Nowra hosted the third round of the six event SRAM Singletrack Mind Series. As the midpoint of the Series, contenders for the overall category podiums are starting to become apparent and they were all in attendance, making for a very competitive field. The entry list also featured one of the biggest junior categories yet seen in the Series with 8 teams and, in a first for the Series, one of the teams was an all-female line up of Vincentia High School students. The Coondoo Road course at Nowra is a favourite amongst Series participants and has featured in every year of the SRAM Singletrack Mind Series. For 2012 a new layout was set with a fresh singletrack section which would result in making the normally quite flat course even flatter and ensuring super-fast racing! At the conclusion of the start lap the front of the race was dominated by the male pairs teams with Australian MTB team representative Cam Ivory leading the pack followed by Brad Morton and Series leader Jon Odams, while 10 seconds back Mark Tupalski led the solo men with Andrew Hall and Ed McDonald only another 10 seconds behind, and Series leader Janet Martin led the sizable solo women’s field.
With the unrelenting nature of the course, the lead in most categories changed throughout the 7 hour event, the Junior category featured a see-sawing battle between Series leaders The Young Guns and Jett Racing, only 6 minutes the difference in the end, The Young Guns adding to their overall lead. The Mixed Threes saw another strong performance from the BG Three, while in the Masters Threes, Horccules Vs The Chocolate Footed Monster again triumphed over What the HORCC, a clean sweep thus far in the Series. With the lap record holder on their team it was little surprise to find that Stevens Bikes took out the Male Threes while in the Female Threes, Accident Prone bested their rivals, and when asked if they were accident prone they admitted to a small unscheduled exit during the race!
The Pairs categories saw some very exciting racing, the Mixed Pairs were separated by only 5 minutes in the end, Brooke Rowlands and Brent Miller taking yet another victory with Victoria Armstrong and Glenn King in 2nd. In the Masters Pairs, Paul Stapley and Andrew Beevors kept it consistent all day to take the win from an under the weather Dan Palmer and Gavin Williams who held on for 2nd place, and the Female pairs was won by the Europe Duo of Katrina Skellern and Sophie Bos-Stapley.
With any one of 4 teams in contention for the win, the Male Pairs category shaped up to be an epic battle. Cam Ivory and Daniel McDonald led for the opening laps but they faced stiff competition from Brad Morton and Michael Brice, while Jon Odams and Luke Dale were just looking to consolidate their Series lead as Dale was still recovering from illness, the Bike Culture duo barely holding on to a podium place while Ivory and McDonald went on to take the win.
The solo categories always throw up some interesting results and Nowra would be no different. The Open Men featured the podium getters from the Canberra round but the order would change throughout the day. Round 2 winner Ed McDonald found himself in 3rd place but remained glued to the wheel of Andrew Hall for the first few hours. The elastic eventually snapped for McDonald but he was never more than a minute or two in arrears. With the lead Mark Tupalski gained in the opening laps, he used the advantage of a clearer track to build on it throughout the 7 hours, his lap times were a model of consistency with 9 consecutive laps during the middle of the race falling within 27 minutes. All three riders finished on 16 laps, Tupalski 1 minute 40 ahead of Hall and McDonald only 1 minute behind the leaders. Janet Martin led the women’s category from start to finish, it would be her second win in the Series beating Round 2 winner Liz Smith, while 3rd place Bec Parkes did it the hard way on her singlespeed bike. Wendy Stevenson had a win in the Masters women category guaranteed being the only entrant, but she didn’t hold back, elapsing 12 laps which would have delivered her 5th place in the talent-packed open category. The Masters men has seen a series long battle of the team mates, Garry James and Jason McAvoy from the Radical Lights team, with the ledger locked at one win apiece there was a definite element of grudge match going on for Round 3! James got the early lead and never looked back, the flatter course possibly not suiting McAvoy but it did seem to be to the liking of 2011 Series champion Phil Welch who took 2nd place, his first podium in 2012.
Riders received over $12,000 in cash and prizes provided by the great sponsors of the Series: SRAM, RockShox, Avid, Truvativ, Hammer Nutrition, Serfas, Kenda, Giant, Zerofive Custom Sportswear, Mountain Biking Australia magazine, Aussie Butt Cream, The Body Mechanic, Frameskin, Muc-Off, Jimmy Jack Wines, and Cycology.
From the coast the Series moves up to the NSW Southern Highlands for the next round at Welby near Mittagong. The Southern Highlands Cycle Club and local council have recently worked to expand the trail network and 16 September will mark the first large event on the new circuit.
For more information, full results, and photographs see: www.chocolatefoot.com.au
Photos attached. Photo credit: Dave Bateman Photography