When the going gets tough, the tough get faster.
Which is to say that the Albury Wodonga MTB Club knows how to put on a very authentic opening to the Victorian Endurance Series.
While the rain that the Bureau predicted on Saturday failed to arrive it turned up with mates on Sunday to turn an already hectic Nailcan Hill course into something truly worthy of a UCI World Cup XCO event. It was a short sharp course, with features and sections straight from a loop carved out of a German or Austrian ski resort – albeit with Eucalypts. However that challenge was accepted and those hardened competitors that made their way to Albury made light of the trying conditions and continued hammer the 6.5km course, getting faster and faster as the circuit eventually dried out into almost perfect racing spec in the afternoon.
Despite the threat of rain, a strong field assembled for the 6HR start at 10:00am. The ever consistent Kevin Skidmore overcame the slick and technical course to take the win over the improving Tyler Windham with Rod Aitken rounding out the Elite Mens podium. And in a strong showing in her new colours the ever powerful Katherine McInerney rode away from Sarah Bath and Kelly Reynolds to win the Elite Womens 6 hour race. Richard Read took the chocolates in the 6HR 40+ category, Oldschool claimed the win in the 6HR Mens Teams, and in the Mixed category Bowtthews did significantly more than enough to take the 6HR victory.
When the 3HR event kicked off the already tough course was starting to bare its teeth. Tough climbs and rocky off camber descents greeted a large contingent of racers just as the rain began to bed in. Tough creatures that mountain bikers are the lap times were still super quick and as the Albury soil drank away the precipitation, the racing got faster and faster.
None faster than Murray Spink, who beat the talented Tom Ovens and former Drapac rider Daniel Braunsteins to win the 3HR Elite Mens race.
Lisa Brydon started fast and consolidated to win the 3HR Elite Womens race over Jo-Ann Crane and Goele Schmitz, Toby Hobbs and Kylie King took out the 3HR 40+ Mens and Womens races respectively, and it was a bottles and chains battle in the 3HR Juniors with Mythirdcrash cutting 6 laps 29 seconds faster than Roast Potatoes.
As with all races in the VES the camaraderie amongst the racers was strong, but due to the weekend’s trying conditions it was truly galvanized. There were numerous examples of riders looking after one another with spare tubes, tools and notably (and most importantly) help and comfort if things went bad. If there was an event that highlights the awesomeness of the mountain biking community, it was the AWMTB event last weekend.
Thanks AWMTB – and we look forward to seeing you all at the next race in Lysterfield on May 21.
Story by Jason Archer