2015 Round 4 National Mountain Biking Series - Mr Stomlo, Canberra

Post date: Feb 10, 2015 11:25:26 AM

Three of the NIAS Mountain Biking Program members headed to the fourth round of the National Mountain Biking Series being held at Mt Stromlo Forest Park in Canberra over the pasted weekend.

They arrived early to allow at least 1 days practice to try and master this technically demanding course, after all this is the same track used for the 2009 Mountain Bike World Championships. The prominent sections of the track have aptly names such as Cardiac Arrest and Hammerhead where difficult climbs with sequential step-ups and significant multiple drops in a row. These obstacles were challenging when practicing but would be significantly more difficult once in a race environment when the competitor would be on the rev limiter and moving through in a train of riders.

The first official race was the Cross Country Criterion which was held on the Friday afternoon. Emily Wooster racing in the U15 was the only NIAS member to compete in this format. Emily managed to finish a well desired 2nd in her class on this short course format.

Cross Country Olympic style racing started on Saturday morning with Emily Wooster (U15) and Katherine Hosking (U17) first on the line. As per Round 2 & 3 the girls were privileged to race with the Elite Women, admittedly starting further back on the grid. This gave the girls the opportunity to race competitors in the higher classes.

Emily started her race sporting a badly bruised thumb caused by an off on the previous practice day which made shifting gears a little painful. By the number of dressings and a sling on one competitor the technical nature of the course had already played heavily on a number of competitors. Even sporting the injury Emily managed to take out 2nd in the U15 and maintained her 2nd place in the Series with Zoe Cuthbert taking the win with a significant home ground advantage.

Katherine was every happy with her prerace practice but as expected race pace and close proximity of competition traffic made it very difficult to execute the rehearsed lines and technique. It seemed that this was a common issue with all competitor, even within the Elite riders, so therefore maintaining a level playing field. Katherine opened up a 2 minute lead by the end of the gruelling hour long race and also managed to finish ahead of the U19 winner and take the U17 series win.

Jack Feltham, nicknamed Whippet due impressive aerial tail whips which have been livening up the crowds, raced in the afternoon. Feltham’s strong technical ability was expected to assist him greatly on this challenging course. The group start did not go well for Feltham as he ended up not cleanly clipping into both peddles during the typically aggressive acceleration off the start. This issue relegated him to the last position, a tough position to pull back from. Feltham managed to pull back from 24th to 14th by the end of the steep and long start loop climb.

Coming into the most challenging downhill section Hammerhead there was significant congestion down the less technical B line and a clear line through the highly risky and technical A line. Feltham took the incredibly gutsy move of taking the A Line in a hope to work his way past a number of riders. Hammerhead asserted it anger and Feltham was off but luckily not badly injured and was back on his bike and now in 10th. During the remaining 3 laps Feltham managed to take 9th by the finish line.