Convict 100 – Oz National XCM Series – Canada Bound!

After stepping out of my comfort zone and getting smashed at the Cairns World Cup last weekend it was back to business in the Australian Marathon Series Final at the Convict 100.  The series was pretty tight after the previous 4 races with the overall title coming down to a winner take all between Shawn Lewis, AJ Jackson and myself.

Based out of the small hamlet of St. Albans, 2 hours northwest of Sydney, this race is an icon over in Oz and attracted upwards of 1400 riders to tackle the gorgeous course rolling through the Aussie bush land. The first 70 km  included some rough tracks built by the convicts over 100 years ago through some spectacular country, before crossing a sketchy kayak bridge and finishing off on fast but hilly fire road.  It was similar to a typical stage up at the Crocodile Trophy which perfectly suited my riding style as well as my bike, the swift and solid  Kona King Kahuna.

Race morning started with the Crafty, the MC waking up the campsite with some ACDC, after a couple strong green teas and a bowl of hemp we rolled out to tackle the 100 km course under perfect +11 degree temperatures.  Aussie National Champ Andy Blair set a solid pace for his teammate Shawn Lewis for much of the first 50 km of the race which dwindled the lead pack down to 6, which was soon 4 after road pro Chirs Jory got tailed off on a rocky section and 24 hr World Champ Jason English flatting just before the 10 km bitumen section.  I was behind Jason when he flatted and was got tailed off the leading 3 riders, which created a 10-15 second gap.  They saw this when they hit the pavement and started to drive the pace.  For the next couple km I chased solo unable to gain on the lead trio, but new I had too, buried myself and eventually closed the small  gap .  Once I was back on the guys sat up and eased the pace, this was a welcome break before we hit the last big climb of the day leading into 20 km of rolling fire roads to the finish. Here I went to the front and dropped Shawn and AJ, with Andy sticking to my back wheel.  5km later he would counter attack pulling away, while I kept a steady pace to try and hold off the chasing duo behind.  It was a suffery race with all of us firing all the bullets we had left at each other.


This stayed the same until 5km to go when I caught Andy at a river crossing and took over the race lead from the bonking Aussie.  Fired up on adrenaline I rolled into the finish to take both the race and overall series title, narrowly missing the course record by 7 seconds.  AJ would come in 2nd just a minute down with Andy and Shawn right on his tail with Mr.English coming in soon after.

The racing has been great fun over here as competition is high and every race has come down to the wire.  The race organizers have  done a great job at creating good events in the middle of often nowhere with great MC’s,  media, fun courses, food stands and everything else you would expect at a National level race.   Following the conclusion of this one I will welcome a long break as it has been a busy 6 weeks of travelling, racing and living it up down under.  Selling my bike 2 hours after the finish, helped gurantee a peaceful next couple of days before heading back to Canada to start the season over there.

Huge thanks to Henry and the crew at Maximum Adventure for inviting me out to the Convict and renting a camper for 5 days so I had some wheels and accomodation.  Half the fun from the weekend was spending 3 nights camping out in the peaceful St. Albans valley.  Also a big thanks to Jon Odams down at Bike Culture for getting my tired bike ready for one last race.    The successful trip down under wouldn’t have been possible without the help of countless individuals, old friends and new, which leant a hand to  make things work over here for a travelling nomad. There is an open invitation to all of you in Canada..  Just make sure you pack your toques and mitts!

Of all the places I’ve travelled, Australia has been the easiest transition from Canada as the people and lifestyles cross over very nicely.  Having raced over here on 4 different occasions, it has fealt more and more like home every time.  I will be  looking forward to the next voyage over here!

Over and out. Back to the crisp fresh air of the Canadian West coast:)!

 

Here is a link to the race report from MarathonMTB.com  and a cool race highlight video: http://cog.konaworld.com/archives/19787

* Big thanks to Mike Blewitt at Marathonmtb.com for the pictures in this blog and the race report.

*Also thanks to Tristan White for the finish line photo

 

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