberra but I knew there was still areas to improve on if I was to have a crack at the podium at Oceania’s.

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Oceania Championships, Hobart, TAS, 30-31 March, 2013

I had one and a half weeks to increase my descending speed to that of a downhiller (maybe not quite that fast, but not far off) which I believed was possible. On the Sunday before my flight I went and rode a loop we call Old Faithful with a focus on smashing the descents and I rode one of the more technical descents, what I believe, is the fastest I have ever ridden which installed some confidence as I knew that I was improving. I believe that one of the most important parts to improving your cycling is to recognise where there is a weakness and work on this rather then only training to your strengths, I mean, how will you get faster if there is always something holding you back?

Practicing the course on Thursday led me to believe that while the course was good I thought it could be harder, but as the weekend progressed I found that the degradation of the track was actually to the betterment of the course and I loved the powder on the descent! My favourite part of the course on the Thursday was a massive kicker that was towards the end of the lap, with an almost vert ramp to a steep trannie it was a perfect dirt jump but to my dismay the course officials bunted it off for the race.

UCI points were up for grabs at this event. We had a separate start from the Elite and U23M start which was good as it allowed me to have an even playing field when it came to the start. A strong start put me into 6th position, riding with Scott Bowden who was in 5th although he took off on the second lap and I knew I couldn’t sustain that pace for the rest of the race. Neither could Scotty, who also had some mechanical issues, which allowed me to start pulling time back on him. After he had a stopover in the Tech Zone I passed him on the fourth lap, only to be attacked on the single track climb. He was flying and I knew I had to stay with him and held his wheel until the top of the super steep fire road where he had a gear slip and I was able to get past where I put the pressure on.

At Bright I got attacked into the descent and lost a position by not being fast enough but this time I had the upper hand and was able to ride super smooth and super fast down the descent to put a gap into Scotty by the end which I maintained on the flat coming into the finish line. I was really happy with 5th position overall and 3rd Aussie over the line as it shows how with the right mind frame and lots of effort you are able to gain six spots and a few minutes over the course of 5 weeks.

While I may not have got a podium spot I was still extremely happy with how I performed and the close race that I had with Scotty. To wrap up an awesome weekend I went and rode the North South track after bowing out of the Eliminator. North South was rad, a 55 minute climb to the top with Ben Comfort where we met up with some kiwi’s and then a 35 minute descent back down. This is one of the best tracks I have ridden; definitely up there with Rotorua, New Zealand.

I would just like to thank John Carney and the boys from Wembley’s, Specialized Bikes, Troy from Shimano, Dion from “4 Shaw” and Adidas Eyewear, and Big Daz from “Shotz” for their help.

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What went down is on its way back up!

Reece Tucknott – U19, Perth, Western Australia.

Mountain Bike Nationals, Mt Stromlo, Canberra, ACT, 20-24 February, 2013

Being selected for Youth Olympics was a huge surprise but a massive honour at the same time. I was due to represent Australia on the Velodrome in Sydney on 18 – 20 January. I was super excited in the week leading up to the flight out to Sydney; however, this flight was never to have me aboard.

The Friday night before I was to fly out I was taken out on the Velodrome by another rider who swung up too early, not doing a turn in a breakaway we were in. There was nothing I could do to avoid the contact and ending up with a broken collarbone. It was a huge disappointment, like nothing I have felt before, and it gave me a lot of challenges that I had never faced before. I knew that I would miss Youth Olympics and Track Nationals but I had Mountain Bike Nationals 6 weeks ahead that I was determined to make.

Knowing I had to keep my fitness up wasn’t the problem; it was finding the motivation to do three weeks of ergo. Some days were a struggle, especially in the Perth heat, but I knew it had to be done if I was to be competitive at MTB Nationals. Another challenge was leaving what happens on the track on the track, and at the end of the day, that’s bike racing!

Lacking any MTB training or even riding before coming to Stromlo I knew I was in for something of a shock. But I was ready to learn the lines and try to bring back some of the skill and upper body strength I had lost. This process was highly accelerated thanks to Ben Henderson and Richard Peil from the Target Trek team who went out of their way to help me out which was rad.

Come the Teams Relay on Thursday I felt I had more to learn but it was a good test of the skills and pace so far. Saturday was U19M XCO day; I had a wicked start making it to the front of the field by the end of the tarmac from position 23.

To me, my skill level was going o.k. as I was clearing all my lines, however I wasn’t fast enough to stay with the big boys. On the fourth lap I faded bad mentally and lost contact with 7th & 8th, place as I simply haven’t concentrated that hard for that long for a long while.

Finishing in 9th left me happy considering where I have come from. I was also happy not to crash and to look after my shoulder. The racing taught me how important skills are, and the application of these skills under pressure. It also taught me how deep the talent pool is in Under 19’s and how much stronger some of the second year’s are.

The whole six week period has been interesting to say the least; going from winning the State U19 Individual Pursuit to not having the motivation to hop on an ergo in 38 degree heat, to building the self confidence back up to back yourself at a national champs on a bike that hasn’t been ridden for over six weeks, now to focusing on Oceania’s in five weeks. I feel it is safe to say I am now a stronger person as a whole, but especially mentally.

I would like to thank Paul and Claire Aubrey for their fantastic hospitality in putting Dad and me up for the week. Also to Andy Blair for his friendship, support and wisdom. John Carney and the boys from Wembley’s, Matt From Specialized bikes, Troy from Shimano, Dion from “4 Shaw” and Big Daz from “Shotz”

Thank you to everyone for your support through the tough times, but also for your continued support throughout the year, it is greatly appreciated.

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