With my 30 min warm up all done it was time to head down to the start line and suck down my first gel before the gun goes off. With my start not being the best I had to push it from the get go. I wasn’t too concerned as there was a lot of overtaking room for the first 800 metres of the course so there was plenty of time for me to make up a few places before the single track.
The Ashgrove guys made a few changes to the track this year with the track running in a different direction and the introduction of some new single track. It felt like it was made for me and not to mention how much fun it was! The attacks started on the first lap with Declan taking an early lead and getting a bit of a gap on us. With some awesome loose twisty descents it was important to stay 100% focused and try to stay in the lead just to keep the lungs clear of dust and keep a clear view so you could hit each turn tapped. The pace was set really high from young Declan, and our small group of 3; Chris, Bradley and I had to work hard to bring him back. As we kept the hammer down after closing the gap that was formed from Declan we were able to break some of the other riders and formed a small lead to become a group of two. With Chris setting a blistering pace I just stayed on his wheel and made sure I hit the descents in the lead to make sure I had clean lines and make it as easy as possible for myself.
Chris was suffering from some cramps on the forth lap I was left on my own and still pushing really hard to try and keep my lead. While hitting the last single track descent I heard someone behind me and I looked behind and Declan had bridged the gap that we formed early on in the race. With him sitting on my wheel as we hit the fire road Declan hits it again and over takes me. I know I still have another lap to go and don’t respond, thinking to myself we still have a hard lap to go. Knowing my limits I decide it is best to just keep him in sight and wait until he shows some signs of weakening then attack. As we head though the start/finish area Declan slows up thinking it was his last lap before quickly realising his mistake.
I close the gap and I sit on his wheel and just take a bit on a rest as I notice the pace has dropped a little and know this is my chance so I attack. I didn’t go crazy as I wanted to jump up to a sustainable pace that I could hold until the end. I hit the single track and wasn’t game to look back I kept the pedals cranking and hit the loose corners as hard as I can. I put the power on as quickly as possible between the twisty turns as the track loops around on itself. I notice I am putting a bit of a gap to Declan so I smack it up the next climb into my favourite loose twisty single track then up the next steep fire road climb. I start feeling a bit of a cramp coming on so I back off just enough so I don’t seize up. As I keep pushing though the next couple of single tracks I come around to the final fire road climb.
I know if I can keep them out of sight at the top of the climb I will be able to hold the gap all the way to the finish. I jump out of the saddle, grit my teeth and push it up the hill, along the flat and down the last little descent. I sprint along the flat into the single track holding as much speed as I can between the tight trees and out into the event village. I hit the last turn a couple of pedals and though the finish line. I couldn’t believe it, my first state title and I do it with a lead into the finish. It was such a great event; it was really well run with a great field of competitors. Now it is time to knuckle down back into training and focus on my next big goal at National champs. Wish me luck.