I guess we were due for a wet race and after dry conditions all season, we finally got it down in Dunedin at the National Champs. The weather’s a bit different down there. As the majority of the country made the most of the last few weeks of summer we were in wintery conditions with temperature highs that barely made it into the mid teens. Rain in the days leading up to the race played its part and riders were soon on the hunt for mud tyres.
We were given five laps and with the track conditions the way they were it was obviously going to be an interesting day. The majority of the track was actually in pretty good nick. All except for the middle part of the lap, where things got tough when the gradient steepened. Traction became very hard to find and for a hundred meters or so it was easier and faster to get off and run. The mud was thick and heavy and the going was slow. Running up the climb was a bit of a slog but thankfully drier conditions higher up made it possible to get back on although clipping in was an issue as pedals and cleats became clogged with dirt. Another dismount and run for the last pinch at the top and then it was into the descent. Fast and flowy in the dry, it had transformed into a barely controllable slide down the hill. For me it soon became less about trying to get down the hill fast and more a battle just to stay up right. I pin balled my way down the slope each lap and as the race wore on I got to know a few of the trees beside the track pretty well.
I was after the win in both the U23 Men as well as the overall Elite Men’s race. However today I just wasn’t fast enough. I probably didn’t handle the tricky conditions as well as I would have liked. Despite having been near the front for the first few laps I had to settle for second place. It was a disappointing way to end the national season especially after doing so well in the series. Congratulations must go to Carl for winning the Elite Men’s title. And on a positive note despite losing out on the overall win I successfully defended my U23 Men’s National title and will again be able to wear the National Jersey with pride when I head overseas to race later in the year.