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Snowies MTB Festival

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By Antsonline - Posted on 25 February 2015

NB: Originally posted elsewhere on the Global Riders Network and appears via syndication.
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Snowies MTB Festival
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A new event on the calendar – and quite a good one at that!

The Snowies MTB Festival was held at Lake Crackenback resort – a little holiday camp style place halfway between Jindabyne and Thredbo.
The resort host the start and finish of each of the 4 stages over two days.
Its an important logistical consideration – that everything finishes where it starts, and that the accom options aren’t a long way from the startline. When racing a stage race, you have enough to think about as it is – you don’t want to have add in the logistics of finishing 30km from where your car is parked (a la Cape to Cape / Port to Port).

I got there on the Friday lunchtime (racing started Saturday) and didn’t touch the car all weekend after that. Excellent.

So – what went on? Well, we booked one of the excellent, modern houses on the resort. It slept 6 people, had a big garage and excellent kitchen. It meant that our merry band of friends could all hang out together, eat together, wash clothes, and generally feel like they were at home. Its always extra fun with a house full of friends for the weekend – the racing tends to take a backseat once the red wine is opened!

Day One (Saturday) consisted of a 5.5km Prologue first thing (riders off at 30 second intervals), a 21km point to point stage up the mountain form Crackenback to Thredbo on probably 80% singletrack, a BBQ and pool party at the top to relax, and then 2 hrs later a 24km race back down the hill you have just ridden up. Yes – it’s a mass-start downhill race. You wont find many of them on the MTBA calendar!
Day 2 (Sunday) was a 75km marathon. 5 laps of a 15km loop. Not much climbing, lots of flowing singletrack, and lots of opportunity for supporters / family to cheer, feed, sledge, or even stop for a sweaty kiss.

The Prologue was very exciting. There is nothing like knowing you have a man 30secs ahead of you, but also a man 30secs behind you, to make you suffer. Out of the starting gate, 100m uphill on the bitumen driveway and straight into series of bermed switchbacks (similar to Mnt Stromlo or Wylde) to take you down the hill. Almost no pedaling required to go very fast here, but the key was staying off the brakes, trusting your tyres, and getting your entry and exit points correct on the corners. You drop to the lowest point of the course and followed a sinewy track alongside the small creek. After 500m of that, you head home on some fireroad. On this section, I turned the ‘volume’ up to 11 and really began to motor. I knew that there wasn’t much speed to be had in the first part as long as you were clean, so the big differences would come as you headed home.
Slightly uphill, slight headwind – it really hurt. I could see my 30second man (Brad Morton) ahead, and could see I was slightly gaining on him. I couldn’t hear the tyres or brakes of the guy behind me (Mark Tupalski) so knew he wasn’t closing in yet.
Over the line, and I swear I could taste my own lungs. No-one knew how they had done, although we heard whispers of 5 seconds separating the top 4 riders. Turns out the rumours were right It was that close. Over a 10min effort.

Home, quick breaky (I had done the Prologue on an empty stomach to avoid certain spew!) and check over the bike.

Hill climb – I don’t want to portray this as an hour of pure pain. It wasn’t. More like 55mins…;)
Mass start, same bit of singletrack as the prologue, and then off up the hill on some tight twisting trails. Attacks came and went, as did god and bad sensations in the legs. The stage was long enough that you could feel good and bad at various stages. It was really beautiful riding. Amazing views, great trails and some good battles. After a lot of being dropped, doing some dropping, getting back on, fading, coming good again – I found myself in a sprint finish with one of the OnyaBike riders from Canberra – Lewis Cressy. Luckily I managed to hold him off (I suspect it was his mid-sized wheels – not the high speed choice of wheel), and took what was 6th place on the stage.

Pool party!!!!!!
Everyone finished, and a BBQ and pool party was thrown for all riders, some enjoyed, others chose to sit by the mountain stream keeping their legs cool in the water. It was a hot day.

Feeling pretty weary now, it was time to remount the bikes for pretty much the reverse (with a little bit extra on the end) of the ride up. Mass-start downhill racing. It was 200m of wide bitumen before singletrack! You didn’t want to miss your pedals on the start line!!! My gosh it started fast. Every little uphill pinch had to be met with a 100% all out sprint to maintain pace.
Personally, I found it more tiring than the hillclimb. I was smoked. My lights went out, and I found myself dagged off the bak of the group and rode alone for the entire ride. Very peaceful, and calm but not very fast! Oh well. 8th place for me.

Done for the day!! Exhausted.
Home, wash the bike, and sit down for food. As a house, we probably got a bit carried away with the wine, beers, and chips. It was worth it, as we were celebrating a couple of birthdays, but we felt it the next morning!!

Sunday morning broke, and we lined up for the 75km Marathon. A lovely 15km loop that took in all the best trails, with good flow sections, good pedaling stretches and more than enough time to eat and drink.
On a personal note, I rode well (ish) for 2 laps, but my lights went out on lap 3. So I stopped for a bit and chatted to my wife. I rode another lap alone and then going into the final lap go caught by the first of the non-Elite category – two of my good friends, and house mates. They were sledging hard, and very excited to catch me. With one lap to go, we rode together and had a lot of fun. There is such fun to be had in a competitive scenario with good mates.

Over the line, I ended up 8th or 9th I think.

And that was that.
Everything was great. Sure – a few teething issues with the event – easy things to change around timings of presentations etc.
I must say thanks to the house – Kyle, Mark, Pete, Teegan and Bryony – as well as the other ‘blow in’ house guests – Mike, Sally, Briony, Tupac and Coops.

Mark this one down on the calendar for next year – and don’t be afraid to tell your non-riding other half to come along too – there is loads to do there, with kids too – walks from 2km to 21km (as my wife did on the Sat) and various games and things to do at the resort.

CycleryNorthside / PureEdge Nutrition – thanks always for your help and support.

mike95's picture

Great report mate,
As you said it was a really good fun event, looking forward to next years.

Pete B's picture

Great write up of what sounds like a great event. Well done on the result.

Could be a good alternative weekend instead of Capital Punishment next year.

GAZZA's picture

Didn't really think of this as a weekend away until speaking to Garry James today at the Husky. He rated it very highly!
After spending time down there early Jan I can highly recommend the new trails in the area. Money well spent to get tourism going again in the ever dwindling snow season.
Nice racing too pal!

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