It was time to head for Awaba for the 3rd Round of the Single Track Mind series and the SXC Team was looking forward to some more exciting racing with the Chocolate Foot crew. The Awaba track is a great mix of forest traverses, bridges, swooping turns, fast rocky features, switchbacks both up and down, and for this weekend the direct route up camelback climb.
After racing the last couple of weekends, I was anticipating some strong performances in this round for the SXC Masters Team of Gary, Matt and myself. Also entered in the Open 4hr Solo category was Michael, who was coming into the event with some unknown form, but nevertheless has been riding very well. Unfortunately Wayne and Graham were unable to participate for Round 3 and defend their series lead in their respective 4Hr Solo categories.
It was an early and chilly start for the drive to Awaba. Some over night rain was apparent on the freeway and thought this may have been good for the expected very dry track. As it turned out, not sure if any rain hit the ground in the forest. Pre-race prep was quickly complete, transition set up and greetings to fellow competitors, and after a very short warm up it was down to the start line along the fire road where I lined up a few rows back from the front along with Michael.
Off and racing and Michael and myself got away cleanly and the entry to the single track was trouble free with only minor congestion and a little friendly chit chat. The plan was to get a good start for the team to set up the race. I was feeling strong sitting in the procession, waiting and hoping to move up when we hit camelback where I made a move. Michael was on my shoulder and he spun up and and climbed away ahead of me. A split had formed and I was in between with the group ahead drawing away. It was time for me to consolidate and try to get them back, but that 20 second gap meant I didn't see Michael again before transition.
As was the case with the previous round at Mogo, good opening laps from Gary and Matt meant that we had quickly established a solid lead in category. The team challenge was to also perform well versus the Masters Pairs teams and improve overall postion. Meanwhile, we chased Michael, but he was continuing to complete some fast and consistent laps and kept us at bay.
Into Hour3 and the 4Hr Solo Open category was tightening up. Michael was keeping very consistent times and was on the move as we encouraged him through transition. Up until this point, it had also been great watching the 7Hr solo leaders of Ed McDonald, Callum mcNamara and Andrew Lloyd come through transition together lap after lap in almost casual fashion, however the gaps were now starting to appear.
I headed out for my next lap, with close to a lap lead over second place and also very close to the Masters Pairs leaders overall. But could I catch Michael ? I was finding Awaba tough after Mogo and Wingello the previous weeks and tried to keep it smooth and fast. The track was clearer than earlier laps and was I feeling good through the middle sections with some better flow. However the legs were feeling flat and what should have been my fastest lap was not to be. Into transition to tag Gary and to find Michael who had maintained a couple of minutes lead on us. Since I had not made the catch I knew Michael was right in there and was very pleased to learn that second place was his. A fantastic solo ride for SXC and congratulations Michael !
The 4 Hr finishers continued to come through and there were plenty of smiles on display and cheers from the supporting crowd. One of the biggest grins was Veronica Russell taking out the Solo Female Master category. Well done V !
With a couple of laps under the belt, Gary returned to transition for his fastest lap of the day and Matt followed up with another consistent time as we continued to watch the lap times in a tight tussle with the Masters Pairs leaders. In the end, the last lap of the day for each of the SXC team members seemed to be the one that was most enjoyable, with Benny and the Jet in Masters Pairs drawing away and taking out their respective category victory. Congrats Ben and Mark.
The team overall finished another great result and looking forward to the next round at Nowra;
7Hr Masters Threes - SXC Racing Masters (Dave, Gary, Matt)
1st in Category
Open Male 4hr Solo - Michael Faretta
2nd in Category
Well done to all competitors out their today, with special mention to all the women who are showing many of us how it can be done ! As always the track vibe was great and a big thank you to the Chocolate Foot crew for making it all possible.
Thanks to our Sponsors and supporters, Specialized, Cyclery Northside, Essential Sports Nutrition, EVOC, TotalAutoFinance