Thursday, April 12, 2007

2007 Oceania Championships, Thredbo Australia

A report from Kate:

The final race of the Potter’s Cotic Tour de Oz was the Oceania championships. This annual race is the equivalent in UCI points to the European Championships and attracts riders from all the countries down under, namely Australia and New Zealand. Originally Ian and I were due back in the UK two weeks earlier to acclimatize to the rain and cold that we have had the pleasure of avoiding this winter. However with much grovelling from Ian who wanted to continue to top up his tan I decided that two more weeks of sunny weather and ‘Home & Away’ beaches wouldn’t be such a bad thing, so off we headed to Thredbo for the 2007 Oceania Championships.

I knew the course well as I won the third round of the Australian cross country series here. I love this course as it not only has technical descents, but really tough climbs and fast single track that keeps you smiling. Now back to the weather. As I said earlier on Ian wanted to stay two weeks longer to top up his tan. Well it wasn’t to be as winter had arrived early in Thredbo and snow, rain and plenty of mud were forecast all weekend. On my last practice lap the clouds moved in, ready and waiting to attack all the colourful lycra clad creatures who dared venture out of bed at 6am for their last opportunity to practice the course. I was one of the very few, and half way round started wishing I had worn thermals. Fortunately the elite men and women weren’t racing until Sunday, so we had 24 hours to pray for a sunny day.

Ian and I decided to wait until the last moment to choose which tyres would be more appropriate for the conditions. Ian was leaving the decision to me, as he knows I hate making decisions. I wasn’t convinced that mud tyres would be the best tyre choice, in fact I thought they could be suicidal on all the rocky sections. The minutes were ticking by and finally I flipped a coin and mud tyres it was (gulp).

The rain had finally stopped in time for our race, but the winter chill had well and truly set in. I honestly have never been so cold before a race before. As I warmed up on the road I lost feeling in all my fingers and my lips had turned blue. Apparently we had it easy though as the down hillers were enduring minus eight degrees on their start line.

As the whistle sounded it was a fast, but sluggish start, as a few metres after the start line we had to ride up a muddy bank that cruelly made you feel like you were riding with your brakes on. I had caught a dose of the racing nerves and I found myself holding back and riding as stiff as an ironing board. As we hit a long concrete path I slipped on the wooden edge and lost touch of the leading girls in front. I also apologise now to the rest of the pack who were forced to dodge me as I scrambled back on my bike. I must have been back in 10th place and couldn’t see the leading girls. I thought I might be able to make up some time on the road climb, but my legs weren’t having it today. I knew I had to stay focused and rely on my trusty Soda to get me round. Slowly, but surely I started to relax and on the third lap I was having the time of my life on the descents, but just lacked any speed on the climbs. It was quite strange as training has been going well, but I felt like I was going half the speed today. By the fourth lap I was in fifth position and could see a New Zealand girl ahead. Ian informed me that my third and fourth lap times were quicker than a few of the girls in front, but I had to dig deep as I had lost too much time at the start. I was giving it everything, but could feel myself tiring and starting to really slow. I was determined to hang on to fifth position. As I hit the last short climb that took me over the bridge to the finish line, I almost ran as the ground was so soft that I felt like I was going no where. When I hit the bridge for the last time I couldn’t believe the ground still felt really soft, as I was riding wooden boards. I looked down and there you have it, a very soft rear tyre, 15 psi to be exact when Ian checked it a little later on. Thinking back it may have leaked some air when I hit the wooden step at the start, but I was too nervous to have been thinking logically to have checked it during the race. Well at least it was an awesome training session, as my legs were well and truly hurting, heart pumping and lungs screaming by the end.

I was so relieved to have finished. I held on to fifth position and managed to be the second Aussie girl home. I was really excited for Tory Thomas who managed second place, but New Zealand’s Rosara Joseph showed her true class and took top honours by a huge 13 minute margin.

Well the adventures in Oz have been fair dinkum (I love that word), and we have really enjoyed riding it up in the Australia made sunshine and on the dustiest trails known to woman. However we have a lot to look forward to as we return for another summer in the UK and France. With only a week to recover from jet lag it will be interesting to see how the legs go for the first round of the British national point series at Thetford Forest.
Look forward to seeing you there.

I can’t thank all my family, friends and industry sponsors enough for all their support out here in Oz. A special thankyou to –

A Quick Release Holidays
TORQ Fitness
Pace Suspension Forks
Bigfoot Bike Bags

Also thanks to the boys at Hope, Crank Bros, Sram, Cyclops Powertap and Endura.

During our stay in Oz we also had the help and support from –
Dean & Genevieve (
Warren & Zoe (King of the Mountain)
Claire & Paul

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